IF I was working on a police procedural drama series, which had to have a hint of Scotland but a narrative hook broad enough to bring in global audiences from across the Netflix subscriber base, I would call it The Hunt For Lorna Campbell.

But before we get too deep into True Crime and the modern media’s ­fascination with cold-case thrillers, let me tell you about Lorna Campbell, why she resonates so powerfully in my mind and why I would dearly love to find her.

Lorna Campbell was my Modern ­Studies teacher. She was tall, in her late 20s, and seemed to teeter on impossibly high heels. She had a beehive hairdo styled like ­Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes and she ­travelled daily from Dundee to teach Modern ­Studies in Perth.

Beyond that, I knew very little. She was unmarried at the time and had no ­children, but I can only guess if she still lived with her parents or in a rented flat above shop in the Nethergate. Lorna Campbell didn’t stay in Perth long and I have always wondered whether she found it easier to teach in Dundee, at Harris or Lawside or even St John’s, which to this day has an inspiring Modern Studies ­department.

All I can say for sure is that she is one of the most influential figures in my life, someone whose intelligence, or rather her ability to lead you towards intelligence, stood out as a beacon among the many enduring virtues of Scottish education.

To this day I instantly flex my muscle-memory in defence of Scottish ­education whenever it comes under attack. I ­despise shallow generalisations, often from older conservative men, that insist our ­education system is failing.

Scottish education is a spectrum of ­activity stretching from nursery care to lifelong learning, from rural primary schools to the Open University, and from the classics to computer studies.

To glibly say they are all failing is the drooling mantra of the ideologue – it is not true, and many of the people who say education is universally failing are those that seem to resent the idea of a ­successful Scotland in any walk of life.

In the week that the national ­census has come under scrutiny, it is worth ­remembering research by the Office for National Statistics found that Scotland was the most highly educated country in ­Europe and among the most well-educated in the world in terms of tertiary education attainment. Scotland was above countries like Finland, Ireland and Luxembourg, with roughly 40% of Scots aged 16 to 64 educated to NVQ level.

But let me get back to the investigation. Modern Studies – don’t you just love those words. They assert a proud blend of knowledge and modernity. I could ­commit to studying the subject every day for the rest of my life.

When Lorna Campbell taught ­Modern Studies, it was a subject that was seen as racy, and in the minds of some ­traditionalists, a peripheral subject out there on the fringes of the curriculum. Today it is more bedded down within the curriculum and a much more valued part of our secondary schooling.

The day I entered Lorna Campbell’s classroom my life changed. She led the room into areas of knowledge and investigation that resonate in my life even now.

In the necessary prescriptiveness of most curricula planning, there is the risk that flexibility of teaching can be lost. The Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) may have reined in the flashy glamour that Lorna Campbell brought to her teaching, but the core principles are still there. “Modern Studies,” according to the SQA “follows a multidisciplinary ­approach to develop candidates’ knowledge and ­understanding of contemporary political and social issues”. And “candidates develop the skills to interpret and participate in the social and political processes they will encounter in their lives”.

Lorna Campbell took her job ­seriously and sashayed around the class, ­probing into the passions of her pupils. She ­considered Modern Studies to be a live subject, which was duty bound to raise issues that surround us every day, and in her actions, she refused to see her classroom strangled by the dead hand of ­deference and tradition.

Although I may be harking back to a ­romantic past, I am impressed that the current Higher Modern Studies still offers the same flexible space for great teachers to inspire. There are strands on poverty and inequality, Scotland’s constitutional choices, crime and punishment and the landscape of global power.

On one memorable opening class, Miss Campbell explained that we would be working differently, meeting to discuss controversial issues in small seminar groups, joining her for personal tutorials and going down to the old Sandeman Library in Perth to research our chosen topics.

Most daunting of all, we would ­submit a dissertation, and be judged on our ­independent thinking. Back then, it was a conceptual and preparatory subject, ­introducing school kids to the culture of learning that many would ­experience when they went on to college or university.

Lorna Campbell looked to spark the fires of enthusiasm. One day, on my school jotter she saw that I had scrawled the names of 60s soul legends: Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Rufus Thomas. Casually, she asked me all about them and why they mattered.

Steering clear of being overly prescriptive or, in the jargon of pedagogy, not ­giving into “inappropriate or ­unreasonable ­assistance”, she guided me to a subject new in my schooling, the study of the ­African American civil rights movement.

It was a conversation that deepened with each class and opened a window on life that allowed me to learn about the social condition that had produced soul music. It was through Lorna Campbell’s probing that I learned about Rosa Parks, the Birmingham, Alabama Church Bombings and inevitably Martin Luther King.

Her class kindled a fire that has burned bright throughout my life, from the ­Pettus Bridge protests to Black Lives Matter, from Motown to Gil Scott-Heron and ­Public Enemy.

Lorna Campbell is the reason that I went on to write books that have become successful and provided a royalty income, and have a passionate thirst for knowledge that can never be fully quenched.

I owe so much to Miss Lorna Campbell that I want to sit down with her again and thank her for that spark of inspiration. But I’ve no idea where she lives, whether she married or whether she is even still alive, so in the meantime I pray at the ­altar of Modern Studies, a subject that Scottish education should be ­inordinately proud of.

Searching for people should be made simple by the internet but in the case of the elusive Lorna Campbell it has proved untrue. There is Lorna M ­Campbell who works in learning technology at ­Edinburgh University, but she appears too young to be the woman I am looking for. There is a Lorna Campbell who performs on the traditional folk circuit, but the teacher I ­remember is an urbane lady more likely to go to see The Kinks at the Caird Hall than to a sing-along in the local howff.

Search is one of the most powerful ­dynamics of our times, but by placing your faith in Google, you agree to be diverted down blind alleys and overexposed to American algorithms. Within a few pleasant and meandering hours, you have arrived at a hundred alternatives around the world and finally stop at Lorna Slater MSP, the Minister for Green Skills, and the model Naomi Campbell. Only then do you concede that you are no closer to finding the real Lorna Campbell.

We all have our experiences of Scottish education both positive and painful, and there are many who feel motivated to ­emphasise its many shortcomings, but they are a mere hillside set next to the Himalayan heights of our educational achievement.

If Lorna is still out there, and I fear she may not be, I hope you read this and take pride in the influence you had on a boy struggling for support and direction.

In the controversial language of ­education today, thanks for closing my ­attainment gap.