The Association for Latin Teaching

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ARLT Summer School – Moreton Hall – Summer 2012 report

Given that my last experience at a Classical summer school was as an A-Level student many years ago, I did not really know what to expect from the ARLT experience.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed the five days and departed feeling greatly enthused and looking forward to the next ARLT event.

On arriving at Moreton Hall, the welcome from Robert Grant and Allison Caplan could not have been warmer.  Our first evening got off to a cracking start with some Roman wine tasting with the Wroxeter Vineyard. Some delicious local wines were perfect preparation for the competitive but jovial Classical Quiz.  The contest was closely fought but only one team could walk away with the spoils of a bottle of the Noble Roman!  It was the perfect introduction for a newcomer.

The only difficult moment for me that week was having to choose which of the fascinating option groups I would attend.  Despite some tough decisions, I was delighted with my selections.  Allison Caplan led an extremely enjoyable and productive session on “Adapting Texts for Classroom Drama”.  After reading a translation of Ovid’s Semele, we were split into groups and asked to prepare our very own productions of the story for a performance to the entire ARLT group (I clearly did not read the small print!).  Nevertheless, it is not every day you to get to pretend to be Jupiter.  

Steve Hunt’s “Sharing practice and creating resources for the CLC” was a brilliant option group to start with.  Designed to be a very open and interactive discussion forum, that is exactly what it was.  Everyone was very happy to share ideas, activities and discuss new aspects of the CLC. We were even given the chance to show off (or not) our art skills using CLC Book 3. Fiona Gow’s “A Historical Background to the Aeneid” was outstanding.  We looked at Book 6’s Pageant of Heroes and Fiona shared some excellent ideas for classroom activities. The final option group, Peter Geall’s “Brush Up Your Rusty Latin”, was a fantastic opportunity to put myself in the shoes of a pupil as we translated some love elegy and part of Apuleius’ Sagae Thessalae.

In addition, there was a fabulous selection of lectures over the five days.  Carrie Vout kicked off the proceedings with an excellent talk on “Why History Needs Art”.  Steve Killick and Mark Rivett led a brilliant storytelling workshop in which we worked on our own narrative skills before they gave us an awesome two-man performance of Oedipus. Tara Atkinson gave an insightful lecture on “Teaching and Learning in a mixed-ability context: Strategies and Benefits”.  Eleanor Dickey gave an outstanding talk on “Learning Latin as a foreign language during the Roman Empire”.  Rosie Wyles inspired us on “What to wear when entertaining the god – costumes and masks in the ancient theatre”.  Chris Pelling shared his expertise on Plutarch and Shakespeare with us.  Finally, with the Olympics looming, we were delighted to have Chris Cannon of the Wenlock Olympian Society come to speak to us about the origins of the Olympics.

Our final evening together included the much anticipated ARLT entertainment which was abundant in laughter and frivolity.  With fine performances of The Trojan Women, Gilbert & Sullivan recitals, Ovid’s Semele in the style of Jeremy Kyle and the Oki Koki and Old Macdonald sung in Latin, an extremely enjoyable evening was had by all.

The week ended with an excursion to Chester, a place I have always wanted to visit.  I much enjoyed the Grosvenor Museum before a Roman soldier led us all around town to see major landmarks, such as the amphitheatre. This was perfect preparation ahead of my expedition along Hadrian’s Wall the next day.  

From start to finish, the week was not only extremely useful but consistently enjoyable. The atmosphere was friendly and supportive and everyone seemed open to sharing ideas, resources and offer advice on new teaching methods. A few of us even enjoyed some Classical banter over a game of tennis on a sunny Shropshire evening!  I would like to thank the ARLT Committee and particularly, Robert Grant and Allison Caplan for their exceptionally hard work throughout.  I very much look forward to returning to another ARLT event.   

Matt Glendon-Doyle