From the Old Gold & Black:
In a classroom where students battle away at mythological creatures and Latin grammar, Dr. Gellar-Goad has reinvigorated an out-dated course and brought new teaching methods with a twist of adventure.
In his first year as a Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Classical Languages, Gellar-Goad has developed a unique and innovative method for teaching Latin Prose Composition, a class which is a major requirement for Latin majors. It is typically a course designed to be an intense review of Latin grammar and rigorous practice translating English sentences into Latin.
The original textbook used for the class contains material that is largely antiquated; the original publication of the book was in 1839. As Gellar-Goad pointed out, while not only is the subject matter very hard, the support in the text is not necessarily sufficient.
“This can lead to disengagement because the examples [in the textbook] don’t match the modern American experience of studying Latin,” said Gellar-Goad.
Last summer, he came upon a book called The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game by Lee Sheldon, which has inspired him to reimagine the way Latin Prose Composition is taught.
In the style of a classic tabletop roleplaying game (RPG), each student selects a character from Greek or Roman mythology at the beginning of the semester. Students then assume the roles of these player-characters and use them in class and for homework the rest of the year. The assignments include scribe spell-scrolls, side quests, dungeon maps, and more — all of which require the use of the appropriate Latin grammar.
“A typical class will consist of about half the class going over nitty-gritty grammar details — more of a traditional class format. The second half will then be an exercise on that day’s lesson or review tied to some in-game element.”
Grading in the class is also non-traditional. Instead of beginning with an A and only having the opportunity to lower their grade, students improve their grade by gaining experience points through assignments, homework, and projects.
“There is the extrinsic value of getting to the next level — which is tied to their grade — and the intrinsic value of learning Latin,” said Gellar-Goad.
Though it is only his first semester teaching the course, so far Gellar-Goad has seen encouraging student response. He finds that given room for creativity, students are able to find things which make them happy within the class material, a feature some might say is unusual of the typical course.
“The students do work extremely hard, but I feel like they don’t see it as drudgery; the improvement I have seen is amazing,” he said.
“I think we were all a little shocked the first day when we told that our class would be modeled off of Word of Warcraft and that we would all have to choose characters to role-play for the rest of the semester,” sophomore Sarah Stewart said.
“Professor Geller-Goad’s class is an experiment in 21st century pedagogy; a synthesis between technology and ancient works that makes students capable of grasping the most poignant and powerful messages of what would be highly exclusive materials,” sophomore Lee Quinn, a classics major, said.
“He teaches the students to develop a personal connection to the information,” Quinn said.
Gellar-Goad also said he is fairly certain this is the first time the course has ever been taught this way.
“It’s teaching Latin Prose Composition as a semester long mythological adventure for fun and profit,” he said.
- via: Challenge of the Sphinx: An innovative course in latin prose composition (Old Gold & Black)
… folks might remember Ted Gellar-Goad as one of the minds behind a lolcattish ‘Take Latin’ campaign last summer (e.g. Promoting Latin Internets Style:The Series I)
In the interests of keeping online Latin teaching alive and well:
If you teach at a college/university, or know of one, that offers Latin classes online, would you please let me know off-list? UGA is, at least for the immediate future, discontinuing its online Latin offerings, and, having been involved in distance education for a great many years, I am exploring ways of continuing my online courses (currently Introductory Latin and Latin Teaching Methods), including possibly interesting another university in hosting them. GRATIAS!
… contact Doctor Illa Flora at lafleur922 AT hotmail.com
Nice little video from Rome Reports:
Claude Pavur has put together a nice little page of things which would be useful if one were teaching (or learning) Latin, most recently a phrase-book to accompany Horace’s Odes. I’m sure you’ll find something of use here:
I finally got a chance to check out Pedar Foss’ latest blog-related project … here’s an intro from his very self:
This begins a series of posts that will translate and comment upon Pliny the Younger’s two letters (6.16 and 6.20) about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79–the disaster that buried Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other sites. These posts are part of a book project that intends to understand the scholarly and popular reception of those letters. I am also teaching these letters in LAT 223 at DePauw this Fall term, so this is a good time to do it.
I will provide the Latin (using Mynors’ 1963 Oxford Classical Text [OCT]), and then work through it with a translation, dissection of grammatical constructions, and discussion of what the letters tell us. I will doubtless make mistakes as I proceed, and will be grateful for comments and corrections; the essence of scholarship is rectification through better evidence, arguments, or questions.
… the posts are being gathered under the Pliny category at [quem dixere chaos] … definitely worth a look
Tip o’ the pileus to Joseph Yarbrough for alerting us to this item in the Gyrene Gazette:
“Salvus sīs!” says your classmate, walking into the room.
You smile as you respond, “Salvē! Ut valēs?”
“Bene. Et tū?”
“Nōn male.” Soon, the room is sparkling with foreign chatter—before the professors have even arrived. Sermo Latinus Hodiernus has begun.
Latin Conversation Today, as the class is known to English speakers, is a living challenge to the assumption that the language of Caesar and Augustine is dead and gone. Every Friday, members meet under the instruction of Dr. Ritter and Dr. Yarborough for an hour of linguistic gymnastics that includes everything from telling time to describing objects—all conducted in Latin.
In the past, AMU students have gathered informally for the same purpose, but this is the first year the school is offering the course for credit.
Latin Today is not what Dr. Ritter would call a “typical” language class. By getting an inside look at the mechanisms of the language, students are able to step outside the normal pattern of learning and see Latin as more than a two-dimensional puzzle.
The course is geared toward taking the passivity out of studying Latin and turning it into an active experience through immersion and a diversity of exercises—in the words of Dr. Ritter, “doing Latin without really realizing you’re doing Latin.”
“It’s very hard to say, ‘What does it mean?’ at the end of the day,” Dr. Ritter says about straightforward memorization and translation. His goal is to “take a Latin class and do something a little bit more.”
Still, the class is more than a cryogenic experiment. Up until the nineteenth century, Latin pervaded everyday communication; indeed, for medieval Europe, it was a way of life. A working knowledge of the language, then, provides an inlet to philosophical, theological, and even historical goldmines. In order to cultivate an appreciation for classical writers, Dr. Ritter hopes to eventually have his students working with ancient texts, such as Genesis, the Gospel of John, and St. Augustine. He agrees with Pope John XXIII, who saw Latin as that link between past and future which allows us to read into other cultures and prevents ideas from growing stale. Dr. Ritter himself objects to the view of Latin as a “dead language” when it continues to enrich so many lives. “It would be naïve to sell it short in that way,” he says.
But let’s not forget the element of fun involved: namely, what Dr. Ritter calls “the joy of naming”—the rush of life that accompanies learning, for the first time, how to express oneself in a new language.
“It’s that delight of ‘I’ve found something,’” he says, experienced only when you learn how to say “window” as Aquinas might have, or the connection you make when you realize that Romans furrowed their brows when we ourselves frown.
Dr. Ritter recalls how “shocked” he was the first time he heard anyone speaking Latin for any length of time. But he acknowledges the sense of accomplishment that comes with “passing on with great ease what you learned with great difficulty.” It Dr. Ritter’s hope to imbue his pupils with this skill.
While the Latin language certainly wasn’t born yesterday, one thing remains certain: at Ave Maria, students and faculty continue to show that Latin today is very much alive.
For more inforamation about Latinus Hodiernus and the Classics and Early Christian Literature department of Ave Maria University, please visit their web page: classics.avemaria.edu.
via: Dead or Alive? They Say Alive (Gyrene Gazette)
Tip o’ the pileus to Graham Shipley, who mentioned this study on the Classicists list … here’s the abstract of an article by Kate Chanock:
This paper recounts the process by which a severely reading-disabled adult student taught himself to read and write Ancient Greek, and in so doing, improved his ability to read and write in English. Initially, Keith’s reading and writing were slow, difficult and inaccurate, accompanied by visual disturbance. However, motivated by a strong interest in Ancient Greek literature and philosophical ideas, Keith enlisted me (his Faculty’s academic skills adviser) to help him learn the language. Working on transliteration focused Keith’s attention on the alphabetic principle separately from meaning, while practising translation focused on the formal markers of meaning. Relieved of the stress of performing under pressures of time and others’ expectations, Keith made good progress with Greek and, after 6 months, found himself reading more fluently in English, without visual disturbance. This paper seeks to contribute to our knowledge of how adults learn to read, looking at the interplay of motivation, phonological awareness, knowledge of how form conveys meaning, and the learning environment. It both draws upon, and raises questions for, the neuroscientific study of dyslexia.
- via: Help for a dyslexic learner from an unlikely source: the study of Ancient Greek (Literacy, Oct. 2006)
So last night I was wondering why departments aren’t festooned with posters like this and/or students sporting the latest memeish Ovidian attire:
… just in case someone searches for “Keep Calm and Carry On” in Latin; we Classics types were keeping calm and carrying on since the fall of the Republic or thereabouts … the full quotation is
perfer et obdura! dolor hic tibi proderit olim; saepe tulit lassis sucus amarus opem (Ovid, Amores 3.11a.7-8 (from the Latin Library … can’t seem to find it in Perseus) or perfer et obdura; multo graviora tulisti (Tristia, 5.11.7) … created with the Keep Calm-o-matic …
This is getting a bit of coverage … the Guardian seems to have the version that’s most appropriate for us (but see also Harry Mount in the Telegraph … link below):
Alarmed by a decline in the use of Latin within the Catholic church, Pope Benedict is planning to set up a Vatican academy to breathe new life into the dead language.
Long used by the Vatican as its lingua franca, Latin is currently promoted by a small team within the office of the Holy See’s secretary of state, which runs a Latin poetry competition and puts out a magazine.
But Benedict – a staunch traditionalist – is backing a plan for a new academy which would team up with academics to better “promote the knowledge and speaking of Latin, particularly inside the church,” Vatican spokesman Fr Ciro Benedettini said on Friday.
The academy, added one Vatican official, would be “livelier and more open to scholars, seminars and new media” than the existing set-up.
As the study of Latin dwindles in schools, it is also on the wane in the church, where seminarians no longer carry out their studies in Latin and priests from around the world no longer use it to chat to each other. Until the 1960s Vatican documents were only published in Latin, which remained the language of the liturgy.
Today cash machines in the Vatican bank give instructions in Latin and the pope’s encyclicals are still translated into the language, but the new academy could provide much needed help to those charged with translating Latin words for 21st-century buzzwords such as delocalisation, which appeared in Benedict’s 2009 document on the economic crisis as delocalizatio.
That choice was criticised by Jesuit experts, reported Italy’s La Stampa newspaper.
“Some don’t like that kind of translation because it simply makes Italian and English words sound Latin, rather than being more creative with the language, although both ways are valid,” said father Roberto Spataro, a lecturer at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, who described the idea of the academy as “very opportune”.
Jesuit critics were more impressed with the more elaborate translation of liberalisation in the encyclical as plenior libertas and fanaticism as fanaticus furor.
Lost in translation?
Vatican officials tasked with finding Latin words for new English words call the internet inter rete and emails inscriptio cursus electronici. The 2003 Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis also offers the following translations:
Photocopy exemplar luce expressum
Basketball follis canistraque ludus
Bestseller liber maxime divenditus
Blue jeans bracae linteae caeruleae
Goal retis violation
Hot pants brevissimae bracae femineae
VAT fiscale pretii additamentum
Mountain bike birota montana
Parachute umbrella descensoria
- via: Pope Benedict to open new Latin academy in the Vatican (Guardian)
- Latin rebirth in schools (Telegraph)
- Mirabile dictu! The Pope saves Latin (Harry Mount in the Telegraph)
- Breathing Life Into a Dead Language (New York Times)
Of course, we should note that this has been a sort of constant thing for HH Benedict:
- Vatican Promotes Latin (May, 2008)
- The Pope’s On Our Side … March, 2011)
- Dial-a-Bishop for Latin Test Help? (December, 2011)
Another one which was lost back in March … from the Latinteach list came notice of these very useful youtube map animations/commentaries of various bits of Caesar’s Gallic Wars. They’re from Dickinson College, with the Latin being read by Christopher Francese … we need more of this sort of thing:
Not sure if we’ve mentioned the Alpheios project before, but they’ve sent me this little missive, which should be of interest:
The Alpheios Project should like to announce the availability of sentence diagrams for selections from book one of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the entire Iliad and Odyssey, five of the plays of Aeschylus, the Theogony and Shield of Heracles of Hesiod and the Ajax of Sophocles. We hope to be able to provide several more plays of Sophocles and examples of diagrammed prose in both Latin and Greek in the near future, beginning with Plato’s Euthyphro.
The diagrams have been fully integrated into the Alpheios tools and are available from an icon in the browser window. As always, the tools remain free and open source.
Sentence diagrams are an invaluable tool for close study of a text as well as learning its language, and when collected into “treebanks” have become a basic resource for contemporary corpus linguistics.
Creating sentence diagrams has proven to be pedagogically effective and popular with many students, and anyone interested in contributing their work to the ongoing project is encouraged to visit:
Tip o’ the pileus to Rose Williams for alerting us to this piece in USA Today:
When college-targeted publications feature articles on topics like the highest-paying college majors or the college majors that are most likely to land you a job, things do not always look too good for people studying the humanities.
Humanities departments face budget cuts now more than ever, and for small subdivisions of humanities, like classics, the future is even grimmer. Even at top departments like the one at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, budget decreases affect the number of courses that can be offered each semester and the number of faculty the department hires.
Sometimes, when I tell someone I’m a classics major, they don’t even understand what the department is. Classics as in classical music? Classics as in 18th century British literature? (No and no.) Classics as in Greek and Roman history? “Oh, so you want to be a teacher.”
People who hear someone is a classics major usually assume that person wants to be a high school Latin teacher or a college professor. While many classics majors choose to earn graduate degrees in classics and become teachers and professors, there are many other fields that undergraduates can enter with a classics degree. But more importantly, there’s a lot to be learned from classics, regardless of your profession.
Classics is a popular undergraduate major for law school students, because it teaches you to think critically and formulate arguments. There’s nothing like the speeches of the fifth century logographer Lysias to get the legal mindset started! Many students who major in classics also choose to work in libraries or museums.
Even if you’re not planning to enter one of these fields, classics is still a great field to study. Yes, Latin is a dead language, and ancient Greek is tremendously different from modern Greek. Yes, these societies ultimately collapsed. No, people don’t have dinner parties and discuss the meaning of love, Symposium-style. But the influence of classics on modern culture is still prevalent today.
Take the Percy Jackson young adult book series, for example. The novels have been on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 200 weeks, not to mention being made into a blockbuster movie franchise. The novels are based on Greek mythology, and their author, Rick Riordan, completed a Roman-inspired series following Percy Jackson’s success and an Egyptian-inspired series after that.
In cult classics that aren’t based in classical themes, the classical influence is still apparent. Harry Potter’s spells are a sort of Latin mash-up, and the names of many Pokémon derive from Latin roots.
Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has stated in multiple interviews that the games in the series were based on the idea of the Roman gladiatorial games, and more than a few Hunger Games characters have classically inspired names. For example, the emperor Nero forced Seneca the younger to commit suicide for alleged participation in a conspiracy; President Snow forced the Hunger Games’ Seneca to commit suicide when he allowed tributes from a district other than the Capitol’s to win the games.
Even if classics departments are shrinking and students are moving toward more economically favorable fields of study, series like these show that people today are still very much interested in the classical world. And who wouldn’t be? The cultures are fascinating, from Roman feasts to Greek vase painting.
People say they study history because history repeats itself, but studying classics is so much more than that. The classical world heavily shaped the western one, and much of America’s founding was based in how the Roman Republic was run. Classical influences are everywhere, from Greek columns on government buildings to Philadelphia’s city layout, which was loosely inspired by the Roman road system.
The argument that classical studies are no longer relevant really couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, we don’t deal with the issues that characters in Greek tragedy faced. (Has anyone you know murdered his father and married his mother lately?) But the works of great tragedians reach something deeper, issues that afflict humanity as a whole. In Euripides’ Hecuba, the titular character suffers because of her willingness to trust people, eventually becoming extremely cynical. If you read the tragedy, her character transformation is remarkably similar to Taylor Momsen’s Gossip Girl character Jenny Humphrey’s change from innocent and trusting to high school queen in the show’s first two seasons.
The times and settings change, but human issues don’t. And classics, more than any other field (aside from philosophy), deals with these issues in a way that’s still relevant today, and will still be relevant in the future.
The bottom line is, you should choose a major you love, even if you’re not sure how it will help you in your career search. If you can defend what you’re passionate about (and still have the skills to do they jobs you’re applying for), your employer will see that passion. I’m not a journalism major, but my studies in classics have given me a different perspective in my editorial experiences and have never hindered my job search. So do what you love — and take a course in your school’s classics department if you’ve got some extra room in your schedule.
- via: Majoring in the classics gives students an edge (USA Today)
… and the Latin Word for the Day:
- excitare (Transparent Language)
… and something new … from the Twitterfeed … dead guys tweeting:
τράγαινα [ᾱγ], ἡ, hermaphrodite, Arist.GA770b35.—
Henry George Liddell (@LiddellandScott) May 10, 2012
adv. from the root tol, whence tollo, tolero, tŭli; Gr. ΤΛΑΩ; prop. lifting up the feet; hence, on a trot, full trot—
Charlton T. Lewis (@LewisandShort) May 10, 2012
Canisius College will introduce a new bachelor’s degree in classics, the study of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations and the Greek and Latin languages, in fall 2010.
The new classics major will prepare students for graduate work in the field and also train a new generation of Latin teachers to meet increasing demand across the United States and Canada. The new major enhances the study of classics at Canisius, which already supports two popular classics minors. The classics major also aims to attract a greater number of academically gifted students to Canisius, and provide additional support and visibility to the college’s quality academic programs.
Students may choose one of two tracks within the new classics major: Greek and Hellenic studies or Latin and Roman studies. Course work in each track includes components of classical language, history and literature, as well as art history, philosophy, political science, and religious studies and philosophy.
“The study of classics is an integral part of a liberal arts education and of a Jesuit education in particular,” says Thomas Banchich, PhD, professor and chair of the Classics Department at Canisius College. “Classics develops in students an understanding of the historical dimension of the human condition and of the complex relationships between religion, language, philosophy and social structures, as well as the legacy of classical antiquity.”
The acceptance rate into graduate programs and professional schools is consistently high for classics students. Canisius classics alumni have entered medical schools, law schools and graduate programs in many humanities fields. They have become university presidents, directors of major publishing companies, bankers, scientists, software designers, classics professors and high school Latin teachers.
Some good news from the Telegraph:
Some 160 pupils in three schools will be given lessons in the native tongue of Archimedes and Herodotus from September.
The move follows the successful introduction of Latin to dozens of state primaries in England.
The Iris Project, a charity campaigning for the teaching of the Classics, which is leading the latest drive, said the subject had substantial knock-on benefits across the curriculum.
Lorna Robinson, charity director, who will be teaching the one-hour lessons every two weeks, told the Times Education Supplement: “People can be daunted at the idea of learning a language that has a different alphabet as it may feel like an additional challenge.
“Actually, though, we¹ve found that while it does add an extra dimension to the learning it¹s one that people take to quite quickly and really enjoy once they get going.
“Ancient Greek is just a wonderful language, full of beautiful words and fascinating concepts.”
Pupils will be taught the alphabet, basic grammar and vocabulary, as well as learning about ancient Greek culture, such as the development of the Olympic Games and the comedies of Aristophanes.
Latin is currently more widely taught than ancient Greek, although it is still mainly confined to private schools.
Advocates include Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who recently gave a Latin lesson to teenagers at a London secondary.
Under new plans, three Oxford primary schools will be given Greek lessons from September. A further 10 will get one-off taster sessions.
Sue Widgery, head of East Oxford primary in Cowley, where children speak 26 different languages, said: We were sufficiently enthused by Latin to give it a go with ancient Greek. It heightens children’s sense of language, they can see the connections between languages and it is fun.”
Congrats to Lorna Robinson … a tireless campaigner for such things.
So there was a bit of twitter chatter about the Daily Mail’s claims about celebrity tattoos ‘causing’ a revival of interest in Latin, and it was decided that we’d start a new feature here which possibly is a bit more realistic in regards to Latin and tattoos by showcasing the Latin/Classical ink festooning the dermises (dermides? dermida?) of Classicists and/or folks who actually work in Latin or Greek. Francesca Tronchin graciously consented to inaugurate this ongoing series:
Next we have a medievalist — Liam – who works with Latin, of course:
So … if you’re a Classicist or regularly use Latin and/or Ancient Greek in your daily pursuits, whether student or prof, and you sport some Classical ink, feel free to send it in so we can help drive this Latin revival along (don’t forget to send a link to your blog or website if you have one too!)…
In today’s Scotsman:
IT IS the dead language of ancient Rome, the Declaration of Arbroath, law books and medical terminology.
But a new campaign is using that most modern of inventions – Facebook – to wage a battle to save Latin in Scottish schools.
An online bid to protect qualifications in the study of the ancient language is picking up global support with the rallying
cry “Heri, hodie, semper!” – “Today, tomorrow, always!”
The campaign was launched in response to proposals by the Scottish Qualifications Authority to cut back the exam options available to pupils.
Entry-level exams in the subject could go, deterring pupils from taking the language at a higher level, say opponents.
The plans have been branded “elitist nonsense” and a “regression to past inequality” by allowing only the brightest pupils to gain qualifications and axeing options for youngsters with lower academic ability.
Helen Lawrenson, a recently retired teacher of Latin and English in Fife who launched the online campaign, said: “I would argue that Latin isn’t a dead language, but a timeless language.
“And the acquisition of Latin is undoubtedly an advantage in the study of law and medicine.”
The Facebook page has attracted support from pupils, teachers and academics around the world, many of whom have also written to the SQA and education minister Mike Russell in protest.
Tip o’ the pileus to Dorothy King for alerting us to this somewhat strange connection being made by the Daily Mail:
Celebrity Latin tattoos may be fuelling a revival of the ancient language in schools, it emerged today.
The OCR exam board today launched a new Latin qualification aimed at teenagers as secondary schools increasingly offer the subject, either during the curriculum or after-hours.
But examiners urged pupils not to emulate model Danielle Lloyd, whose Latin tattoo is riddled with errors.
While Beckham and Jolie’s Latin inscriptions are grammatically correct, Lloyd’s is meaningless, they said.
Her tattoo, ‘Quis attero mihi tantum planto mihi validus’, which is etched on to her shoulder, is intended to translate as ‘To diminish me will only make me stronger’.
But experts say the words in fact translate into something more akin to ‘Who I wear away for me only for me strong’.
Beckham, on the other hand, gets full marks for his two Latin tattoos.
The footballer has ‘Ut Amem Et Foveam’ (meaning ‘So that I love and cherish’) inscribed on his left forearm and ‘Perfectio In Spiritu’ (meaning ‘Perfection in spirit’) on his right.
Meanwhile Jolie chose ‘Quod me nutrit me destruit’, which means ‘What nourishes me also destroys me’.
Other celebrities embracing the trend include actor Colin Farrell, who has ‘Carpe Diem’ or ‘Seize the day’ inscribed on his left forearm.
OCR said the continuing influence of Latin in day-to-day life could be seen in baby naming.
It said three of the four top girls’ names have Latin origins – Olivia (from Latin ‘Oliva’ meaning Olive), Emily (from the Latin ‘Aemilianus’, a Latin family name) and the Grace (from Latin ‘Gratia’, meaning goodwill or kindness).
The OCR exam board said schools and youngsters were aware of the continuing influence of Latin and had expressed an interest in a qualification to recognise basic achievement in the subject.
The new ‘Entry Level Certificate in Latin’ is a qualification in its own right or could be taken as a precursor to a GCSE or A-level in Latin. It is likely to be taken by 13 to 17-year-olds.
It follows a surge in the number of secondary schools offering Latin over the past decade.
Surveys suggest that one in five secondaries now teaches the subject, including several hundred comprehensives.
A computer-based Latin course backed by Cambridge University is said to have made it easier for schools to offer Latin.
The team behind the project say schools are held back by a lack of access to Latin, rather than a lack of interest in it.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and a long-standing advocate of Latin, said: ‘I’m delighted that OCR are introducing the first ever Entry Level Qualification in Latin.
‘It proves how much demand there is for this great subject and will provide the perfect platform for the next generation of classicists.’
Students will be introduced to the Latin language, including a list of 100 Latin words. They will also study aspects of Roman culture.
Paul Dodd, qualifications manager for languages and literature at OCR, said: ‘Latin vocabulary has had a rich and lasting influence on English, as well as being the foundation for modern day Spanish, French and Italian.
‘Latin language and culture have played a major part in shaping our own intellectual, literary, artistic and political traditions.
‘Many schools already teach Latin alongside other subjects but have no way of formally recognising their learners’ achievements below GCSE.
‘Our new Entry Level qualification provides a good bridge to further attainment as well as providing a way of recognising the skills learned.’
The Daily Mail also has a sidebar with translations of assorted celeb tattoos. That said, all I can say is “Wow” … classic Daily Mail. Without even reading between the lines much it is pretty clear that the folks at OCR didn’t make this connection, nor does it seem like they even mentioned ink when launching this exam. Indeed, here’s the announcement from their site:
OCR has announced the launch of the first ever Entry Level qualification in Latin. The pre-GCSE level qualification, available from September 2010 for first teaching, is funded for use by the state sector and can be used as a stand-alone qualification or as a stepping stone to further study of the subject at GCSE and A Level.
The qualification provides learners with an introduction to the Latin language, and also includes study of aspects of Roman culture. Learning centres can choose the topics that they feel will best support their candidates’ introduction to the Latin language. Supporting topics include literature – either in translation or in Latin – a Roman site, Roman artefacts, slavery, the gladiators, the Roman army and more. The wide range of materials available to work with means teachers have flexibility to make the course both appealing and fun.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and longstanding advocate of the value of Latin, said: “I’m delighted that OCR are introducing the first ever Entry Level Qualification in Latin. It proves how much demand there is for this great subject and will provide the perfect platform for the next generation of Classicists.”
Paul Dodd, OCR’s Qualifications Manager for Languages & Literature said: “Many schools already teach Latin alongside other subjects but have no way of formally recognising their learners’ achievements below GCSE grade. Our new Entry Level qualification provides a good bridge to further attainment as well as providing a way of recognising the skills learned.”
… which is clearly echoed in the Daily Mail piece. Now I’m all for highlighting celebrity tattoos in Latin and regular readers of rogueclassicism will know that I’ve made comments on same in the past (e.g. here and here), but to make the leap from one of Angelina Jolie’s body parts to some sudden surge in Latin interest seems a bit of a stretch and, quite frankly, is somewhat insulting.
This one doesn’t appear to have been widely bruited about yet, but an item in the Baton Rouge Advocate shows that Latin (among other majors) is on the chopping block for that always-questionable ‘budgetary reason’ (with the usual platitudes about having to make ‘tough decisions’ yadda yadda yadda). As expected, the Louisiana Classicist blog is on the case:
- Latin and other languages in danger of being cut at LSU (includes suggestions on who to write, etc., along with links to a Facebook page)
- rallying support for LSU’s Latin (a letter from a former graduate)
We await the petition …
A very interesting project at Cornell:
Scholars looking for multiple sources and translations from among 1,000 years of ancient Greek and Latin texts will have a powerful new tool in their research arsenal with a database being developed at Cornell.
The Classical Works Knowledge Base (CWKB) — a relational database and specialized link resolver software — will facilitate linking from citations of ancient texts to the online versions of those texts. The database will ultimately cover all Latin and Greek authors from Homer to Bede, from approximately the eighth century B.C. to the mid-eighth century A.D.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently granted $215,000 to the American Philological Association (APA) to implement the project, spearheaded by principal investigator Eric Rebillard, professor of Classics and history, in collaboration with Cornell librarians David Ruddy and Adam Chandler. The APA project also received a Mellon planning grant in 2008.
“I got in touch with University Librarian Anne Kenney for consulting with library specialists about the possibility of using the OpenURL framework for linking citations to full texts. She organized a meeting, and after that the project developed in a collaborative way with David Ruddy in E-Publishing and Adam Chandler in Database Management,” Rebillard said.
Rebillard, Ruddy and Chandler have developed a working prototype at http://cwkb.org/. Rebillard expects the fully functional version of CWKB to be online in two years.
CWKB works by parsing OpenURL links (commonly used in libraries to help patrons retrieve scholarly articles) once a citation has been clicked on. OpenURL metadata is sent to the link resolver, which “creates several links — because you can have several versions for the same citation, in the original language and in translation,” Rebillard said.
“OpenURL was created about 10 years ago to solve this problem of linking from a citation to the full text,” said Chandler, the database management research librarian who programmed the CWKB software. “The current OpenURL method of journal citation isn’t quite what we needed, so we designed another metadata format for linking to these canonical works.”
The electronic version of the database of classical bibliography L’Année philologique (The Year in Philology) will be the first abstract and index database to propose such links to CWKB. Many other resources are potential users of the new tool.
“For example, the works of the Founding Fathers are full of references to classical texts,” Rebillard said. “It would greatly enhance the reading of the Founding Fathers to have links to those texts.”
With applications for canonical citations in other fields and types of literature, the project can serve as a model and tool for scholarship in a number of disciplines.
“We’ve wanted to keep the OpenURL metadata part of our project as widely useful as possible,” Ruddy said. “This work can be applied to any discipline that has developed conventions of textual citation which are reasonably independent of specific editions, such as in Biblical or Shakespearean studies.”
Hopefully this will be something that is open access …
Of course, he has another gig:
He came, he saw, he got told off for not paying attention in class and then he was heckled by binmen. It was all in a morning’s work for the supply teacher at St Saviour’s and St Olave’s Church of England secondary girls’ school – or, as he is more commonly known, the Mayor of London.
The classroom full of 15-year-old girls in south-east London was far from the one at Eton where Boris Johnson conjugated his first ancient verb. But for Boris, there is no fear: he began his lesson by telling the girls about the proclivities of Roman women, in particular their fondness for gladiators.
Everyone was a little awkward. Then in an episode of cunning, he conjured two sentences that he helped the class put together in Latin: the woman loves the gladiator, but the women do not love the charioteer.
The Mayor, former King’s scholar (one of Eton’s highest awards) and Brackenbury scholar (Oxford) was playing teacher to promote a scheme which aims to persuade companies to give employees a day off each year to be spent helping the local community.
Mr Johnson came to offer his skills as a classicist, and all-round good egg, to pupils studying for Latin GCSEs. Although the subject is not on the syllabus, it is taught in lunchtimes and after hours by English teacher, Sophie Hollender, and voluntary emissaries from Westminster College.
The Mayor’s long-lasting affection for Latin comes from his belief in its benefits beyond the realm of dusty academia. “I won’t say it’s the route to colossal riches,” he told the class, “but I read almost nothing but Latin and Greek for 25 years, and I’m now in charge of every bus in London.”
He added: “It helps you be more logical. It gives you an understanding of your own language too.” There was a ripple of nervous laughter from an audience amused and slightly wary of Mr Johnson, whose bike, bray and bouffant thatch were novel to the surroundings.
He found himself rapped on the knuckles for not paying attention during the class discussion following a clip from Ben-Hur. “That was a bad moment,” he confided after the bell had rung. “I forgot I was supposed to be writing down my thoughts and feelings. And when she [the teacher] got to me, I had not a single adjective written on my paper.”
He appeared to have quite a freestyle approach when it came to his turn in front of the whiteboard, muttering “teaching is hard”, before leading the assembled in a hearty chant of “amo, amas, amat” and a further, rather less certain version of the passive.
So far, so Cambridge Latin Course: the comforting repetition is the same regardless of student or social strata. I learnt Latin this way, studying in lunchtimes and evenings, because it was not on the curriculum at my comprehensive. Thanks to two teachers, one of whom called in a favour from her alma mater Cheltenham Ladies’ College (which was throwing out old textbooks), I got a little of what some call a “classical education”.
“Maintained schools haven’t had enough government encouragement,” Mr Johnson said at the end, adding: “I was drained by that. And the kids knew far more than I thought they would.”
After answering binmen’s questions on the congestion charge at the school gates, he was ushered away for the next mayoral event, wearily getting on to his bike with the admission: “I’m also deeply hungover.”
David Karp ’10 has been named this year’s valedictorian, and Marguerite Colson ’10 has been selected as Latin salutatorian, Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel announced at the faculty meeting on Monday.
A history major who has excelled at Latin during her time at the University, Colson is the highest-ranking senior in her department and is ranked 14th in her class overall with 22 A’s and A-pluses after seven terms. Upon learning about her selection as salutatorian, “I was totally shocked,” Colson said.
Colson’s family was thrilled to learn that she had received the honor, she said. “They were really excited, though some of them didn’t even know who the salutatorian was,” she noted, explaining that the confusion may have arisen because the title often refers to the student with the second-highest GPA in the class.
Colson attributed her success at the University to not putting excessive academic pressure on herself. “The idea of finding a balance — I can’t even pretend that I’ve spent every moment in a library,” she said. “I’ve had a ton of fun here; I have a great group of friends; I’m in an eating club. I guess these are all things that I feel like make me like the place as much as I do … If I went to a place that put a 100 percent emphasis on academics, I don’t think I would have thrived there.” Colson is a member of Ivy Club.
She was awarded the Quin Morton ’36 Writing Seminar Essay Prize and is a fellow at the Writing Center. For her senior thesis, Colson researched former secretary of state Edward Stettinius’s role in establishing the United Nations.
Classics professor Denis Feeney, who taught Colson in a course on Virgil’s “Aeneid,” described her as a valuable member of the class.
“I came to rely on her pointed and incisive interventions,” he said in a statement that Malkiel read at the faculty meeting. “She displayed a remarkable critical maturity; together with her highly impressive language skills, this marked her out as one of the very best Latin students it has been my pleasure to teach in 10 years at Princeton.”
Colson is also a Community House volunteer at the Princeton Nursery School and tutors English as a second language. After graduation she will work at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as a Princeton Project 55 fellow.
Karp and Colson will speak at Commencement on June 1.