The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

ARLT Summer School  1975

held at Matlock College of Education

Directed by Mr E. Hunt

Report on the A.R.L.T. Summer School held at Matlock 1975

     As the Summer School had been condensed into five days, the programme was necessarily more intensive than usual, and many who attended found it hard to choose between the alternatives, often trying to get a taste of both.

One of the highlights for me was watching Mr. J.E. Hunt taking a class from Westfield Comprehensive School using his own Greek course.  It was thrilling to see the pupils coping with and obviously enjoying Greek under his direction.  The Cambridge Latin Course was demonstrated ably and with humour by Mr. Young with some of his boys from Chesterfield Grammar School.

     Prose composition in the hands of Mr. Boyd and Mr. Cox was stimulating, with passages to translate ranging from Thackeray to Solzhenitsyn, while others explored the field of literary appreciation under the guidance of Mrs. Dennis or Miss Coutts.  Mr. Smith took a class in comprehension while others tried to improve their pronunciation of Latin with Mrs. Clifford’s help.  We were also grateful to Mr. Hazel who fitted in a Greek pronunciation class in response to many requests mainly I suspect from those who, like me, were made even more aware of the inadequacies of their Greek pronunciation by the Homer reading class.

     The Homer reading class, led by Mr. Lloyd, proved very popular and was much enjoyed, not least for his delightful home-produced texts, for which he was kind enough to explain his production methods.  Other groups read Catullus with Mr. Hazel, Tacitus with Mrs. Anstey or Virgil with Mr. Craddock.

     A wide range was offered in the afternoon activity groups.  Mrs. Hunt again persuaded people to overcome their inhibitions in the drama group.  Mr. Wilkie set his students to build a Roman fort out of polystyrene blocks; Mr. Hunt organised a large and enthusiastic group in singing Orff’s Carmina Burana and medieval carols, and Mrs. Hulse’s group produced visual aids ranging from paintings to board games.  These together with her own illustrations of the Theseus legend were enjoyed by all when displayed on the last evening.

     The activities of the Circuli covered conversations in Latin with Mr. Craddock, a discussion on Seneca with Mr. Richards and a discussion on Classical Studies in the lower school led by Mr. O’Neill.

     An interesting programme of lectures was arranged for the evenings.  Mr. Morton gave a progress report on the Cambridge Latin Course which dispelled many of the doubts and criticisms.  Professor H.H. Huxley entertained us with a humorous dissertation on classical birds entitled “A flutter of pinions”.  Professor J. N. Rudd from Bristol fascinated his audience with his lecture on Ovid, even drawing a large number back from the bar for an “encore”.  Mr. H. McL Currie delivered an informative lecture on Virgil’s third Eclogue, then, in a seminar the following day, gave a comparative approach to Homer’s Odyssey, showing its influence on the art and literature not only of Rome, but up to our own times including “Watership Down”.  Mr. Hulse shared with us the fruits of his research on Hellenistic poetry, and Mr. Wilkie gave a practical demonstration of the use of slides with related tapes.

     The reader may be wondering how such a full programme could be fitted into such a short time, and will be more surprised to learn that the A.G.M. Of the A.R.L.T. also formed part of the programme, as did the traditional final evening entertainment with the Latin Oration given by the director, Mr. Edwin Hunt, drama, and music both vocal and instrumental.  Two brilliant versions in Latin of the murder of Agrippina raised cries of “pudor” and “iterum” from the audience.  I shall long remember Mrs. Dennis’s Agrippina.

     It would seem that in such a busy five days no time would be left over to get to know people, and yet for me the happy and friendly atmosphere was my strongest impression.  We are all grateful to Mr. Hunt for running such a good Summer School.

Mrs. Carol Ferris

A Visitor at A.R.L.T. Summer School 1975

The brochure for the 1975 A.R.L.T. Summer School invited participants to bring their families, who could enjoy the beauties of Derbyshire.  This was mainly intended, I feel sure, to encourage lady members to bring their children rather than be forced to stay at home to look after them and so miss the course.  I don’t think anyone expected what my wife brought - an industrialist, international businessman, ex-physicist and non-classic!

The beauties of Derbyshire were attractive but I was looking for much more.  In industry, we are continually concerned with training and communication but we often practise them badly; I wanted to see how really expert teachers performed.  As employers, we look for trained minds in people who are accurate and articulate.  Classicists have traditionally been high on the list.  Would this “reformed Latin teaching” enhance such training or detract from it?  As tax payers, we realise that industry provides (directly or indirectly) almost all the wherewithal to pay for education; are we getting value for money?  In management, we need not merely specialists but humanists; my own experience had indicated that the study of Greece and Rome seemed to be a great help - the problems of law and organisation in an ancient city state are amazingly similar to those in a modern corporation.

Finally, it would be fun to discover what the A.R.L.T. was all about.  The Latin teaching which my generation remembered certainly needed reform!

Above all,  I found that the Summer School was a renewal of faith - for the cognoscenti!  The ignorant novice was not banned but he had to fend for himself.  This was not such a problem for me - I did not expect to understand - but for the classicist newcomers, who often did not know how to choose between alternative sessions nor were they even able to guess what would actually take place in the different classes.  Discomfort and discouragement of this kind could be removed by by the provision of some explanatory notes before the conference and by a little “moral tutoring” of newcomers, by old hands, in the first day or so.

I do not mean to suggest that anyone was unkind - everyone was delightful.  Well, nearly everyone.  A couple of the cognoscenti did contrast strongly with every one else by their frequent insistence on demonstrating their superiority.  (That was even more off-putting than being under-informed.)  But an Association for Latin Teaching - whether for its reform or otherwise - doesn’t need prime donne (or primi uomini ) who sing a different work from everyone else - no matter how beautifully.

The visiting lecturers were most interesting and showed a proper progression through the week.  I did not expect to be able to understand everything, of course, but it was odd that I seemed to do better with the more scholarly lecturers …. !

The five-day programme seemed to be too compressed and would have benefited greatly from an extra weekend.  At first, I feared that the programme might not be much use to a practising teacher but the impression faded as the week progressed.  The final, review session was far too rushed and should have taken twice as long; people were obviously keenly interested and such a session should produce good ideas for future summer schools and other events.

Some members, who gave talks during the course, contributed to the feeling of compression by taking too long to get started.  This seemed to be due to some sort of modesty which inhibited a person from getting down to the subject, in case this seemed boastful in front of his peers.  If such a prologue is really essential, it should be polished off  in the first few crisp moments - or else be put into writing and distributed beforehand.

I was particularly struck by three obsessions - the Cambridge method - the “bogey boguey” accent  - and the name of the Association.

The first is outside my competence, of course - but it did strike me that the price of this popularising device could well be in the very vigour (and pupil selection) that has made classics a favourite training with managerial employers.  Certainly, the demonstration lessons in Latin did not recommend themselves to me as the best foundation for accuracy or for humanism.  (Were all those male chauvinist jokes really necessary?)

The “bogey” accent was funny.  I could only judge by the “music” - and some readings of Vergil struck me as very beautiful - but some of the more extreme practitioners just made me laugh.  The modulation was even more of a  problem than the pronunciation - a monotone imitation of the Epilogue does not bring out the full beauty of the sound.

I may be qualified to comment on the Association’s name because I am responsible for several thousand trademarks and I am deeply involved in the marketing of branded goods.  I should be extremely surprised if it mattered what the letters A.R.L.T. stood for - many products and organisations who outgrow their nominal descriptions, simply name themselves with their initial letters.  There is some argument against changing the letters themselves however because this can cause you to lose recognition (and recognition takes years longer to establish than people usually think).   You want to benefit from your reputation and the achievements of the past, without suffering from an image which is old and outdated.  This need not be too difficult if you are active in demonstrating how up to date you are - “by their works shall ye know the them” and not by their names.

You could always add “new” to the name, to produce the “New ARLT”; or you could change the significance of some of the letters.  How about “Always Reading Latin Texts”?  Or would the Cambridge enthusiasts appreciate “Association for the Reconstruction of Latin Technology”?  If recent trends in schools continue, perhaps we require the “R” to stand for “Rehabilitation” or even “Retention”.

But my overall impression of the Summer School - and its admirable Super-Director - suggests that your title really stands for

“Association for Really Lively Teaching”!

Thank you for having me.


“Association for Really Lively Teaching”

Read A visitor’s experience of

Matlock 1975