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Robert Winner


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Reboot education with the return of Latin.

I often preach that if you can speak the language of the subject you will do well. In math if you can identify and name the parts, their functions, and understand all of the abbreviations then you can most likely solve the problem.

So I am a great believer in vocabulary. Each time I read the papers of the founding fathers I am impressed with their grasp of the language. I believe that the requirement of Latin in their basic education was a great contributor to this. In the US we had Latin offered until the mid 60s in my school and then it went away. Latin was great for deriving the root word and gave you a better picture in defining the term.

So here is the debate: Would the return of Latin have a positave impact on todays students and provide a better understanding of subjects such as math, science, english, and in fact most subjects.


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    Feb 10 2013: I would contradict the majority of the comments here and say that I wouldn't want Latin being taught.
    We're already at a point where we have almost no practical formal earlier education that is relevant to life.

    Maths almost immediately leaves the realm of practical number solving, English class spends little time on gammar and articulation, Nothing about running a business is learnt in business studies and the majority of College and University students are taking studies that have no connection to any possible career path or provide any actual skill.

    What we need is feasible education where, even if the student doesn't move into higher education, then we can atleast be sure that they can function in society. Adding a dead language to the equation isn't reform, its just piling on additional junk to an already junk-filled system.
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      Feb 11 2013: Xavier, I see you are from England. When I was there the schools still had Latin. Did you take it as a student? I understand Linda's comments as she took the class. For many of us the class provided much needed insight and skills that have lasted years after the class.

      Are your comments about general education based on the system used in public or private British schools. You appear to unhappy with math, science, business, and English specifically. Are you a recent graduate?

      Can you think of any situation that Latin would have helped you or spoke to anyone who took the course?

      I may be wrong but I feel you are dismissing the course without foundation. Would you agree that it could be offered as a elective for those who see a benefit?

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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        Feb 18 2013: Between high school and college in the US, I took 5 years of Latin. The experience has helped me appreciate language in a different way, but it didn't greatly aid my education, either. In most Latin classrooms, for example, the language is only read or translated, but rarely produced. This was actually a huge detriment to me and fellow students when trying to learn other languages later (for example, French), because I could read them easily but not speak them to others without tremendous effort. I had to break through my Latin approach to language, in essence, and that took awhile.

        I have to agree with Xavier that Latin isn't exactly practical. With limited classroom hours, it's not an essential in our schools. In the US where many public schools are struggling, particularly those in poverty- and crime-stricken neighborhoods, many of which are underfunded, Latin would be a ridiculous solution to a much greater problem. However, I do believe its study can be enriching, and I would advocate offering it as an elective for this purpose. After all, a good education doesn't just teach you the facts and figures, or how to get by. A good education should (in an ideal world) open one's mind and tempt one's curiosity.
    • Feb 12 2013: If you will excuse me for saying so, I think Latin helped me with precisely those things, of grammar and articulation - sentence forming, word order, sense and meaning. Also, with all the juggling of word order required, it felt like maths at some points!
      For example, Latin is so neat - I have just used the phrase 'word order' twice. I believe (it is many many years since I touched my Latin!), but by altering the endings and positions of words, they often don't have to be repeated, just referred to.
      It takes a lot of labour to master all the endings and when to use them, but I found it really improved my grasp of accurate understanding, or true comprehension of someone's meaning...or, indeed, in poetic prose, double possible meaning.
      So it has been useful in life, in understanding how to better communicate.

      I would entirely agree, though, that compulsory Latin is not a good idea.

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