Debating Latin in the Curriculum

Tip o’ the pileus to the ARLT blog for pointing us to an excerpt from Hansard from Monday past … the matters being discussed are assorted things about education, including curriculum:

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): The baccalaureate’s emphasis on ancient history and Latin will allow our students to cope admirably with the Roman invasion 2,000 years ago, but leave them less able to cope with modern life, because of the neglect of IT. In which century are the Government living?

Michael Gove: It is a source of considerable pride to me that the number of students studying Latin in comprehensives is the highest ever. We are presiding over the greatest renaissance in Latin learning since Julius Caesar invaded. [ Interruption. ] Those who are about to answer should be saluted, as we say in Latin. The critical thing is that we have to ensure that our examinations in every subject are up there with the best in the world. It is striking that before he went to university, one of the iconic figures of the 21st century—Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook—studied Latin, Greek and classical Hebrew.

Michael Gove is the UK Secretary of State for Education  … I always find it interesting how educational arguments always seem to be an either/or thing … I also continue to be amazed that folks (on both sides of the pond) continue (it seems) to not understand that IT is a necessary means to an end, not an end  in itself (in a grade school setting). In our board, we are generally given two computers per class, only one of which is usually working. I’ve often wanted to haul assorted powers-that-be (say, twenty at a time) into a room to give a presentation that they have to take notes for … but only give them two pencils, one of which is broken and one which is only an inch long. That said, it’s kind of sad that this sort of debate/discussion likely will never happen in Canada and/or Ontario … the value of Latin just isn’t appreciated at the government level, alas.

Classic British Open

Bust of Julius Caesar from the British Museum
Image via Wikipedia

The incipit of a piece in the Charlotte Observer:

Just off the English Channel’s gray beach that runs along the eastern edge of Royal St. George’s golf course, there’s a rutted pathway that follows the shore. It’s only slightly more narrow than the paved road that winds nearby, threading around the scene of this week’s Open Championship and into the adjacent town with its ivy-covered stone buildings.

The pathway was put there for Julius Caesar in 55 BC when he came rolling through these parts, invading the region long before Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton and Greg Norman did their own turns as conquerors on the heaving dunes at St. George’s. […]

Obviously a bit of fantasy going on there … can’t really imagine folks saying “Oooo … Caesar’s coming … better put in a path for him!”  But as long as we’re talking about invasion matters, it’s probably salutary to note that nothing appears to have come of the theories that Caesar’s invasion didn’t happen, or that it happened a week earlier than conventionally thought.

Another Day, Another Smuggler


A 48-year-old man from Florina, northwestern Greece was arrested on Thursday charged with antiquity smuggling.

The suspect, while driving his car near Vassiliada village in Kastoria prefecture, met up with a police roadblock. A search of his car and later of his house in Florina revealed a large number of Roman and Byzantine era coins, other antiquities and photos believed to indicate locations where antiquities are buried.ana-mpa

Specifically, police found and confiscated 81 ancient coins, two marble statues from the Hellenistic period, the head from a female statuette, two copper rings, a lecythus, a medal, six clay seals, four copper brooches, two metal detectors, one perfume container, two USB flash drives and eight photographs of probable sites of antiquities.