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The Association for Latin Teaching

Newsletter 23: February 2005


Dear Classical Friend,


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Change with changing times

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Sorry these newsletters seem to be coming at slightly longer intervals. What happens is that most of the interesting bits and pieces that I used to store in my 'Next Newsletter' folder now go straight onto the Blog. Now the new arrangement clearly suits some people. In the first 26 days of this month there have been 26,646 page views of the Blog. But news doesn't arrive in your e-mail in-box as it does in this newsletter, unless you take some simple action. So ...


Would you like to know when some nugget is posted on the ARLT Blog? It's very easy to arrange.


1. Bring up the Blog by visiting this page: http://arlt.blogware.com/blog


2. Click on Subscribe at the top right of the page.


3. Fill in the form that you find there. You should get an e-mail with confirmation.


4. Then go back to the main Blog page and visit Subscribe again. You can now order your notifications.


You can choose to receive an e-mail every time an article on a particular topic is posted. You might, for example, be very practical and tick boxes for Practical Teaching and Classroom Aids only, or you might be interested in keeping up with UK Educational Politics (the latest from government or the teaching unions), or perhaps it's just Classical Civilisation, with the sections on Roman Britain, Roman Society, Athenian Civic Life, Sculpture (for instance). Or you might like the lot.


Then you can also choose to receive notice of Comments on articles. Would there were more of these!


At the moment only two people subscribe in this way, and that may well be because other people haven't realised that it's possible. Life is too short to check up on web sites, even one as fascinating as this (Who do you think you are kidding, David?), every day or two. To get an e-mail listing the titles of articles posted could save you valuable time.


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Optimus quisque Eboracum conveniet

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Just time to remind you of the ARLT Refresher Day next Saturday in York. There may still be time (I don't know for sure) to register and attend. As the information page says: For further information please contact the Director on 0845 456 0992 .


With Peter Jones and Emma Stafford lecturing, and 13 Option Groups at my last count, led by the likes of Barbara 'Minimus' Bell, Prof. David 'Horace' West and a galaxy of others, it's a mouth-watering prospect. Check out the web page and see how many days, hours etc. to the great day, as well as reminding yourself of all that's on offer: /home/arltcouk/public_html/refresher2005.php


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New on the ARLT web site

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Hilary Walters has contributed more Cicero A level unseens to the 'For Teachers' section (thanks, Hilary), and I have made a little progress with the commentary on Livy book 30 (just 1 ½ chapters to go). This latter is now not only accessible from the For Teachers section, but freely available to students via 'teaching' - 'set books'. I have put a link on that latter page to David Swift's line-by-line literal translation of the AQA Aeneid 2 selection.


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Over the garden wall - what others are doing

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As you probably know, I invite teachers to tell me how the Classics are faring in their school, warning them that I may pass the news around in this newsletter. Andrew Homer (note the name, or you won't understand the last sentence!) sent me this about Watford Grammar School for Girls. It's really very encouraging:


Year VII : all students have 1 period each fortnight of 'Classics', which includes a Latin 'taster'.


(Present) Year VIII : 72 (out of 185) are studying Latin (timetabled against French/ German)


GCSE years : 10/ 8

AS : 2 (1 from Boys' School)

A2 : 2 (both from WGGS)


Classical Civilisation fairly healthy :


Yr X : 46; Yr XI : 48; L6th : 14; U6th : 16


Greek (amazing, but true ... taught in lunch hour)


Yr X : 2 (aiming for GCSE in 2006) (taught by my colleague, Jean Marshall)


L6 : 5 (as above, 2006) (taught by yours truly)


As for the Classical name; yes, it's mainly of the Simpsons variety. However, at interview at Oxford in 1978 (which rather betrays my vintage I fear), some wit wrote 'let him in, and Virgil too'.


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Spot the mistakes, but admire the spirit!

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Everyone now knows the gluteus maximus from the TV advert, (' ... a pain in the gluteus maximus ..'), but apparently not every non-classicist knows that it's Latin. And there are a couple of bits of doubtful Latin in the recommended chat-up lines here, and the definition of 'toga' is somewhat stretched, but, hey!, enjoy this account of an American Classical celebration, and see if you can't do something similar!


Pinelands fest is a treat for students, faculty


Published in the Times-Beacon 2/17/05 By PAULA SCULLY Staff Writer


LITTLE EGG HARBOR -- The most esteemed ruler, his Heftiness, the Emperor Gluteas Maximus, was carried in on a Roman litter by slaves (teachers) at Pinelands Junior High School for the Fourth Annual Roman Festival.


Gluteas Maximus was eating grapes Feb. 10, adding to his weight, as the slaves struggled to bear him to the dais where the Praetorian Guard (students) stood watch over the royal family (more students and social studies teacher Kathy Smith).


All this was done to the ominous quick beat of drums indicating the approach of the boss of sauce. Four Roman maidens held up signs that told the crowd to "Cheer."


"Not everyone gets the name," said the emperor, otherwise known as Bart Defrancia, the drama teacher. "They think it must be Latin."


The Pinelands Greco-Roman Club and the history teachers created the annual Roman Festival. Admission was $2 unless you wore a toga. Then it was free.


If you wanted to compliment someone you could say "Toga tua bona est" ("Your toga is nice.") or "Ubi illas soleas emis ("Where did you get those shoes?") or "Quid Romana puella in hac arena facit?" ("What's a nice Roman like you doing in place like this?").


Uncomplimentary phrases taught to the crowd included "Toga two suspina est" ("Your toga is on backward.") or "Toga mea escere" ("Eat my shorts.").


Social studies teacher Matt Maleski said it was almost a show in itself getting ready for the event and hauling in the props.


There were last minute costume problems. Derek Klingel, 13, of New Gretna, said he had to wear his toga after all even though he was in the games. His mom, Carol Klingel, went out to the car and soon produced a toga.


"This was a lot less work than the Greek Festival," she said. "They sent home quite a few patterns for different types of togas Romans wore depending on their jobs. Different colors meant different things. I learned a lot."


Jake Bolton, 13, was wearing purple as a member of the royal family.


"This is just a blanket from home," he said of his toga with silver embroidery on the edge. "This is some jewelry we had and this is a a bed sheet."


Even the custodian, Jose Pagan, dressed for the occasion, wearing a short yellow toga and laurel leaves in addition to shorts, shirt, socks and athletic shoes.


The annual Roman Festival featured chariot races and the stars of the Circus Maximus (the gym): pupils Nick Livio, Christian Chasmer, Brian Harder and George Carey. The teachers played the horses, pulling each chariot in hotly contested races. During the chariot races, the crowd called out "Celerius! Celerius!", which means "Faster! Faster!" and "Ite! Ite!", which means "Go! Go!" There was a lot of cheating: the touching of chariot wheels that looked like the horses were doing it on purpose, flogging of opponents with short pieces of fabric from time to time, a horse who lost his white slip-on shoes and a chariot overturning against a wall requiring one competitor to be dragged off the course during a race.


Then came the Championships of Roman Ball, an authentic Roman game played by the finest athletes, and field hockey -- Yes! Field hockey! -- another Roman favorite played by Pinelands best.


The Caesar Augustus Competition of Knowledge starred Alyssa Florio, 14, last year's Caesar Augustus, asking questions of Kelsey Brower, Erin Eastburn and Melissa Boldridge, who filled in for Jeff Sledden, who was ill.


Then came the best of the best, the Gladitorial Games to shouts of "Verberate!" ("Thrash him!"), 'Iugula" ("Get him!") and "Hoc habet!" (He's had it!").


"It's fun," said Hayley Valencia, 12, who moved to Little Egg Harbor from up north last August. "That's why I join most of the activities."


At the end of the festival, the even heftier Emperor Gluteas Maximus, who had munched throughout, was born away by his litter bearers.


Times Beacon Newspapers, 345 East Bay Ave., Manahawkin, NJ 08050


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Three hearty cheers for Pittsgrove

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We've got so used to news of closing Latin departments that this item is a real shot in the arm. I draw your attention particularly to the last paragraph - heart-warming or what?:


PittsgroveTwp. school district to introduce Latin to students

Thursday, February 10, 2005

By PHILIP SEAN CURRAN, Staff Writer


PITTSGROVE TWP. -- Fifth- and sixth-graders will be required to take Latin starting next school year. By introducing Latin the district hopes to beef up its language arts and world language programs. Officials see Latin as a tool to help students with their syntax and other communication skills. The Latin program will be offered a portion of the year for both grades.


Sixth-graders will also be required to take Spanish, meaning they get two languages. Seventh- and eighth-graders will have Spanish.


School officials began thinking last fall about introducing Latin. At the moment, the district is taking steps to put the program together. A teacher has not been hired yet. Nor has a text book been selected, said Nancy Ward, director of curriculum and instruction for the district.


Latin is common in high school classrooms. Arthur P. Schalick High School has had Latin for around five years, although there is no Latin teacher on the faculty. Students who study the language participate in a distance-learning program with Cumberland Regional High School. Two of them, Matt Wildman and Amanda Mazzoni, said it's helped them in science classes and on the college entrance exam.


"It's a lot harder than the English language," said Mazzoni, 17, a junior. "Once you're captivated by the language, you'll be motivated to take it farther in your life."


Officials said they are confident the middle school is up to the task. "The key to this will be the right teacher," said Loren Thomas, superintendent of schools.


The district wanted to make the language available for all pupils. "We don't want it to be an elitist thing," Thomas said.


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Making it happen in the UK?

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Brian Bishop (see previous Newsletters and Blog passim, as Private Eye might say), has been giving some thought to priorities as we try to reverse the decline in Latin teaching here. This is his suggestion of what should be done, in order of priority.


Objective: Increase Latin teaching in schools and universities.

Methods:

(a) Recruit parent power - target parents and governors.

(b) Raise its profile in the curriculum - target Government departments, M.P.s, the Q.C.A. and O.C.R.

(c) Recruit teachers - target training colleges.

Objective: Introduce Modern Language teaching methods.

Method: Persuasion, targeting Training colleges, professional journals, college heads and teachers.

Objective: Latin as an international language.

Method: Persuasion, targeting the European Union, UNESCO, and teachers.

If we stay with the first objective for the moment, I believe Brian is on to something when he suggests parent power as our first target. I'd love to hear from you how you present the Classics to parents in your own school, and how you think we can mobilise parent power where Latin is not at present taught. By all means contribute other ideas for promoting Latin. I thought it might be helpful to focus on one area first. Nothing will happen without you - the ARLT Committee can't do it on its own.


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Re-presenting Greek drama - three American productions:

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The excellent Sunday roundup of historical and archaeological news, Explorator, mentioned three productions of Greek drama that each take the original as a basis for a contemporary piece of theatre. The first does for Homer and Euripides something like what the Royal Shakespeare Company did for the Shakespeare history plays; the second has a new and strange way of presenting Medea, and the third makes a opera of what Aristophanes should have written! Not ideal for A level students to see as part of their syllabus, perhaps, but could be interesting as demonstrating the life and power that the 5th century plays still have.


1. The Women of Troy

http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2005/02/24/63414

If the prologue from "The Iliad" were combined with two tragedies by Euripides and set to original music, the result could be "Desperate Housewives" in a fifth century B.C. prisoner-of-war camp. "The Women of Troy," a new production of the Frank Theatre [Minneapolis], combines these elements with poise and vigor. Wendy Knox, the theater's creative director said, "It's as if we read, twisted and adapted the plays, put them in the blender and pressed 'liquefy.' The result is an original piece."


The result is also a timely commentary on the cruelty of war, supplemented with a tale of female strength, solidarity and vengeance. The amalgamation of "The Iliad," "Hecuba" and "The Trojan Women" follows the story of the royal women of Troy after their city is ransacked by the Greeks.


2. Medea:

http://u.presstelegram.com/Stories/0,1413,218~24216~2728078,00.html

The California Repertory Company presents a spectacular production of this demanding material in the true spirit of Greek tragedy. Following the visionary concept of guest director David Bridel, this bitter tale is told from an ancient tomb long after all the characters have died.


When the drama begins, the actors rise one by one from their graves by climbing out of the floor of Danila Korogodsky's haunting set. Shrouded in Lauren Hea-Seung Kim's burial costumes with Barbara Matthews' ghoulish makeup, they are further dramatized by George Cybulski's piercing light design.


3. Lysistrata (the opera)

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/ae/music/classical/3056248

The memory was delicious: Women withholding sex to end a war. Surely, thought composer Mark Adamo, an opera lurked in that idea.


Fresh from the success of Little Women, which Houston Grand Opera premiered in 1998, he was looking for new material. But when he returned to Lysistrata, the Aristophanes play that premiered in 414 B.C., he found his memory richer than reality. ... He decided to "write the play I think we remember — not the play Aristophanes actually wrote — and make an opera of that." Thus, Lysistrata, or the Nude Goddess, HGO's 33rd world premiere, finally opens the Wortham Theater Center's Cullen Theater on Friday.


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Vale

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Yes, I know that many people read this (or receive it anyway!), but I usually imagine I'm writing to one person, so 'vale' seems appropriate. Do come back with ideas, comments, corrections or expostulations. Meanwhile, I wish you well.


David