It's a tour of Rome next summer, designed for teachers of Ecce Romani. Be warned that it is priced for American teachers at $2,400.
I reproduce one of the reports (it happens to be from The Times) of the new directive about how to teach reading.
One at least of my own children was taught with the Initial Teaching Alphabet (remember that?) which invented new letters so that children could read phonetically. My daughter survived that, and can spell with the best of them now, but it seemed at the time a daft idea.
I myself learned to read, as I have mentioned before, with my Grandmother using 'Reading Without Tears', utterly phonics-led. It was a sound basis for reading, and was made pleasurable by my Grandmother.
I learned Latin in a totally old-fashioned way, and enjoyed the process, partly from the satisfaction of simply getting things right, and partly because I liked my teacher.
The early stages of traditional Latin learning worked, and I have been thankful ever since for a solid foundation, where the pluperfect subjunctive passive holds no terrors because I can picture it on the right hand page of Kennedy's Shorter Latin Primer, in its logically-placed box.
It was later that there were longeurs in Latin lessons, caused by Caesar and Livy in small-format cramped editions with few or no pictures. But on the whole I wouldn't exchange my experiences for all the Cambridge or Oxford courses in the world.
Of course it was a different world then, but my own experience, together with the news of a swing back to traditional methods in teaching reading, makes me wonder whether the next great Latin course will take us back to some of the methods that worked for my generation, without, naturally, surrendering the flair, imagination and brilliant presentation of the courses at present in vogue.
Anyway, here's the news:
A defeat for 'trendy Wendy' teachers
Education Editor's Briefing by Tony Halpin
ARGUMENTS about the best way to teach children to read are among the most bitter and divisive in education, to the utter bewilderment of most parents.
Jim Rose’s report marks the longest of U-turns back to orthodoxy. Phonics was established practice 40 years ago, but was swept away by advocates of “progressive” child-centred theories in the Sixties and Seventies.
Methods such as “real books” and “look and say” took hold, in which children were expected to work out the meaning of whole words from their “context” and their association with pictures. Critics dubbed it “look and guess”.
The shift coincided with the demise of the 11-plus examination, which removed external pressure on primary schools to maintain high standards. A generation of parents soon learnt that their offspring were not discovering how to read very well. James Callaghan, the Labour Prime Minister, highlighted the “unease felt by parents and others about the new informal methods of teaching” in his 1976 speech calling for a “great debate” on education.
Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives introduced the national curriculum and testing of pupils 12 years later. After a prolonged boycott by teaching unions, the first national tests of 11-year-olds in 1995 exposed massive levels of illiteracy, with more than half of pupils failing to reach the expected standard.
Traditionalists complained that teachers continued to emerge from training colleges steeped in failed “trendy Wendy” methods. Labour took office in 1997 promising to restore rigour through a national literacy hour in all schools, the first time any government had sought to tell teachers not only what to teach, but how to teach it.
Supporters of phonics, including Mr Rose, then director of inspection at Ofsted, pointed to a growing body of new research that confirmed its central role in helping children to make sense of the alphabet. But the Government’s desire to introduce reform quickly and without opposition from schools led to compromise over the content of the literacy strategy.
Instead of emphasising the importance of phonics, David Blunkett, the then Education Secretary, adopted a “searchlights” model that encouraged schools to select from different teaching methods, including “knowledge of context” and “word recognition”.
Mr Rose is obliquely scathing of the progressive dogmas that have failed so many, saying: “It cannot be left to chance, or for children to ferret out, on their own, how the alphabetic code works.”