GCSE coursework 'could be abolished'

Those who responded to the call for views on coursework will be interested in this Press Association report, which I saw in The Guardian:

Press Association
Friday March 31, 2006

Coursework could become a thing of the past for GCSE students in many subjects, the government's exams watchdog said.

Ken Boston, the chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, said coursework would remain in place only where it was the most reliable way of ranking pupils.

In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement, he said: “In many areas of the curriculum, coursework is the only and the best way to assess. But in others it is not.”

He did not rule out abolishing coursework for subjects including English literature, although it was thought that maths GCSE would be more likely to revert to an exam-only qualification.

Last year, the education secretary, Ruth Kelly, ordered a review of the coursework content for GCSEs after the QCA warned that cheating and internet plagiarism were on the rise.

The QCA will launch a series of consultations on the future of coursework in GCSE subjects.

Vermont Latin teacher – latest

Apparently the teacher suspended for using Pompeii graffiti is back at work. Rogue Classicism reproduces an article from the Times Argus.

When I emailed the school principal he wrote back, briefly, in Latin: Non possum respondere hoc tempore.

Hear Boris Johnson on What the Romans did for us

I haven't managed the technology yet, but The Times offers a podcast of Boris Johnson's talk to the Oxford Literary Festival here.

Septimius Severus is today's ODNB biography

For the next week the entries for Septimius Severus and Caracalla from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography are accessible here.

The reason that a Roman emperor features in this national dictionary is clear from the first sentence:

Septimius Severus, Lucius (145/6–211), Roman emperor, was the founder of the Severan dynasty and passed his last four years in Britain directing military operations against peoples beyond the northern frontier of the Roman province.

Caracalla is a name I know chiefly because of the magnificent Baths of Caracalla in Rome. A huge church has been made from just one part of the baths. His influence on Britain was, however, considerable:

Caracalla may have completed the campaign his father had planned for 211, while an inscription set over the east gate at Carpow seems to belong to the period when he was ruling alone. The division of Britain into two separate provinces, which Severus may have decided upon in 197, was now carried into effect, with the larger Upper Britain (Britannia Superior) in the south under a consular governor with two legions and in the north the smaller Lower Britain (Britannia Inferior) containing the remaining legion based at Eboracum. In the event, Caracalla's settlement proved lasting. The reconstruction of Hadrian's Wall defined permanently the northern limit of the Roman province, though effective control extended further north to roughly the line of the later England–Scotland border.

An unforeseen need

Radio 5 Live is now discussing the need for linguists in this age of terrorism. A reporter noted that the British universities have been diverted from their traditional functions, and that we are now realising how the nation needs what they used to provide. He pointed out that during the Second World War many of the code-breakers were Classics graduates.

New books from OUP

The latest list has arrived from Oxford. I like the look of a book on Cretan women by Rebecca Armstrong, dealing with Pasiphae, Ariadne, and Phaedra in Latin Poetry, but it costs £55, so I shan't be putting it on my Christmas list.

Another general history of Rome has been published by these authors:

Mary T. Boatwright, Professor of Ancient History, Department of Classical Studies, Duke University, Daniel J. Gargola, Associate Professor of History, University of Kentucky, Lexington, and Richard J. A. Talbert, Kenan Professor of History and Classics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The publicity says that the book is “a new and shorter version of the authors' The Romans: From Village to Empire” suitable for undergraduate students. The details are:

Price: £19.99 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-19-518715-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-19-518715-1

Perhaps it shows my age, but I am not attracted by books with titles such as Figuring Genre in Roman Satire. Roman satire, yes please. But what does the rest of the title mean? At £29.99 I think I'll leave it for now, thanks.

More promising is 69 A.D. The Year of Four Emperors by Gwyn Morgan, which OUP call

A powerful account of one of the most tumultuous periods in Roman history

It costs £17.99 for a hardback of 336 pages, which seems very reasonable. OUP quotes Peter Jones writing in the Literary Review:

“there will be much here for historians to chew, and fight, over”

Well, those are my personal reactions to titles and blurbs. I haven't read the books, but thought I'd let you know of their existence.

Latin tutors, unite – and advertise?

A Latin tutor has suggested to me that the ARLT site could add another useful service, a directory of Latin tutors.

I know that there are people up and down the country looking for Latin tuition, and I am finding out that there are people willing to turn an honest penny by teaching, so a directory sounds a good idea.

Some people are already using the ARLT Notice Board to make contacts. Are there others out there who would be interested in having their contact details published?

Cambridge Classics Project have their on-line tuition, with training for would-be tutors, so there is some quality control there. A page on the ARLT site would be just a list of those offering their services.

Your comments will be appreciated.