SUMMARY OF WORK DONE DURING THE FOUR—YEARS' COURSE
AT the Perse School Latin is commenced two years after French and two years before Greek. This allows for four years of Latin before a boy enters the Classical VI; of these four years he spends the first in a lower III form, the second in an upper III, the third in a IV form, and the fourth in a V.
The First Year.
There are generally two parallel sets of beginners - whenever, in fact, the numbers exceed thirty - which are often redistributed after the first term into a weaker and a stronger set. It is desirable, owing to the necessity of reaching Scholarship standard before 19, to begin Latin at 12, but it is not always possible to do so. The ideal number for a beginners' class is about twenty, but here again the ideal often has to give way to necessity. There is one daily lesson, of forty-five minutes, that is, six lessons a week are given. There is no special distribution of five of these lessons, but it has been found advisable to give up one lesson a week to a grammatical test in writing. This provides an excellent check upon the shirking of grammar, and also gives practice in writing, a point which must not be neglected. A short home-work period (twenty minutes) is available nightly, although this is not always needed. But it must always be permissible for the master to set as home-work the learning of any new grammar which may have been needed for the day's lesson; and it is well for the boys to get into the habit of learning every day all the new words taken down in their notebooks (for which see below). Consequently it is well to have a short time for home-work every night, though it is not essential.
The first-year book used at the Perse School is Initium (by W.S.Jones and R.B.Appleton. Cambridge University Press, 2s 6d. net); and the ground covered during the first year may briefly be summarised, as the accidence and syntax of the simple sentence, the five declensions, the indicative mood, active and passive, of the four regular conjugations, together with such common irregular verbs as volo and eo, and a fairly large vocabulary.
The Second Year.
For the second year we also have two sets — a weaker and a stronger — following up the first year. The average age is 13 or 14, and the average number about twenty-five. As in the first year, there are six lessons per week, of which there is no special allocation until the last term of the year is reached, when one lesson is set aside for the reproduction of a story (preparatory to composition, on which see below) and one to a combination of a correction-period with repetition and songs (also described below). The books used are, for the three terms of the year:
The ground covered during the year is the whole of the ordinary syntax. This is introduced to the boys during the first term of the year in Pons Tironum, which takes up one construction after another and repeats it almost ad nauseam in the course of a specially written narrative. Ludi Persici consists of some six or eight original plays, based on material gathered from ancient authors, in which the constructions are no longer kept separate, but used freely according as dramatic and narrative exigencies demand. These plays are, of course, not only read but also acted in the classroom. Puer Romanus begins very simply, but soon becomes more difficult. It is intended to last for three terms thus it carries us on until the end of the second term of the third year — and contains a good deal of both prose and verse by actual Latin authors worked into the narrative. The proportion of this increases as the book proceeds, until in the latter half it predominates. This is, of course, deliberate, and serves to lessen the difficulty which a pupil will always find, in passing from the more or less simple Latin of a specially written modern textbook to the more complex sentences of an actual author.
The home-work in the second year comes on alternate days three times a week, and each piece of home-work is supposed to take forty minutes. During the first two terms of the year it is generally allotted as follows: one piece to the learning of new grammar or syntax; one to composition or to translation into English of part of the work read in class ; and one to the learning of words, phrases, and anything else taken down in the notebook during the week. By the third term of the year homework is no longer needed for new grammar and syntax. Its place is therefore taken by the learning of verse pieces from Puer Romanus and parts of the Ludi Persici by heart.
The Third Year.
This is also divided into two sets; of which the weaker continues the work of the second year, and achieves what the good set did in that year.
The average age is 14-15, and the average number about twenty-five. Two extra periods — making eight in all — are now given to Latin, in order that special attention may be given to composition. The eight periods are distributed as follows: Reading 4; Composition 2; Unseen translation 1; Repetition 1. As to books, Puer Romanus is finished by the end of the second term, and Virgil, Aeneid II, is read in the third term. In composition the reproduction of a story continues for the first two terms of the year. These stories are told, not read, to the class, and will be described later. In the third term the composition work always varies a good deal. Sometimes the stories are continued, but generally some attempt is made to improve the accuracy of the class by giving them sentences from English into Latin taken from Bradley's Arnold or some similar book. At the same time they must be introduced to oratorical style - for the boys will be reading Cicero next year — and taught something about the Latin period. How this is done is described at its proper place in the main body of the book. With an exceptionally good set an attempt is made to enact a Roman trial with original speeches: this also is described later. Home-work, as in the second year, is given three times a week (forty minutes each). One portion is allotted to composition, and one to repetition, every week. The remaining one is given in alternate weeks to translation into English and to the learning of new words. New words and phrases do not now come so fast, so that once a fortnight is found to be enough for their learning; and the translation into English is required merely for the master's information, that he may see if anyone has been pretending to understand what he did not understand, so that once a fortnight has been found sufficient for this also.
The Fourth Year
The Fourth Year is very similar to the third, or rather to the work done in the last term of that year. The average age is 15—I6, and the average number about twenty. There is a similar allocation of the eight periods to that adopted for the third year. In this conspectus it is not necessary to say anything about the reading, which is usually taken from the following list (one book per term)
Cicero: Pro Archia
Cicero: Pro Rege Deiotaro
Cicero: Pro Sexto Roscio Amerino
Livy: Book XXI or XXII
Horace : Select Odes 15—20)
Virgil: Another book of the Aeneid.
At this stage formal Latin prose as distinct from free composition is begun ; the methods of the earlier years are carried on and developed.