It is argued, and not just by the Scots, that Scotland has made a greater contribution to the modern world than almost any other country. Yet many study travel agents tell us, that, for example, the vast majority of people in China don’t know much about Scotland.
Everyone in China knows what a television is, and television was invented by a Scot (John Logie Baird). Similarly, many people associate China with cities full of people who travel by bicycle, which was again invented by a Scot (Kirkpatrick McMillan). And virtually everyone in China and every other country regularly uses a telephone, also invented by a Scot (Alexander Graham Bell).
Would there have been an Industrial Revolution? Arguably the most important person in that revolution was Scot James Watt, who pioneered and improved the steam engine that powered Britain to become the ‘Workshop of the World’ in the 19th century. How would we be able to drive along modern roads, or land on the ‘tarmac’ at airports across the world, if it hadn’t been invented by John McAdam, the Scottish engineer from whom tarmacadam takes its name? Not to mention (although we just have) the modern rubber tyre (invented by a Scot, John Dunlop) upon which all cars keep in contact with the tarmac road surface!
And the actor who is most associated with the role is Sir Sean Connery, born in Edinburgh, as was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author and creator of the world’s most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes (there is a statue of Doyle in the street where he was born, not far from where we have our Global School of English).
We could go on and on. The toaster, penicillin, the electric clock and the fax machine, neo-classical economics, the American Navy, logarithms, beta-blockers, the steam-boat, the adhesive postage stamp, the thermos flask, even the Bank of England – all these and many more were invented/founded by a Scot.
So the next time a student asks where they should go to study English, why not suggest they set off on a voyage of discovery to Scotland!