Congratulations to Fiona McAllister who have been nominated in Scots Teacher o the Year sponsored by Scottish Qualifications Authority in the Scots Language Awards 2020. Vote now!
We asked Fiona McAllister of Fiona McAllister the following questions.
Tell us aboot yersel or yer ootfit.
Foremaist, ah’d jist like tae thank awbody wha nominated me for this award: ferr taken aback wi it an chuffed tae bits. Thank you.
Onywise, ah’ve taught in Moray since 2007 an in Aberdeenshire fer a whiley afore that. Ah’m fae Glasgow originally, so everyday Doric wis a muckle surprise tae me – a nice yin – bit a surprise aw the same. Ah’d heard the Doric afore fae the mous o story-tellers, bit that wis ainly in wee dribs an drabs. Even back then ah kent ah wis missin a ferr few o the rude jokes, an readin Stanley Robertson an Pat Hutchinson noo sure shawed mi the rich earthiness in the Doric leid.
Naebody teaches by thairsels an the help ah’v hid fae great pals an wirk colleagues his been wonnerfu, folk like: Rosie Daley, Donnie Carthew, Bob Drysdale, Jamie Fairbairn, Linda Brown and Janice Simpson. Thaur support cannae be unnerestimatit. Baith Lossimeouth High Schuil and Keith Grammar Schuil hae been great in getting Scots back intae Scottish clessrooms. Then thare’s the weans thairsel that hae thoroughly enjoyed learnin aboot an in thair ain leid. Tae see thair joy wi the validatin o their ain leids gies ye sic a boost.
Anither thing ah’ve been involved wi is a wee charity cried Heart of the Travellers (HOTT). It wis set up tae save the Tinkers’ Hert in Argyll. The Tinker’s Hert is a wee monument o chuckies. It wis built tae bring tae mind aw the Travellin men wha fell at Culloden. We makit weel in getting it scheduled as a National Monument wi Historic Environment Scotland. Bit anither o the things ah also did wis tae edit an produce a wee magazine an it was astonishin jist how mony o the contributers scrieved in Scots. It struck mi that mony o thaim probably widnae hae written in Inglis but ask fer writin in oor ain leid an the writin came pourin in. So mony talented folk oot there; it wis guid tae be able tae gie folk a wee outlet fer their stories an poems. Bit thaur’s a need fer mair places like it because thare’s a gey lot o talent gaun tae waste itherwise.
Whit wis it got ye involvit wi the Scots leid?
Ma ain amazin Inglis teacher, Jimmy Kelly, his tae get the foremaist credit here. Jimmy Kelly wis the PT Inglis at St, Gregory’s in the 1970s. Ah hid the preevilege o bein taught by him fer fower years. He wis sic an amazin man and he made us aw unnerstaun we hid twa tongues in oor heids. He introduced us tae lots o Scots literature, pittin it aw in context tae. Ma ain interest in Scots history, literature an leid came fae his lessons.
When the CfE wis brought in an it haed a focus oan Scots an Scots place in the world, it appent up a load o chances tae study the Scots leid. Then the SQA brang in thair Awards an that wis it – aff an runnin wi it. A ferr difference noo fae aw the tellin affs we goat as weans fer spierin wir ain leid!
Anither braw thing aboot it aw is how many chances it’s gied us tae wirk wi a heap o folks wi widnae usually get tae wirk wi. The likes o Sheena Blackhall, Matthew Fitt, Jess Smith, Bruce Eunson, Frieda Morrison an Hamish MacDonald hae aw been welcome freens tae oor schuils an added a hale lot tae the weans’ experiences.
Lossie High wis lucky enough tae be awarded a writer in residence by the Scottish Book Trust an we goat Hamish as ‘oor’ Scriever. He wirked wi mony o the weans, sharing creative writin tips wi thaim – an aw they pupils went oan tae dae richt weel in thair SQA wirk.
In trowth, whit goat me involved wis the chance tae explore ma ain leid wi the weans ah teach. When ah lowpit richt in, I didnae ken whaur it wid go – an ah didnae expect it tae be sic a brilliant daunder through sae mony wiys o explorin and teachin Scots.
Ony particlar career heighlichts?
Hunners! Here’s jist a wheen o happy memories:
• A daft discussuion wi a fifteen year auld Doric speaker, wha widnae hae it that he cud read Norwegian. It was ane o thae funny clessroom exchanges that descend tae the level o five year aulds oan baith sides. It ended wi me gein him a page fae a Norwegian teenagers’ magazine – an the look oan his face when he realised jist how much he did unnerstaun wis braw.
• Watchin Jess Smith haud hale year groups o weans in her luif as she telt her stories in Scots and gettin thaim singin an chantin alang wi her.
• Frieda Morrison interviewin pupils fae Lossie aboot wirkin wi Hamish an me jist feelin dead prood o them.
• Wirkin wi Hamish and The Scottish Book Trust (afore Corona dingit it ane.)
• An sae mony happy memories o Donnie Carthew, the Depute at Lossie. He hid this ‘face’ he pit oan when he saw me mairch intae his office wi a, ‘coud ah jist…?” query aboot something tae dae wi Scots. Bit he aye said, “Aye,” oanywise!
Wha’s yer plans fir the days aheid?
Ah’m planning tae keep oan teachin and pluggin Scots whaur ah can. Thaur’s a ferr few new groups formin, like ‘Oor Vyce’, an it’ll be grand tae link up wi thaim as weel as still wikin wi the other folks ah’v been wirkin wi afore. We cannae dae this oan oor ain and the mair o us enjoyin teaching Scots and bletherin tae each ither aboot it, the better.
Tae end, Ah’d like tae convince Bruce Fummey, fae Scotland History Tours, tae rewirk some o his brilliant wee history videos tae include whit impact thon events hid oan oor leid. His wirk is braw fir the H&D unit onywise bit mibbe ah kin twist his erm a wee bitty!
Read more about Fiona McAllister
The Scots Language Awards 2020 will be online at www.scotslanguageawards.com. We will have a mixture of events on the 23rd / 24th October. Performing at the Award on Saturday 24th September will be Gerda Stevenson, Gary Robertson, Shona Donaldson and Jim Malcolm.
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