As I walked towards my parked car yesterday morning, I noticed several windows with “No Thanks” and “Yes” banners, their vibrant colours poking through the fog. This scene is replicated across Edinburgh even in the mild mannered Cul-de-sacs.
A little later that day, just before I entered the room I overheard strongly worded arguments flying across the hall, by my students who had almost arranged themselves in two separate camps. With my entry shouts turned into whispers but I could see on their faces the inquisitiveness about my own personal opinion on the Scotttish referendum. As I turned my back to wipe the board, out came the carefully constructed, loaded question in a muffled voice “What do you think the outcome of the referendum should be?”
Fortunately, I was as ready for this as they were with their artillery of counter arguments. First I was quick to make them lower their guard with a disappointing response of not sharing with them my preference as per college policy and so this was one duel that wasn’t going to happen. But then I told them whatever the outcome the “referendum” in itself is a win. The reason is that I have seen my students becoming politically aware in a manner that I had not witnessed in the batches before them. They were far more informed in matters that would not just affect them as a person but as a society.
For engineering students caught up in calculating spur gears sizes this is a novelty. The referendum itself has been an education and a wake-up call for many. At least for my students, it has helped them in their harmonic development and motivated them not just to think but to participate in the solving the problems of the wider society. No matter what the outcome, let’s celebrate these winds of change.