Sunday, November 23, 2008

High School Latin

Latin and ancient history in high school? I agree with Victor Davis Hanson:

Four years of high-school Latin would dramatically arrest the decline in American education. In particular, such instruction would do more for minority youths than all the ‘role model’ diversity sermons on Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Montezuma, and Caesar Chavez put together. Nothing so enriches the vocabulary, so instructs about English grammar and syntax, so creates a discipline of the mind, an elegance of expression, and serves as a gateway to the thinking and values of Western civilization as mastery of a page of Virgil or Livy (except perhaps Sophocles’s Antigone in Greek or Thucydides’ dialogue at Melos). After some 20 years of teaching mostly minority youth Greek, Latin, and ancient history and literature in translation (1984-2004), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that ethnic studies, women studies—indeed, anything “studies”— were perhaps the fruits of some evil plot dreamed up by illiberal white separatists to ensure that poor minority students in the public schools and universities were offered only a third-rate education.

Like so much else that is supposedly intended to "help" the underclasses.


allen (in Michigan) said...

I've maintained for some time that the Detroit Board of Education ought to be awarded a racial purity medal from the Ku Klux Klan.

Taken together, urban public schools may have done more to exclude blacks from integration into American society then the most vigorous efforts of Ku Klux Klan since the organizations collapse in the late 1920's.

While Hanson's idea is well-meaning it's also essentially useless.

Without a public education system that's responsive to individual parents you have, by default, a public education system that's responsive to people whose interests are never going to be as focused on a good education for a given kid as those parents.

That's what we've got now and there isn't much in the way of Latin being taught anywhere as far as I know.

David said...

See thoughts by Michael Hammer on education for the aspiring business executive. He quotes a senior exec at a pharmaceutical firm: "All one need learn is Latin and computer programming--Latin for communication and programming for thinking."

David said...

Forgot to include the link:

gbradley said...


I had a 7th grade English class that taught me some latin.
It was called Word Clues, and we studied Latin and Greek origins of words.
I wish I had taken more classes, but that class, or maybe it was that Teacher Mr. Fox, really helped me.