Learn Latin in the park

Lorna has sent me this nice piece from the Oxford Times

Learn Latin in the park
By Fran Bardsley, Oxford Times
A TEACHER is on a mission to get people in the city learning Latin – and is taking to the parks to spread the message.

After setting up a number of successful projects to teach children in state schools, Dr Lorna Robinson, of Franklin Road, has decided to bring the language to adults as well.

She said: “A couple of years ago I set up a charity, The Iris Project, to promote classics in state schools.

“Since then, a lot of people have been contacting me asking if I run anything for adults and saying they would love to study Latin.”

Dr Robinson wants to start the ball rolling in April, with two groups, one based in South Park, and one in Bury Knowle Park, of up to 20 people.

She is keen to shatter the image of Latin as a language only accessible to people from wealthy, privileged backgrounds.

Each 45-minute class, to be held at lunchtimes, will cost £1 to cover material costs.

She said: “I was walking through the park recently and it struck me it might be a really nice idea for people in their lunchtimes over spring and summer to bring their sandwiches to the park to learn some Latin and Roman culture.

“I want it to be affordable and in a really nice context and hopefully it will be really fun.”

Dr Robinson has been running classes at Cheney School, East Oxford Primary School and St Joseph's Primary School and said it had been very popular – with pupils now taking GCSEs and A-Levels in the subject.

She said: “I think Latin is really useful. I've seen how much it helps children with literacy because our language is based on Latin and it helps with really basic things.

“People have said they want to learn Latin because they don't have very strong English and I think it also helps with understanding aspects of our culture today.”

As well as learning the language itself, people will find out about the culture of Ancient Rome and how it has influenced modern society.

She said: “Latin has become something only people who are very educated get a chance to do or people who went to posh schools. I want to show that anyone can pick it up.”

Anyone interested in learning Latin can contact Dr Robinson by logging on to http://www.irismagazine.org

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  1. This is exellent work. How right Lorna is in saying that Latin is not for the intelligentsia or the rich.
    However, how wrong she is in saying that English is based on Latin. English has a Germanic grammar with certain undertones of Celtic. It is often argued that it is a good thing to learn Latin because it teaches grammatical concepts: this is not a unique selling point of Latin. Why go to all the bother of learning a separate language in order to learn the grammar of one's own language? Mind you, if this myth continues to attract customers, I do not wish to knock it outside the Association.
    Moreover, in referring to the merits of learning about the Ancient world, she omits to refer to the merits of learning about subsequent centuries through Latin — not least Mediaeval and Renaissance. She fails to praise our Islands' great writers, such as Bede, Thomas More and George Buchanan who influenced the use of the whole culture and history of Europe. She omits the use of Latin today.
    The unique selling point of Latin is that it is the key to our culture over two and a half millennia and over the whole continent of Europe.

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