The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

Newsletter 20: October 2004

Dear Classical Friend,


Half Term Holiday - yippee!


If you teach in the UK you will probably be looking forward to a breather this next week and a chance to catch up on the rest of your life. Strange how three times a year you promise yourself that this term you will not get so wrapped up in school that you have no time for anything else; you really will go on reading novels and keeping up with absent friends. And by the end of the first week your promises are forgotten. Well, that's what always happened to me.

Or perhaps you are like Hilary Walters: "Off to Tunisia with 40 kids on Sunday - should be good! Will send some pics." If, like Hilary, you are taking a school party on a Classics trip, bon voyage - and I'd love to share any useful pictures you take via the Blog.


Frustration for would-be Latin teachers


Our President, Alison, drew my attention to a situation that is really quite worrying, and asked me to pass on the bad news.

It's about alternative ways of getting a teaching qualification. Alison told me a little while ago about the Open University's flexible learning scheme, and I added it to our website's FAQ page. So far so good, but when Mark, a would-be Classics teacher, enquired further, he got the reply that the scheme will not apply to Classics. He received this answer:

Thank you for your enquiry. Unfortunately we are not offering a Flexible PGCE in Classics and at present there are no plans to introduce any new subjects. Perhaps try the Teacher Training Agency website for a list of PGCE Classics providers.

Yours sincerely

Alvaro Roberts

ITT Centre

The Open University

Mark's comment:

This means I now cannot go ahead with my plans to train as a Classics teacher, since the only other PGCE courses (Cambridge & Kings College London) are full-time, which I cannot do while looking after my little boy.

He adds:

Is there a story here for your website about how it's now virtually impossible for a mature student to train as a Classics teacher?

Now I've had this e-mail from Charles, telling about another possible route being blocked:

Re: Your message about the OU not providing teacher Training for Classics. The Independent Schools Council have very recently become a DRB for the Graduate Training Programme and they are not providing the opportunity to train to teach Classics. I had great hopes of being able to train via this route. Training funded by the TTA has to include a National Curriculum subject.

The only gleam of hope I can see in Charles' message is the word 'include'. Is there any way of training for a National Curriculum subject plus Classics? Or would someone with a Classics degree and a teaching qualification in another language be acceptable for teaching Classics? I don't know the answers. I'm casting about in the dark for possible ways out, and would value your input.


Websites to visit

************************* Various Latin games and tests Historia Nummorum. A manual of Greek numismatics.


The other side of the dime


Having passed on so many encouraging news items and press articles about Latin in the USA, I was startled and a bit downcast to be told, in the course of a very cheerful and positive correspondence with a lady in California who registered with the ARLT site as part of her preparation to introduce Latin to Home Schooling students, of her very negative experience in American schools:

"I taught at public schools for many years, and gave it up about the time it became common to have to pass through a metal detector to enter the school. The schools in the U.S. have become abominable, including most of the private schools. I speak from experience, having gone the route of private schools, also. There is very little discipline, and even less motivation. Hopefully, that will change, as things seem to be on the upswing from 'warm and fuzzy' learning, to disciplined and controlled classrooms where learning is the priority. "For now, I will stick with home-scholars. The classes for the classic languages don't begin until University level in the U.S., and I believe they need and CAN be taught at a much younger age. Unfortunately, the educational system here doesn't seem to look at the facts and statistics on that, so I will ignore them, and go my own way."

I wish this lady well as she 'goes her own way'. I was glad to be able to introduce her to the Cambridge course. She writes:

"After looking over the Cambridge Latin Course, I ordered all 5 books from! I am excited, since they seem to follow the same type of format the Lingva Latina does, but with a much more interesting story line, especially if I have older students. The younger ones will surely like the Lingva Latina, however, the ones who are a bit older, will likely enjoy the Cambridge Course. There are a lot of good resources on line, that have good quizzes, based on the Cambridge Course, also...and that is a great thing. I believe I'll be in better shape to use the resources on the website, also, since most seem to use that course. Whatever works to catch and hold the interest of the students, is fine with me. Thank you for pointing that Course out to me! When I looked it over, I was immediately enchanted with the story line, and wanted to read it myself!"

All this talk of Home Schooling made me look more closely at the following 'USA Latin is flourishing' piece. Spot the telltale description of Emma in paragraph two:

MILLWOOD — Emma Leahy walked away from a six-day Latin competition this summer with four gold medals and 27 ribbons. The National Junior Classical League rotates its annual convention among 46 states with chapters. This year, the University of Richmond hosted the event.

Last year, her first of studying Latin, Emma, a home-schooler, won at the state level, which allowed her to compete at the national convention in San Antonio. She brought home five firsts, two seconds, four thirds, and three fourths, earning 10th place overall in graphic arts, second overall in creative arts, and sixth overall for individual achievement. In July, on her home turf in Virginia, the now 12-year-old competed at the national level and did even better. Her booty included 17 first-place awards, two seconds, and seven thirds.

There were 1,350 student delegates at the convention, according to Emma’s mother.


Any cheer in Malta? Hmmm


As you know, I love to hear how things are in your part of the world. Michael Cefai told me this about Malta, where he teaches at MCAST.

"The Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) is a Vocational Training College, which was set up only three years ago. It consists of a number of Institutes and I lecture in the Institute of Business and Commerce. Besides offering certificate and diploma courses in Business, this Institute also offers students Advanced and Intermediate Matriculation Level Courses in a number of subjects for examinations set by the University of Malta. It does not, however, offer Latin as a subject, even though examinations at Advanced and Intermediate Levels exist. Nowadays hardly any student takes up Latin studies, especially now that Latin is no longer an obligatory requisite for Law and Theological Studies, when in the past an O-Level was a basic entry requirement. A great pity and a great loss!

"I was especially interested in this site because I studied Latin and taught Latin at Secondary level for some years at the Archbishop’s Seminary. At that time we re-introduced Latin after an absence of some years, especially for those few, who were interested in continuing with their studies for the priesthood. However, I was not only eager to re-introduce the study of the Latin language, but I had also proposed that in the earlier years of secondary studies all students could follow an introduction to Classical Culture and Civilization. This was to serve a dual purpose: first of all to give students a general and basic idea of the basis of Western Culture and Civilization, and secondly, those students, who wanted to go deeper into the Latin World, could then move on to a study of the language.

"Even though today I do not teach Latin, yet I am a great admirer of Classical Culture and Civilization and for this reason I would like to keep abreast with all the latest developments on the subject."


Just imagine being the father of a Olympic medallist!


Brian Bishop doesn't have to imagine - he is! Congratulations to the whole family. Catherine's achievement and details can be found here:

Brian, by the way, is a keen Latin speaker, and writes: I have noticed the reference in the September Newsletter to Latin gatherings. You could at some time mention of the London Latin Circle. It gets together informally aiming (but not quite succeeding) at once a month. Dates are fixed by e-mails. Anyone interested in chatting in Latin over a pint or a coffee could drop a line to A. GRATIVS GARSEIVS F.V. Avitus


Making the ARLT Blog more useful - I hope


There are 304 posts on the Blog so far - a picture counts as a post - and many of them are designed to be useful long-term, so I have gathered these articles under headings: Practical Teaching, Publicising the Classics, Educational Politics, and Roman Britain. These are shown as folders to the left of the Blog, and opening each folder should bring up all the articles on that subject. The pictures have long been grouped under headings (14 so far).

Does anyone visit the Blog? Yes indeed. In October so far there have been 8007 page views. By far the most popular item this month has been on the free Roman calendar from Cambridge Latin Course (303 views), followed by the lecture notes on "Why study Greek vase-painting?", the audio of the OCR GCSE set texts, the O.B.I. (!), and Brian Bishop's challenge on the future of Latin.

While giving statistics, I can mention that the ARLT site proper had 3272 visits last month, or 36611 hits. The numbers are rising fairly steadily. There are over 200 on the mailing list for this newsletter. (That's enough statistics - Ed.)

Have a great half term, and keep in touch.

Best wishes