Gaelic 2012

17 Jan

I don’t know where the time goes.  It seems like only yesterday my oldest child was just a babe in arms, and yet this month I have to register him for school.  How did that happen!?  If you’d asked me 4 years ago how difficult picking a school would be, I would have told you that it wasn’t difficult at all.  Surely they just go to their local school?  But now I’m finding the answer is somewhat different.

As I started to look at all the local schools I came across the Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu – the Glasgow Gaelic School and was intrigued.  If you’ve never come across it before it’s a 3-18 establishment where the children are immersed in Gaelic.  Until mid way through primary 3 they are taught exclusively in Gaelic, and even after that it is the first language of the classroom.  The secondary school is part of the same building and one progresses naturally from the other.  I’d heard about the Gaelic school before in passing but had never really looked into it.  However, the more I read the more I liked.

I liked:

  • that my children would become fluent in another language; something I feel will stand them in good stead for future language learning,
  • that research into bilingualism has shown benefits not just linguistically but socially as children learn to appreciate multiple cultures, and cognitively as they appear to display greater flexibility of thought.
  • that the Gaelic school was considered a good school with good results.  Obviously as they only learn English reading & writing from P3 at that stage they are behind English medium peers, but this gap has generally disappeared by P5, with many GME pupils exceeding their EME peers.
  • that it maintains a part of Scottish culture.  Having grown up being told that my ancestors are from the Isle of Skye I’ve always been interested in that area.

Now obviously I hope that they will have good language skills, appreciate lots of cultures and be able to think flexibly regardless of the school they ultimately go to, but it can’t be a bad thing, can it?

So it’s a done deal, isn’t it?  Clearly it’s a great option and why wouldn’t we send our children there?  Why wouldn’t everyone?

Only it’s not as simple as that.  If we go with the Glasgow Gaelic School we’re signing up to something very different from the education that we experienced.  My husband and I have no Gaelic, and neither does anyone else in our family.  Although over 60% of the families in the Glasgow Gaelic School don’t have Gaelic at home and tell us it’s not absolutely essential, if we are to send our children to this school then it’s only fair to commit to learning what we can of the language ourselves – are we ready for that?

It’s also a decision that attracts a lot of opinions from other people.  Some are simply intrigued.  They’ve looked at the option themselves but don’t feel confident taking the plunge, so are interested in the reasons we think it’s the best option for our family.  Others don’t understand and don’t take the time to find out more.  They just raise their eyebrows and label us “mad.”

I have also had some negative comments.  A group of people I know very strongly said that we should not send our son there.  They were not big fans of the Gaelic school and made that very clear.  It definitely made us go right back to the start and go through all of our options and research again.  We’ve visited the school and raised the issues that had been raised to me, and we were satisfied with the answers and liked what we saw.
We’ve also looked into our hearts and we know that this is what feels right.

So, we’ve bought some bilingual nursery books for our son which he loves and uses the vocabulary randomly.  We play our CD in the car and we’ve also enrolled our son in a local GME nursery starting this month to see how he takes to it before taking the full plunge in August.  I’ve also applied for the distance learning course – An Cùrsa Inntrigidh – from the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, and signed up with http://www.gaelic2012.org/ to keep in touch with other people who have made the resolution that this year is the year that they will learn Gaelic.

I suppose only time will tell if this is the right decision for us, but for just now we’re going to dive right in and enjoy the ride.

Tìoraidh an-dràsta – bye for now!

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5 Responses to “Gaelic 2012”

  1. Rebecca January 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    I think you have to go with your gut reaction when choosing schools. If you feel your child will fit in there then they usually will. It’s such a benefit to learn another language so it sounds a wonderful idea.

    Thanks for joining in the education showcase on loveallblogs

    • gaelicmediummum January 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

      Thank you. We have had so many mixed reactions in the past – and I’m sure they’ll continue in the future – that I suppose I’ve always felt that I needed to both justify my decision all the time and to keep it to myself. I do appreciate that people who feel that we’re making the wrong decision and want to share that opinion with us are only trying to show us all sides of the argument before we launch my son head first into this whole new world, but when it becomes quite forceful I find it quite difficult to know what to say so I’d rather just not discuss it. Our son isn’t there yet, so I can’t say, “oh, it’s a great school and he’s thriving,” and I can’t tell them that he will thrive because no one knows what the future holds.

      That’s why I really do have to agree with your comment – my gut tells me that this feels right so I’m sure it will be.

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