A call from Harry Mount in the Telegraph:
There’s an excellent new report out today by Politeia (which, as any fule know, is the ancient Greek for citizenship).
The gist of it is that Latin should be taught in state primary schools. Quite right, I think, and for the reasons they say – it improves your English and your foreign languages – but also because it’s such a beautiful language, at the root of all western European literature.
Also, it’s the last subject that is still taught in a rigorous, old-fashioned way. For half a millennium, until around 1960, classics formed the heart of the curriculum (which, the same fule will know, means “a race” in Latin, from curro, -ere – I run) in British schools.
The subject has withered away since then but, like some long-forgotten, super-civilised province left behind after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the surviving outposts of Latin teaching still follow the ancient rules.
I teach Latin to some friends’ children – private and state-educated – and it’s amazing the stuff they learn from Latin that they should learn from their English lessons but don’t: subjects, objects, verbs, tenses, conditional clauses, subjunctives. Teach a child the genitive, and they’ll never get the grocer’s apostrophe wrong again. No wonder that my colleague Toby Young is keen to have Latin taught at his proposed new school in Ealing.
The complex intellectual scaffolding of teaching and learning has been removed from other subjects; Latin puts it back in.
There are some excellent comments at the Telegraph too …