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TITLE
Why is it important to study the past? - Margaret Bennett
EXTERNAL ID
AB_SGI_02_MARGARET_BENNETT_Q_08
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF RECORDING
2009
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Margaret Bennett
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
41018
KEYWORDS
conferences
emigration
lecturers
audio
audios
studypast

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As part of Homecoming Scotland 2009, a three-day international conference - Scotland's Global Impact - was held at Eden Court theatre, Inverness from 22-24 October. Prominent academics, historians and other experts came together to provoke healthy discussion on the history of migration and the influence of Scots abroad.

Am Baile interviewed several of the speakers during the conference. In this audio extract, Dr Margaret Bennett answers the question:

'Why do you think it's important to study the past?'

'I do think it's important. Not so that we stay in it, and not so that we don't change, but for the very opposite reason, so that, in fact, we retain the best from the past, and we retain the values of the past, and keep the present informed by those values, with an ability to recognise what it was about those values that made life better. In other words, if I can use some examples from now - Let's say we're going to study food ways of the past. We have more money, and in some senses more food now, than we had in the past, and more variety now, than we had in the past, but were we better, are we better nourished now? Some people are, some people aren't. But I think the only reason that I feel that I'm well nourished now is that I retain the values from the past because I look at what is served as, and that the, what's happening to processed, super-processed foods now, in the name of progress, in the name of progress, is not for me progress. So, that alone is one little analogy.

Or, the sort of values of community and of society, and of family, of the past. There was an emphasis on, on family support, community support, of not just doing for yourself, but for looking after your neighbour, and the value, too, in interacting with each other, because we're in terrible danger of having a - in the next generation - of screen communicators who can't communicate person to person, and they communicate best when there's a phone attached to their ears. There's something missing.

Interviewer: It's a worry.

It's a huge worry, and I watch children, in fact it was my own students, I was asking how many of them played games, and sang songs, etc, and in one decade, these things seem to be vanishing. And we're going to find that we've - we'll discover they had such, that had a value - these children's games and rhymes, for example. They're not just for fun for children, they train - these same children are going to be adults - and it trains their minds, it trains their dexterity, their hand-eye coordination, all of that. I tried it out with my students at the RSAMD and very few of them could have done these ball-bouncing complicated rhymes, or the hand-clapping ones. They just couldn't do it because they'd never done it. I said, 'Well, you know, as musicians, to have that dexterity's a great advantage, or as linguists, or, and so on. Just to, it's, it is a worry.

So, all those things from the past and, studying the past. I mean, there's, there are aspects of the past I actually don't think we should disturb though, I have to confess. I don't think we should be made to revise all our huge mistakes. You know, we get some of it shoved in our faces. 'Do you know Scotland had a big part in the slave trade?' Yes, I do. Do we actually have to rake out? - It's like things that happen to people on any personal level - the hurts of life, I don't believe are things that we should necessarily rehearse daily, and tell person, after person, after person, about what hurt us personally because every time you do it, you get hurt again. And I think that, as a national conversation, is equally damaging, to always shine a floodlight on our worst ills. We should be aware of them so we don't repeat them. And, and naturally we regret mistakes of the past, whether they're on a, they make us indignant, but I think we have to get it balanced, and let's celebrate some of the things that have been our success stories, and hopefully, some of our emigrant stories have been that. They've - I think our emigrants, to study the past of our emigration history in Scotland, I think, has a lot of success stories of people who emigrated and made the best of it. And made the best of it.'


BIOGRAPHY

Dr Margaret Bennett was brought up in the Isles of Skye, Lewis and Shetland. She emigrated to Canada in 1967 as a post-graduate student in Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 1975 she was Folklorist with The Museum of Civilization's Quebec-Hebridean Project, returning to Scotland in 1976. From 1984 she lectured at the University of Edinburgh, recording oral history and traditions of Scots at home and abroad.

Now part-time at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, her books include 'Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave' (1992) and two prize-winning studies on emigrant traditions, 'The Last Stronghold: Scottish Gaelic Traditions in Newfoundland' (1989) and 'Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec' (1999).

She features on several CD recordings, has sung at international festivals and has contributed to several theatre productions. In 1998 she received the Master Music Maker Award in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching, and in 2003, the Celtic Women International award for 'lifelong service to Scottish Culture'. For Homecoming Scotland 2009 she has published a book with double-CD of songs spanning three centuries, 'Dìleab Ailean-A Newfoundland Homecoming Cèilidh' (Grace Note Publications).

Image: Duncan MacNab

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Why is it important to study the past? - Margaret Bennett

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

2000s

conferences; emigration; lecturers; audio; audios; studypast;

Am Baile

Scotland's Global Impact

As part of Homecoming Scotland 2009, a three-day international conference - Scotland's Global Impact - was held at Eden Court theatre, Inverness from 22-24 October. Prominent academics, historians and other experts came together to provoke healthy discussion on the history of migration and the influence of Scots abroad. <br /> <br /> Am Baile interviewed several of the speakers during the conference. In this audio extract, Dr Margaret Bennett answers the question:<br /> <br /> 'Why do you think it's important to study the past?' <br /> <br /> 'I do think it's important. Not so that we stay in it, and not so that we don't change, but for the very opposite reason, so that, in fact, we retain the best from the past, and we retain the values of the past, and keep the present informed by those values, with an ability to recognise what it was about those values that made life better. In other words, if I can use some examples from now - Let's say we're going to study food ways of the past. We have more money, and in some senses more food now, than we had in the past, and more variety now, than we had in the past, but were we better, are we better nourished now? Some people are, some people aren't. But I think the only reason that I feel that I'm well nourished now is that I retain the values from the past because I look at what is served as, and that the, what's happening to processed, super-processed foods now, in the name of progress, in the name of progress, is not for me progress. So, that alone is one little analogy. <br /> <br /> Or, the sort of values of community and of society, and of family, of the past. There was an emphasis on, on family support, community support, of not just doing for yourself, but for looking after your neighbour, and the value, too, in interacting with each other, because we're in terrible danger of having a - in the next generation - of screen communicators who can't communicate person to person, and they communicate best when there's a phone attached to their ears. There's something missing.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: It's a worry.<br /> <br /> It's a huge worry, and I watch children, in fact it was my own students, I was asking how many of them played games, and sang songs, etc, and in one decade, these things seem to be vanishing. And we're going to find that we've - we'll discover they had such, that had a value - these children's games and rhymes, for example. They're not just for fun for children, they train - these same children are going to be adults - and it trains their minds, it trains their dexterity, their hand-eye coordination, all of that. I tried it out with my students at the RSAMD and very few of them could have done these ball-bouncing complicated rhymes, or the hand-clapping ones. They just couldn't do it because they'd never done it. I said, 'Well, you know, as musicians, to have that dexterity's a great advantage, or as linguists, or, and so on. Just to, it's, it is a worry. <br /> <br /> So, all those things from the past and, studying the past. I mean, there's, there are aspects of the past I actually don't think we should disturb though, I have to confess. I don't think we should be made to revise all our huge mistakes. You know, we get some of it shoved in our faces. 'Do you know Scotland had a big part in the slave trade?' Yes, I do. Do we actually have to rake out? - It's like things that happen to people on any personal level - the hurts of life, I don't believe are things that we should necessarily rehearse daily, and tell person, after person, after person, about what hurt us personally because every time you do it, you get hurt again. And I think that, as a national conversation, is equally damaging, to always shine a floodlight on our worst ills. We should be aware of them so we don't repeat them. And, and naturally we regret mistakes of the past, whether they're on a, they make us indignant, but I think we have to get it balanced, and let's celebrate some of the things that have been our success stories, and hopefully, some of our emigrant stories have been that. They've - I think our emigrants, to study the past of our emigration history in Scotland, I think, has a lot of success stories of people who emigrated and made the best of it. And made the best of it.'<br /> <br /> <br /> BIOGRAPHY<br /> <br /> Dr Margaret Bennett was brought up in the Isles of Skye, Lewis and Shetland. She emigrated to Canada in 1967 as a post-graduate student in Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 1975 she was Folklorist with The Museum of Civilization's Quebec-Hebridean Project, returning to Scotland in 1976. From 1984 she lectured at the University of Edinburgh, recording oral history and traditions of Scots at home and abroad. <br /> <br /> Now part-time at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, her books include 'Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave' (1992) and two prize-winning studies on emigrant traditions, 'The Last Stronghold: Scottish Gaelic Traditions in Newfoundland' (1989) and 'Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec' (1999). <br /> <br /> She features on several CD recordings, has sung at international festivals and has contributed to several theatre productions. In 1998 she received the Master Music Maker Award in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching, and in 2003, the Celtic Women International award for 'lifelong service to Scottish Culture'. For Homecoming Scotland 2009 she has published a book with double-CD of songs spanning three centuries, 'Dìleab Ailean-A Newfoundland Homecoming Cèilidh' (Grace Note Publications).<br /> <br /> Image: Duncan MacNab