The Grassic Gibbon Centre Teacher Event on Sunset Song

Thanks to everyone involved in the Aberdeenshire CLPL Event held at the Grassic Gibbon Centre on May 16th 2019, either as organisers or participants. I was absolutely delighted that the Centre came over in such a positive light (complete with full Technicolor sunset appearing right on cue at the end) – if you haven’t used the Centre before, it would be great if you wished to use it as a resource for teaching the book (possibly as an early promotion with classes). 

The most important resource I always feel is the teaching fraternity itself with the expertise at its collective disposal, and it was brilliant to welcome such a cross-section of ages, genders and nationalities all with an interest in tackling such a demanding text as Sunset Songwith Higher classes. As I tried to argue on the evening, it’s an excellent exam text (though undeniably a high tariff one), and even more importantly, it’s a hugely relevant text for our times, in its compelling social, moral, political and philosophical themes. Ah, Gibbon, where are you now when we need you most…?

Special thanks to Douglas Samways for doing all the organisation, to Jackie and Amanda who put on the delicious finger buffet (complete with vol-au-vents, ye gods), and to the good folk who promoted their wares at the various stations – Neil Fraser from Historic Environment Scotland, Marie Archer from Aberdeenshire Council (Arts and Heritage) Department, Jamie Fairbairn with Banff Academy’s Doric Project, the guid folk from Mackie Academy English Department displaying a representative range of teaching resources on the book, and our two academic striplings, Fraser Rodger and Darryl Peers, who give us concrete hope for a literate future.

Inevitably, I came up with my best answers to Douglas’s questions when I was driving back to Speyside – especially about the whole language question, which I remember I deviated from badly.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to talk for 90 minutes non-stop, but the atmosphere was very warm and inviting, so I hope everybody got something coherent from my warblings. I’ll post the main documents that I used in my own teaching of the text on the Centre website in the near future which may be of some use to you in forming your own approach to the book – but as you know, every class is different and pretty unpredictable in its response, which is one of the challenges – and indeed rewards – of the job.

Remember the Centre is delighted to help you in future to promote LGG or Sunset Song, and if anybody wants to contact me directly to help, either email me through the Centre or directly at the address below.

Keep up the good work and haste ye back!


Dr Wm K Malcolm

Literary Director, The Grassic Gibbon Centre

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