Scotland’s history in education is much tied to it’s culture. The methodical and logical approach of Scotland’s Parliament House looked to Roman and Continental law which was out of line with the inherited English practice. Even more alien to England was an education system which combined the democracy of the Kirk elders with the intellectualism of the advocates. This made expertise in metaphysics a condition of the open door of social advancement. Read more
As part of the Ragged Library, Richard Gunn – a recently retired lecturer on political theory at the University of Edinburgh suggested ‘The Democratic Intellect: Scotland and Her Universities in the Nineteenth Century (Edinburgh University Press 1961 and – more recently – 2013’…
Scotland has always had a distinctive approach to higher education. From the inauguration of its first universities, the accent has been on first principles. This unified the approach to knowledge – even of mathematics and science – through a broad, philosophical interpretation.
This generalist tradition, contrasting with the specialism of the two English universities, Oxford and Cambridge, stood Scotland in good stead. It characterised its intellectual life, even into the nineteenth century, when economic, social and political pressures enforced an increasing conformity to English models. George Davie’s account of the history of these movements, and of the great personalities involved, has proved seminal in restoring to Scotland a sense of cultural identity.