Recent reports state that every child in England will be expected to know their times tables off by heart by age 11. This is described as a tough test, which will include the 12 times table.
Is this supposed to be aspirational? How far have education standards fallen?
I’m 76 and my classmates and I in Edinburgh knew our tables by the age of 7. When we were 11 we had begun to learn algebra, trigonometry and geometry.
Tables and sums are arithmetic but nowadays are conflated with mathematics, which algebra, trigonometry and geometry are.
Also by the age of 11 we had to read designated books, including authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson and John Buchan.
At 12 we started Latin, which was invaluable as the basis of a great many European languages, including English and a great help to those of us who went on to study a foreign language. French was compulsory. Scottish education was hailed as a world leader.
In Scotland our education standards have fallen behind those in England and we have an Education Secretary whose grasp of grammar is woeful - “The figures have went down” (sic) - and who I doubt would make a satisfactory classroom assistant.
Donald Lewis, Gifford, East Lothian
Happy returns to a sparkling centenarian
Former Lord Provost Kenneth Borthwick is a remarkable man – as you record in your Real Lives column (January 5) marking his 100 years.
Along with the current Lord Provost I visited him on his 100th birthday and enjoyed his wit and conversation about times past and present.
Only three weeks ago he attended the current Lord Provost’s reception and I look forward to his presence and sparkling conversation at future events.
Cllr Cameron Rose, City Chambers, Edinburgh
White Ribbon on right track to cut porn mags
I once objected to a shop manager that the pornographic, sexist, irresponsible, vulgar and infantile ‘lad mags’ were displayed in a section headed ‘men’s interest’. The lady did not seem able to appreciate that men might object to the assumption that these lowest-common denominator, schoolboy titillating publications were grossly objectionable to most men.
I therefore endorse White Ribbon’s campaign to cover up such publications in shops (‘Holyrood urged to slap ban on top-shelf mag’s pictures’, News, January 5).
Having lost a shared understanding of the proper function of sex as an ingredient in marriage, pornography and sexualised images inevitably proliferate. Ironically, many of the liberals who celebrate the sexual revolution are also the feminists who now object to this.
Richard Lucas, Broomyknowe, Colinton, Edinburgh
China learns lessons on climate change
While Clark Cross is right to highlight that China is a major greenhouse gas emitter (Letters, January 5), he has obviously missed the recent news that they are about to close 1000 coal mines and have announced a moratorium on opening any new mines for the next three years.
Investment in renewables has seen China’s coal-fired power stations produce 64% of that nation’s electricity, compared to 70% five years ago, despite the massive increase in demand from their growing economy.
China has recognised the effect that pollution and climate change is having on it, and is taking steps to address that.
If only the Scottish Government would keep to its own commitments!
John Nichol, Marmion Crescent , Edinburgh
Trams and concert hall can benefit each other
Two letters appeared in the Evening News on Monday (January 4). One was with regard to the trams to Leith, the other the lack of a major concert centre in Edinburgh, in comparison with Glasgow.
The two subjects could offer a sensible solution to each other. A multi-purpose concert centre with underground parking on the site opposite Ocean Terminal, supported by the extension of the tram network.
This would also promote the shopping centre, hopefully propelling it to greater things.
These are options that need to be explored. Often solutions stare us in the face and they are totally ignored
Les Farwell, Penicuik
Pedestrians and transport can share
I loved seeing the picture of Princes Street and the Bridges (Remember 1954?, News, January 5). There were buses, trams, cars, bikes and people all on the roads at the same time. Which goes to show we had savvy and brains in those days.
That is unbelievable today, with Cllr Lesley Hinds doing our thinking for us.
I think cyclists should have to pass a test before being allowed on the roads just like car drivers.
Too many of them think they own the road.
Andrew Forrest, Bellevue Road, Edinburgh