It's a grand thing to get leave to live': the educational legacy of Nan Shepherd

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This article offers some insights into the early life and educational experiences of the writer and educationalist Anna (Nan) Shepherd (1893-1981), with a view to exploring her legacy for contemporary educators and academics – and indeed for all those who have a stake in education. Nan Shepherd’s example suggests that it is only by contemplating what surrounds us with due care and attention rather than ruthless exploiting our natural resources that we may live our lives ‘with a great but quiet gusto’ (Macfarlane, 2011, p. xi). Her example stands as a necessary corrective to the contemporary emphasis on ‘excellence’ and ‘impact’ and the utilitarian views of both education and research. These are increasingly seen as means for securing prestige for individuals and institutions and broader competitive advantage in a climate where economic gain is regarded as an unquestioned good. Shepherd’s legacy underlines the broader civic purposes of education, for example the creation of a more just and fulfilling society and the conduct of more meaningful lives, lived fully and in respectful relation to others. These dimensions are explored through Shepherd’s relationship with others, including her friend and contemporary John Macmurray, the novelist Neil Gunn and the teachers who influenced her during her time at school and at university.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalScottish Educational Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2019

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