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.