“Aye Been” isn’t always “Aye Wrong”


I was recently asked to speak at the Braw Lads Gathering Big Breakfast. This meant getting up at 5.00am for a 6.am start. 350 people gathered in the Galashiels Volunteer Hall for an hour and half of song, speeches and general good fun.

I spoke about one of my favourite poems “The Borderland” which was first published 100 years ago this month.  The poem had been written by Roger Quinn who was known as the “Tramp Poet”.

After the event I had pint in the Salmon Inn with Jim Renwick, one of Scotland’s greatest ever rugby players.  Jim comes from Hawick so it was good to see him in Gala supporting a rival town’s festival.

Jim and I were talking about the merits of tradition and then of “Aye Been” – e.g “It’s aye been (always been)done that way so there’s no need to change now”  – which is often used a disparaging way of describing the Scottish Borders’ attitude to life.

I think one the biggest challenges facing educational leaders is to recognise the value of tradition whilst at the same time introducing worthwhile improvements.

Sometimes there is an implicit belief that just because something is new it must automatically be better – the wise leader sustains and builds traditions and weaves new ways of doing things into that cultural fabric.

That is not to say that we can never challenge tradition – there are times when the “aye been” has to change – it’s just that we must remember that this does not always have to the case.