Get Latin into your local rag

Regular readers of this blog (if any) will be familiar with my repeated cry “Get Latin into your local paper.” Here’s another example from the USA. It’s not earth-shattering news, but it still got published. British schools please copy.

Phoenixville News

Sixth graders at Kimberton Waldorf School are learning about barbarians, patricians and plebians, soldiers and caesars as part of their in-depth study of Rome and Roman culture. As part of their lessons this semester, students presented projects reflecting many aspects of Roman culture.

“The students built models of ships from balsa wood, re-created aqueducts from sugar cubes, made scale models of Roman houses, and sewed doll-size Roman theatre costumes and traditional Roman garb for themselves to wear,” explained Carmen Maciarello, sixth grade teacher.

Through the study of Latin, and the legends and history of Rome, students can begin to see the ways in which our Greco-Roman roots affect us in the present. Our modern society reflects Roman qualities in civil justice, and in civil engineering — roads, aqueducts, sewage systems, heating, and much of the English language are based on Roman models.

Kimberton Waldorf School provides students with extensive opportunities to learn about various cultures through a block system that integrates all of the subjects in an experiential way. This method of learning helps to pull ideas out rather than stuffing information into the children.

Kimberton Waldorf School was founded in 1941, and is the second oldest Waldorf school in the United States. The campus includes 425 acres of woods, creek, farm, orchard and garden. The program serves children from pre-school through 12th grade.


Seniors teach Latin to juniors

We’ve had a news report like this quite recently, I think.

Eagle Tribune

High-schoolers make Latin possible for younger students High-schoolers teach language to younger students who lost it to budget cuts

By Paul Tennant

Keeping Latin alive

Haverhill High students volunteer as teachers.

Students in grades 7 and 8 learn the ancient language.

They meet once a week.

HAVERHILL — The words look familiar, sort of.

Agricola means farmer. Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, the business of farmers is agriculture.

Aqua is water. Of course. If we like to swim, we enjoy engaging in an aquatic activity.

Then there’s natura for nature, naturally.

These and several other words are part of the vocabulary the seventh- and eighth-graders in the Latin Club at Whittier Middle School are learning. About a couple of dozen of them get together every Wednesday afternoon to study what some people call a “dead language.”

Their teachers are six Haverhill High students enrolled in their school’s Classical Academy. Many of the high-schoolers have studied Latin for four years and classical Greek for three. Recently, students and teachers were hard at work getting ready for a quiz.

Max Shultz, an eighth-grader, said he likes learning another language.

“I think it’s fascinating,” said Massimo Magliocchetti, another eighth-grader. Both Shultz and Magliocchetti said they hope to enroll in the Classical Academy when they start high school next year.

Colleen Hayes, a senior who is in the Classical Academy, is the one who started this program. She and other members of the National Honor Society are teaching the middle-schoolers as a community service project.

Colleen said while Latin used to be taught in the middle schools along with other languages, that’s no longer the case, due to budget cuts. She thought it was unfortunate that middle school students did not have the opportunity to be exposed to the tongue that is the basis of the Romance languages — Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian — and has heavily influenced English.

“A lot of kids just don’t know about it,” she said.

She said she and the other high school students working with her are eager to share their knowledge of Latin with younger students.

Colleen has studied Latin for four years and classical Greek for three. Her ambition, however, is not to teach languages, but to become a lawyer.

Should she pursue a career as a language educator, however, Colleen will undoubtedly achieve success.

“Colleen is a very good instructor,” said Natalie Macdonald, a seventh-grader. “I think it’s important to learn other languages besides the one we speak every day.”

Pat Lawlor, one of the instructors from the high school, said it’s important to expose younger students to the classics — and the languages in which they’re written.

Katie Gibbs, a high school senior, emphasized the value a knowledge of Latin offers when one studies another language.

“It helps me so much in Spanish,” she said.

The other instructors from the high school are Michael Schetrompf, Josh Butterworth and Alex Pigeon.

Deborah Sasso-Flanagan, curriculum supervisor for foreign languages and social studies in grades six through 12, said she would like to see the pilot program at the Whittier Middle School expanded to the other middle schools next year.

“They never miss a week,” she said of the middle-schoolers in the Latin Club and their young teachers.

Yet another reason for the D and F of the R E

This time it’s drought. There have been so many reasons put forward that if they are all true it’s a wonder the poor Romans survived as long as they did.

Economic Times India Times

WASHINGTON: New clues unearthed by geologists suggest that a drought may have lead to the decline of the Roman civilization more than a millennium ago.

According to a report in Discovery News, the researchers used a new technique to figure out exactly how much rain fell in the Eastern Mediterranean between about 1,000 and 2,000 years ago.

Using a tool called an ion microprobe, the researchers were able to look at single layers of stalactite that were just 1/100th of a millimeter thick – 100 times thinner than what scientists can analyze with standard techniques.

Like a tree’s growth rings, stalactites grow in layers from the top of a cave downward. In each layer, a preserved chemical signature called the oxygen isotope ratio reveals whether a particular period was especially wet or dry.

Orland and University of Wisconsin geologist John Valley used a new generation ion microprobe to analyze a stalactite sample form Israel’s Soreq Cave, one of the best-studied caves in the world.

Compared to standard methods, the new technique revealed four times as much variability in rainfall during the period covered by the sample – from 2,200 to 900 years ago. In some stretches, the scientists were able to pinpoint what the region’s weather was like from one week to the next, by far the most detailed climate history ever produced.

The results showed a gradual drying between about 100 and 700 A.D., with sharp drops in rainfall at 100 AD and 400 AD.

Overall, annual rainfall fell 50 percent during those centuries, dropping from an average of more than 3 feet per year to 1.6 feet.

During the same period, Roman rule declined in the area. This is the first study to link the two events.

“Such a large change in rainfall may have played an important part in the historical events that took place in that region at that time,” said Ian Orland, a Ph.D. candidate in geology at the University of Wisconsin, who co-led the study.

The drastic change in climate would have had a profound effect on the people living in the region, the researchers speculate.

As their crops suffered, the Romans probably began to struggle until finally succumbing to the growing Islamic empire at the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 AD.

Future work will attempt to confirm these results with other samples and look for similar data in other regions.

DNA links Welshman to Roman soldiers.

I wonder how many more of us have DNA links with the Roman invaders? The video doesn’t detail how the DNA of ancient Roman soldiers was obtained for comparison, but I suppose the scientists are sure about it.

Video from the BBC

Dennis Cleeton from Llandrindod Wells, Powys has spent 20 years tracking his ancestors back to the 16th Century – then a chance request to take a DNA test took him back even further to the invading Roman armies.

Hansard: the question of Latin

I used the words ‘if this report is accurate’ in relaying what the Telegraph wrote. I have just looked up Hansard for confirmation:

25 Nov 2008 : Column 1346

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): My Lords, Latin is an important subject. It is valuable in supporting pupils’ learning of modern languages and can provide a useful basis for students’ study across a range of disciplines. It is for schools to decide whether it should be included in their curriculum. The number of non-selective state schools offering Latin has more than doubled since the launch in 2000 of the Cambridge Latin resource, for which the Government provided £5 million of funding.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. I am pleased that she shares my view on the importance of Latin as a way of understanding virtually all Romance languages, particularly English. That being so, is she not disappointed that 85 per cent of state schools still offer no Latin at all? Is she not concerned that each year 35 new Latin teachers are trained but more than 60 leave the profession? Is it not time that Latin was reclassified as an official curriculum language and given the same encouragement as other languages?

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his question. He is correct that the number of Latin teachers in training is around that number. Indeed, it has been approximately 35 to 40 for the past 10 years and it is obviously worrying if a number of teachers retire or move out of the field. However, the Languages Diploma Development Partnership is considering the place of Latin within the languages diploma. Beginning in January, there will be a consultation about that, in which my noble friend may be interested in being involved.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, will the Minister ensure that the new careers services advise students that Latin has a wide application to future careers, not just in the classics and the modern languages based on Latin but also in the sciences, in particular biology? A biologist cannot manage without a good knowledge of Latin. Will she ensure that, even if an individual school cannot offer Latin to a student, Latin can at least be part of a local authority-wide curriculum offer and thus be made available to that young person?

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, I am not sure that I can ensure it in the way that the noble Baroness suggests but I will certainly think about her comments and take them back to the department. We recently introduced a new form of qualification for modern languages called the language ladder, which I am advised is used for a range of languages from Welsh and Gaelic through to other modern languages and which emphasises the value of teaching, listening, speaking and writing. So we are thinking carefully how languages are promoted in our schools.

The BBC has good coverage:

A decline in the number of Latin teachers poses a serious threat to the teaching of the language in schools, peers have been told.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester said he was concerned the number of Latin teachers leaving the profession each year was far outnumbering those being trained.

He urged the government to give Latin the same priority in the curriculum as modern languages to reverse this trend.

Ministers said modern languages were their priority at primary school level.

Important subject

For every 35-40 new Latin teachers entering the profession every year, more than 60 were either retiring or opting to do something else, Labour peer Lord Faulkner said in the House of Lords.

He also expressed dismay about the 85% of state schools he said did not currently teach Latin at all.

“Isn’t it time that Latin was reclassified as an official curriculum language and given the same encouragement as other languages?” he told peers.

Where individual schools could not offer Latin, ministers should urge local education authorities to include the subject somewhere on their curriculum.

For the government, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin said Latin was an “important subject” and a valuable tool in helping people learn a broad range of other languages.

She said it was “worrying” if a growing number of teachers were exiting the profession, for whatever reason, every year.

The number of non-selective state schools offering Latin had doubled since 2000, she said, while there would be a consultation on Latin’s inclusion in the languages diploma next year

But she stressed: “It is for schools to decide whether it should be included in the curriculum.”

Figures published earlier this year showed the number of non-selective state secondary schools in England teaching Latin rose from 200 in 2000 to 471 last year.

But education specialists have expressed concerns that the rise in pupils learning the language is limited to Key Stage 3 pupils aged 12-14 and is not mirrored at GCSE and A-level.

There are also concerns about a continuing shortage in the number of postgraduate teaching colleges offering Latin courses.

“Latin is set to be returned to the school curriculum”

If this report is accurate it is really good news for Latin teaching. The worrying figures are of the extremely low numbers of Latin teachers being trained. This seems to be because of deliberate government policy in the past. If hoi en telei are beginning to see the light, then perhaps more centres than just Cambridge and London may be allowed to train Classics specialists. Have I not heard, for example, that Oxford used to have a Classics Faculty? As a Cambridge man I can’t be sure …

But to be serious, unless something drastic is done very quickly we shall not have enough teachers for a renewed demand in state schools – indeed, we don’t have enough as it is.

Perhaps as a temporary measure we can mobilise the equivalent of the Chinese barefoot doctors, people who have enough training to do the job, though lacking full qualifications.

Daily Telegraph

Latin is set to be returned to the school curriculum following an official review.

By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
Last Updated: 9:05AM GMT 27 Dec 2008

Ministers believe it is an “important subject” and may help school pupils to learn modern languages.

Less than 15 per cent of state schools teach Latin and the number of qualified teachers is falling.

However, the Department for Education is understood to be considering adding Latin to the new Languages diploma, which will run alongside GCSEs and A-levels from next year. Baroness Morgan, the schools minister, has indicated that the Government wishes to see Latin regain its status as an important language.

She said it was “an important subject and valuable for supporting pupils’ learning of modern languages”. She added that the Language Diploma Development Partnership was “considering the place of Latin”.

Well-placed sources said that the language was expected to be reinstated as an official curriculum language next year.

Baroness Morgan made the comments in response to calls from another Labour peer, Lord Faulkner of Worcester who said it helped students to learn other languages.

“Each year, 35 new Latin teachers are trained but over 60 are leaving the profession,” he said. “Isn’t it time that Latin was reclassified as an official curriculum language and was given the same encouragement as other languages?” Over the past 20 years, the teaching of Latin has rapidly declined in state schools and classicists have predicted that it could disappear altogether in the next decade.

In 1988, 16,023 students were entered for GCSE, with 53 per cent from state schools. However, since 2000 only about 10,000 pupils annually have entered for GCSE Latin, with only 37 per cent from the state sector.

Lady Morgan said that the number of younger children studying Latin had already risen sharply over the past decade following Government investment in computer software and other teaching tools.

There are only two teacher-training courses in Latin, at Cambridge University and King’s College London. Therefore, the number of Latin teachers is falling rapidly as staff retire.

Bob Lister, a lecturer in classics education at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC: “Unless someone at a senior level comes up with serious ways of supporting Latin I fear that within the next generation it will pretty much disappear.”

He added: “We don’t want to be seen to be dumbing down the classics but for an average school student who doesn’t start to learn Latin until they are 13, GCSE Latin is extremely hard work.”

Meanwhile, peers have also asked to be given access to Latin lessons in the House of Lords. Baroness O’Cathain, a Conservative peer, asked for Latin courses to be added a list of 10 modern languages on offer to peers.

More than 100 Roman coins found in a Petworth field.

Chichester Observer

An important discovery of more than 100 Roman coins has left archaeologists wondering whether Petworth has more to do with the Romans than first thought.
The 103 coins, which equate to a third of a year’s wages for a Roman soldier, were found on farmland in the area on November 24.

Experts have previously believed Petworth to have been little affected by the Romans, but the discovery of the silver coins could mean there were wealthy people living there.

The coins date from the third and second century BC to the Hadrian period of 132 to 148AD.

Sussex Archaeological Society finds liaison officer Laura Burnett said: “There is a reasonable amount of money – it is not what your average person had.

“It definitely shows there were people with some money in that area, it was not just a charcoal burner.

“It is always very exciting finding things. What is really interesting is thinking that this area we thought was quiet, is suddenly becoming more important.

“We will need to do more investigating to see whether there are any signs of habitation, to see if there is any evidence of roads, or farm remains.

“If each of the coins weighs three to four grams, we are looking at more than 300 grams worth of silver.”

Kirdford resident Malcolm Douglas made the find just a after a year after he first began searching the fields of Keyfox farm.

The 43-year-old said: “It is nice to find a hoard, but it makes you wonder – the last person to see those coins was the person who buried them. That’s nearly 2,000 years ago.

“It would have been nice to meet him, to find out why he buried them and to find out if he buried any more.

“It felt like I had just found a pot of gold – it was overwhelming. If you look at a rough statistic, 99 per cent of detectors never find a hoard of anything.”

The coins were found buried several inches beneath the soil with a piece of Roman pottery. Miss Burnett has several theories about why they could have been left there.

“They buried them to keep them safe because there were no banks,” she said.

“People may have buried them if there was a farm nearby. Rather than leave the horde in the house where people would look for it, they would bury it outside.

“If you were travelling through the woods carrying it on you, rather than take it with you to an inn you would bury it outside.

“Sometimes it is long-term and sometimes short-term.”

Chichester museum archaeology officer Jayne Stewart said: “We have shown interest in acquiring this treasure case as it is a very significant find for the area and for our Roman collection.

“The hoard from Petworth will make a great addition to our collections.”

A valuation of the collection will be made within the next couple of months.

* Miss Burnett will be doing a valuation of archaeological artefacts on January 24 at Chichester museum, Little London from 10am until 1pm.