Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I finished it months ago, really...

After a long break, I finally picked up The Fountainhead again. This time it sucked me in and I read incessantly, tumbling through the words like Alice down the rabbit's hole. Ayn Rand always keeps me guessing and I can never predict where she's going with things. Well, that's not completely true. I always know that she's going the way of the individual, in radical defiance of community and altruism. But as far as the plot goes... it's anyone's guess.

After struggling through the first 100 pages, I found the following 450 or so quite intriguing - compelling, really. And I finished it. Check that off my list. I finished it months ago, really.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Rome Alive

Lately I've been reading Rome Alive by Peter J. Aicher. It claims to be "a source-guide to the ancient city," but its benefits go well beyond researching a visit to Rome. The book consists of two volumes. Volume I is the guide and includes maps, summaries, and English translations of the Latin and Greek sources for most of the ancient Roman monuments. Volume II includes the same maps as the first volume, and provides the original language text for the sources quoted in the first book.

As I said before, this book is beneficial not only for the traveler, but for others as well. I would recommend Rome Alive to anyone who teaches Latin (even Greek) or ancient Roman history. The supplementary volume II is an excellent resource for teachers who want to give their students the opportunity to dig out facts and do simplified research from the original language. Aicher's writing style is easy to read and gives the reader such clear and interesting information that it is hard to put the book down! The more I read, the more I wanted to continue. His source translations are also beautifully rendered, consistent with the tone and intention of each author.

Rome Alive begins with an overview map, which highlights the areas covered by the smaller maps throughout the book. This overview map is helpful for visualizing Rome and its major divisions. It is according to these divisions that Aicher divides his book into chapters. Each chapter opens with a numbered map encompassing the monuments to be discussed within, and the sources are numbered in correspondence to the numbered location on the map. Aicher not only explains the locations of the ancient sites in relation to each other, but also in relation to what stands in Rome today, both on the maps and in his summaries. Additional maps are provided as needed throughout the chapter, again numbered for easy reference to the source texts. Many of the maps in volume I are also duplicated in volume II. This facilitates reading by providing visual context for the explained monument.

Peter Aicher includes not only a plethora of maps and illustrations, but of photos of Rome as well. Each picture seems to have been carefully chosen and placed, for each adds to the reader's understanding as he progresses through the book. For a visitor to Rome, these pictures would leave no question in his mind as to whether he were indeed glimpsing the remains of what the ancient Romans described in the sources given. I personally appreciate Aicher's including clear pictures of the aqueducts' channels; despite all of the ancient description I'd read, I did not have a clear idea until seeing the included photo. After reading the sources, referencing the maps, and studying the pictures, I am amazed at how much deeper my understanding of the technology and architecture of Rome is.

As each new site is introduced, Peter Aicher begins with a summary of the information about the location. These summaries are short and easy to read, but give the reader a skeletal understanding of the site, which is fleshed out as the reader works his way through the sources. Aicher's summaries are true to the sources, and it is here that he addresses the socio-political issues that often impacted the inception or destruction of Roman buildings. It is in these summaries, also, that he addresses discrepancies in the sources.

The sources included in Rome Alive are the real reason I am so enthusiastic about this book. The real meat of the book is found in these. Aicher has sifted through mounds of primary sources and extracted just the right amount of the most pertinent information for each of the sites he covers. Because he references not only the author and work but also the line numbers for each source, it is not difficult to look up the complete source elsewhere for greater context of the excerpt. Aicher has translated the sources wonderfully, rendering them into easily read idiomatic English. An example of his careful translation can be seen in the rhyme of this excerpt from Suetonius' Nero (39.2):

Nero proved surprisingly tolerant towards those who made him the target of their witticisms and verse-lampoons. There were many of these in circulation, in Greek as well as in Latin. The following about the Golden House is one example:

Rome is now a private home,
It's time to emigrate -
Assuming other lands exist
When they finish this estate.

While the sources in volume I have been translated into English, I can't begin to express how easy it is to cross-reference them with their original language text using volume II. Because each source in volume I is numbered (according to the monument number on the maps) and the corresponding Latin or Greek source is given the same numbering in volume II, checking the original text is extremely simple. This is my favorite aspect of the set - and what makes these books such an amazing resource for teachers and students alike.

As a visitor's guide to Rome, some of the most valuable references Peter Aicher includes in Rome Alive are his translations of the monuments' inscriptions. When I visited Rome, I wished I knew what the monuments said. Later, when I had learned Latin, I tried to decipher the inscriptions but found the abbreviations difficult. Peter Aicher has included not only the text of the inscription (with the lengthened forms of the abbreviated words in parentheses), but the translations of the inscriptions as well. Understanding the inscriptions on the monuments makes viewing them more interesting and fulfilling. Having read the history of the monuments, understanding why they were built, and how they impacted the Romans' lives will make a visit to ancient Rome more memorable and substantial.

For anyone interested in learning about Rome or her language, I recommend Rome Alive. For anyone who teaches Latin or Roman history using primary sources, this book is a must-have.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

In Catilinam I

This website is a great reference when I begin teaching 9th grade prose.

I put the book down...

... which was something I couldn't do with Atlas Shrugged. Yet, 36 pages into The Fountainhead I was tired, put the book down, and fell asleep. That was a few days ago. I haven't been inspired to pick it up since. Is this a sign? Atlas Shrugged had me captivated at line 1. "Who is John Galt?" and I was hooked. As I sit writing right now, I can't even remember the name of the main character in The Fountainhead. I hope this isn't indicative of what I will find throughout the book. Here I am at page 36 and I must make it to page 694! It's not that the book isn't interesting - it's just not captivating. I should have known; when you begin with an author's masterpiece, all his other works will be inferior to that first.

I'll keep reading. Maybe the pages will fly like the last did. Maybe not. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Over the Memorial Day weekend I had the opportunity to read Ayn Rand's Anthem. It's a pretty short book, only 105 pgs. I can't say that I enjoyed it nearly as much as I did Atlas Shrugged. I did enjoy the imagery of Prometheus, though. In the book, the main character likens himself to Prometheus for bringing light to mankind. Both were punished for "helping" humanity. Unlike Prometheus, though, Anthem's character was not bound and tortured for eternity - instead he escapes into the Uncharted Forest, with the love of his life, and there sets out to free humanity from its bondage to altruism. Anthem parallels Atlas Shrugged at least in one way, though. In both, the brilliant of mankind are shunned or punished because they are not working to better the brotherhood of humanity or the less fortunate. They respond by removing themselves from society and building a better society based on self-interest alone. When you consider the fact that Rand comes out of communistic Russia, it makes sense that she would see "brotherhood" and "community" very negatively.

Next on my list of Rand's works to read is The Fountainhead. It's another long one, so I'm interested to see how that one compares to Atlas Shrugged.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Wish List

I would like to add this book to my wish list. I get all giddy and short of breath just thinking about reading it. It is A Natural History of Latin by Tore Janson. I know that I spent over $100 on books alone last month... But really, is reading such a horrible obsession? The next time Leif needs some drachenfutter, maybe, just maybe, he will remember reading this and bring me such a gift. =) I can hope, right? 256 pages (80 of which are vocabulary and expressions) - $27. CDB (Christian Book Distributers) has it for $22, hardcover.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Cur trepidi?

Why do we get nervous? Today we had our first elementary Latin vocabulary bee. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have been faithfully learning their vocabulary all year and today was they day they got to demonstrate that to their parents. Now, all year we have been quizzing and testing and chanting vocabulary. We have had class bees and have even had official class bees with prizes. So why, today, did they get nervous? Parents were there - but these were the same parents who have worked with them all year to learn vocabulary. The event didn't count on their grades, so that wasn't it... And why, when we are nervous, do we forget what we know so well on any other day? The kids did great. They had fun; they had wonderful attitudes when they missed a word and had to sit down. The students who worked to learn their words well during the year are the ones who did the best and won. Parents were happy to see their kids reciting individually in front of a group. But isn't nervousness a weird human reaction? Even I was nervous. And I all had to do was say "correct" or "incorrect" after reading the word. But a vocabulary bee is more than that for these kids. And it was more than that for me. This was a display for the parents of what I taught the kids this year. It was a reflection on what I spent months of my time doing. For the kids, this was the first time they'd had to stand in front of a group of adults and recite. They were scared! But they did it. And they did well. They had fun. And next year it won't be so scary.

I'm excited for these kids who are learning as 8 year olds to stand and speak confidently in front of a group. Our goal is to prepare kids to do whatever God has planned for them. It's not to make them into politicians, or writers, or teachers, or engineers - it is to help parents turn out well grounded children who are capable and open for whatever God chooses to do with them. As I heard my students express their fears at doing poorly in front of the parents, I was reminded of Moses, who, when God told him to speak said, "I can't, God - send someone else." And I was proud of my students for stepping out on that limb, even though they weren't sure it would hold. They are one step closer to being ready and willing for God's call, whatever it may be.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Wikipedia Pages on Latin, English, and Language

Here are some Wikipedia links on Latin, English, Anglo-Saxon... Hopefully these will prove useful as I think through my introductory lessons for next year. I want the students to be able to see the profound influence historical events have on the formation of language.

Dual number (not directly related to Latin, but adaptable given the declensions of duo and ambo)
Old English (and how it was influenced by Latin, etc, to become modern English)
Yogh (Interesting article on why night, cough, through all have different 'gh' sounds)
Eth (again, why 'th' is pronounced as it is)
Wynn (runic beginnings of our 'W')
Germanic and Latinate Equivalents (Excellent list of words and roots)
Latin Proverbs (use as quotes)

Home Sweet Home?

Deo volente, this could be the new home of Petra Academy. What an incredible opportunity and a beautiful location!

Sword Fights and Bread Baking

This week our school had its first annual Renaissance Fair for the secondary students. There were chess, sketching, and costume competitions, authentic Renaissance games, a great feast, and ... a sword fighting tournament.

It was this sword fighting that the boys were most excited over and the girls most dismayed. Our egalitarian culture dictates that men and women are equal, which means that the opportunities presented to one ought to be presented to the other as well. It was not a popular notion when the girls were not allowed to participate in the sword fighting.

Prior to the Renaissance Fair, some of the girls asked nicely why they couldn't participate, some demanded scriptural proof that females sword fighting is sin, and some even went so far as to draw up a petition to convince the administrator that they should be allowed to sword fight with the boys. The administrator stood firm, though, and other events were planned to occupy the girls' time while the boys were learning to fight. The girls helped decorate the lunchroom and then set off to prepare food for the next day's feast.

When the sword fights got underway the next day, the girls were completely unprepared for what they saw. The boys, though friends, went after eachother like enemies, fighting one-to-one. There was no mercy; it was one of those events where the testosterone was allowed, and even encouraged, to flow in full force. They had wooden shields, and foam-covered dowel swords. Even with the padded swords, the boys were vicious. The girls watched in amazement - that is not how they would have fought. This became one of the beautiful moments of the day - the girls began to really see how God wired men and women differently.

When God designed humans, he created two genders: male and female. He created them equal, but gave them different roles to fulfill, and so wired them to think in a way conducive to filling those roles. Men are protectors, leaders, and fighters, both physically and spiritually. Our culture, in its declaration of "equality," has stripped men of their masculinity to push them toward a more gender-neutral role. Satan has twisted the equality of respect and importance found in Scripture into an equality of role, so prevalent in our culture today. Culture says, "There is no difference between men and women." and our children have bought into that lie.

On Friday, the girls of Petra Academy were given the opportunity to clearly see the difference between men and women. One girl commented, upon leaving the tournament, "I would bake bread any day over doing that." There is a difference between men and women, and our children ought to be taught that. Boys should be taught to grow into MEN, real men, leaders, heros, protectors of faith and family, not into the emasculated men of the sitcoms. And women must understand the role of men and the importance it holds so that they do not usurp that role from the men.

In Bozeman, MT a corner of the cultural blindfold has been lifted from the students, simply by allowing men to be men. It is my prayer that the blindfold will keep coming off, and that these students will influence the next generation as they model their roles in their families - that these men will be MEN, and the women will be WOMEN, confident and strong in the roles God has given them, glorifying Him with their lives.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Texts for Prose I

These are the texts from Bolchazy-Carducci that would be needed for Latin Prose I in 9th grade. The first is Cicero's In Catalinam I. I have a Latin text only copy of this already. There is also a parsed version that would be very helpful as a teacher resource. Caesar's Invasion of Britain is also required for that year. This is a graded reader, not straight from De Bello Gallico.

And THIS is just a book I would like to have. More reading, fewer sentences...that's what I say.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Link for Christian Latin Sources

This was a Christian Latin resource recommended by someone in the email group. Seems to be a good place to gather memory pieces or other Christian Latin readings.

Building Children Like Roads

Training children classically is like building a road like the Romans did. You must begin with a solid foundation. Romans used large rocks as a foundation. In classical education, the informational boulders are large fact groups. These large fact groups make up the grammar of each subject. For Latin, these are the inflections for declensions and conjugations, and vocabulary. In math, these are multiplication tables and adding and subtracting facts. In Bible, these are major stories and characters, and books of the Bible. History, Science, Art, and Music also have grammars that form the basis of knowledge for each category.

Romans used various smaller rocks, gravel, sand, or flint for the next layers of a road. These are the things that packed everything together tightly and made the road solid. In education, these are the relationships between the information found in the large fact groups, and the relationships between the subjects themselves. This training is done during the junior high years, when students have mastered the grammar of a subject and are ready to begin studying how those facts came to be and how they affect the world. This is the time students are taught formal logic. Logic and the relationships between subjects cement the information into a single body of knowledge instead of fragmented groups of facts.

Roman roads were finished with smooth paving stones that were more comfortable to drive a cart or walk on and made travel more efficient. On these finished roads traveled the ideas of Greece and Rome, the power of the military, and the truth of the Gospel. In education, rhetoric has the power to swiftly and accurately convey ideas and truth. When the Romans equipped themselves with a network of completed roads, they were able to conquer other lands more efficiently and quell uprisings quickly. When a student is equipped with rhetoric, which has been laid on a foundation of grammar and the cement of logic, he is able to conquer ideas more efficiently and to persuasively tear down falsehoods quickly. It is through the rhetoric of students so trained that the great ideas and truths will be conveyed to the next generation.

It is the hope of the builders of the Christian classical education movement that the work being done in the hearts and minds of these students will stand the test of time as the Roman roads have.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Today's Quote...

from Dr. Who - "Would you mind not farting while I'm saving the world?"

(and in Latin, just for kicks... "Noli dum mundum servo ventum emittere."

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pythagorean Hinduism?

I was reading in Ovid's Metamorphoses tonight -- An interesting section on the Roman monarchy. Romulus has just been deified (Quirinus is his new god name) and Numa has been selected as his predecessor. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Pythagoras (yes, the Pythagorean Theorem math guy) speils for 17 pages about the nature of the universe. He begins by saying that we should basically become vegetarians - eat only vegetables, fruits, grains, etc. Our carnivorous activities are atrocious, imitative of the Cyclopes. After all, only savage animals kill to eat. We may kill ferocious, threatening animals, but we should not consume their flesh once we have done so. Pythagoras then goes on to say (quoted this whole time by Ovid, I might add) that life is an ever changing cycle. Why do you fear the Shades, a fabricated story, he asks. Don't you know that the body may experience death, but the soul will be tranferred to another body? He then claims that during the Trojan was he was Euphorbus, son of Panthous. After many, many pages of the fluid state of life and earth's living energy, he concludes by saying that the reason we should not eat animals is because we must respect the bodies where the souls of our ancestors may have found new homes. Could it be that our Greek friend here believes not in the Greek pantheon, but in the Hindu oneness and transformation of all matter? A quote to stir your thoughts:
"...the heavens and all things beneath the heavens change their forms -- the earth and all that is upon the earth; and since we are parts of the world, we, too, are changeable. For we're not only bodies, but winged souls; and we can dwell in bodies of wild beasts and hide within the shapes of cows and sheep. And so, let us respect --leave whole, intact-- all bodies where our parents' souls or those of brothers or of others dear to us may well have found a home; let us not stuff our bellies banqueting, as did Thyestes. Whover cuts a calf's throat wtih a knife and listens, without pity, to its cries; whoever kills a kid that, like a child, wails loud; whoever feeds upon a bird that he himself has fed --profanely sheds the blood of humans: such a man abets a habit that is evil --little less than murder." (Ovid's Metamorphoses translated by Allen Mandelbaum)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Summer Reading List

Well, this is the summer. I'm almost done with Ovid's Metamorphoses, and it's only taken me about a year. So this is the summer I tackle the Illiad, Oddessey, and Aeneid. I can't justify waiting any longer to read the Aeneid, and I know I won't have a complete picture of the story if I don't first read the Illiad and Odyssey. So... this is it. I've officially posted my goal.

As a sidenote, I've chosen translations of the Oddessey and Aeneid by Allen Mandelbaum. It was his translation of The Metamorphoses that I read and liked so much. I have been very impressed with his translations - in their fullness of meaning and simple beauty to read. I already had a copy of Lattimore's Illiad (which I had heard was an excellent translation), so I'll be interested to see the difference in their styles.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Raising the Bar

Whew. It's amazing how impossible it seems to reach the bar when you're just beginning. And as you get closer to meeting your goal, there's always a higher bar, a greater goal, a raised standard. A little over a year and a half ago I was hired on at Petra Academy to teach Latin to 3rd-10th grade students. I accepted the position in July and had a little over a month to prepare before school started. There was only one problem... I didn't know Latin.

I know what you're thinking - What?! What kind of a school hires a teacher to teach something she readily admits she doesn't know? And what kind of psycho ACCEPTS the position??!!! Well, as I was soon to learn hundreds of times over, "God doesn't call the prepared, he prepares the called." Little did I know that he had already been preparing me for this position. It all started when I was a baby...

When I was an infant, my parents had a friend and missionary staying at their home. He watched me in my crib, just beginning to form sounds in that baby-talk way and told my parents, "She's going to be good with languages someday."

Now fast forward a little over a decade or so to my freshman year of high school. Spanish I with Mrs. Montenegro. Now, Mrs. Montenegro was not a Spanish teacher by occupation. She was a nurse. But she happened to be a native El Salvadorian who learned English (by watching soap operas, I might add) and was willing to teach Spanish to a bunch of high schoolers. We learned all sorts of things that year. We learned to shop in a Spanish market and make authentic maize tortillas, we learned to give directions to the beach (nevermind that we lived in East Texas and the nearest beach was seven hours away), we learned to describe all the animals in a zoo (including a banana slug...), and many other things, all in Spanish. The one thing we didn't learn was Spanish grammar. Oops. Our Spanish II teacher was straight out of college with a degree in Spanish. Let's just say that she was a little more particular with proper Spanish grammar and a little less concerned with actual culture. All in all I'd say my Spanish classes were less than inspiring. Yet despite all that I made trips to Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, and Mexico in the next few years and conversed freely in Spanish with no major problems.

My junior year of high school I decided to try my hand at German. Because I already had a full classload and didn't need any more credits, I opted to audit the class. All was going pretty well until the teacher learned that I wasn't taking the class for credit - He chose then to poke at every mistake I made and make snide remarks about my lack of effort because the class didn't count. I decided it wasn't worth the persecution and dropped the class about half-way through the first semester. Yet - when we took a family trip to Europe the following year, I could hold basic conversations and navigate German signs just fine.

English having been one of my easiest and most enjoyable subjects in high school, I chose it as my major in college. As a liberal arts student, I would need four semesters of a foreign language to graduate. Our university didn't have a whole lot of offerings in the way of foreign language - you could either take Spanish or Greek. I'd had Spanish before so I thought it would be easy, but I heard horor stories about the professor. She was a native French woman fluent in Spanish, French, and German. Unfortunately, she conducted all of her classes only in Spanish and at that, Spanish with a French accent. The only people who managed to pass her classes the first time around were those who grew up in Spanish speaking countries. So... I decided to opt for Greek. By this point I had decided that I wanted to become a linguist and translate the Scriptures. With a degree in English and minors in Bible and Cross-cultural studies I figured Greek was the next step in my journey to missionary translation.

The two years I spent in Greek were all-consuming. I ate, slept, and breathed Greek participles, paradigms, and conjugations. My classmates and I formed a bond that could only be formed by trudging through two years of life-draining academic rigor. I ended the first semester with a hard earned A, followed by two B's, and finally a C, for which I was eternally grateful. By the time I finished my last semester of Greek, I didn't care if I ever saw another foreign language again. I was burnt out.

I didn't really think about language again until that interview with Petra. Noticing that I'd learned Greek, they wanted to know if I would consider teaching Latin.

"Do you realize that I don't know any Latin?" I asked.

They assured me that I had a month before school started to learn. Wow. After praying and consulting those who knew me best (and having all of them say, "Go for it!") I accepted the position and set about the task of learning Latin. I have to admit that, though I tried, I had no idea where to start and got very little accomplished in that first month. But "God doesn't call the prepared, He prepares the called." and He set out that first year to prove once and for all that it was He who was at work - not I. Once school began, never did I sit down to study and learn the material. As I read and planned each lesson, the information clicked into place immediately and fit with the rest to build the picture of Latin I was being given. God gave me what I needed, when I needed it, and not usually long before I needed it.

Now that my second year is drawing to a close, He is still working to supply me with the knowledge I need to do the job He has called me to do. And the more knowledge He gives me, the more I see how much I still have to learn. Learning is a never ending process, and I hope that I never stop learning. There is so much I still have to read and learn and develop before I even have a decent mastery of Latin, much less any of the other subjects in which God has so richly revealed himself. I am convinced that as I (through God's grace) develop my understanding of Latin, I will constantly be presented with new ways to raise the bar and hold myself to a higher academic standard. I stumbled across one of these tonight in an article written in 1912. I know the classical Christian movement is still in its infancy, and I know that it will take time to grow to maturity, as will I. But I pray that God will continue to provide such goals as only He can help me achieve so that my dependence will always be on Him, that my studies in any area will always lead to Him.

Didactic and Dialectic Teaching Methods

This article on the difference between didactic and dialectic teaching methods is interesting. I moved this year from a lecture style presentation of grammar lessons more to the didactic way of presenting material. I still need plenty of work to make this consistent, but I am pleased that I have seen a shift and progression from last year to this, and even from last semester to the present. I do not have the dialectic teaching down well at all. I need to work on this. I think this method would be extremely beneficial in the presentation and analysis of primary sources. The article presents the didactic method in a much clearer way than the dialectic, but does make it clear that they are both necessary and complimentary.

And yet another great article

This article, particularly the poem, is just a small glimpse into the incredible depth and insight the study of classical literature/history/language can offer when viewed through the light of God's Scripture. I have never met education so breathtaking as that which I have encountered in my two years at Petra.

Teaching Latin...

brings instant gratification. 3rd grade Latin has got to be one of my favorite classes to teach. I love the enthusiasm they bring to class each day and their eagerness to discover something new. They can't wait for Wednesdays, when we talk about derivatives. Their hands shoot into the air when asked why we pronounce "Veni, vidi, vici" using a different pronunciation than our other quotes because they are excited to describe it as 'ecclesiastical Latin' and actually know what that means. They see pronoun chants not as more that they have to learn for a quiz, but as a new challenge, longer than the previous and therefore all the more rewarding when they master it. The author of this article states her experiences with elementary Latin students in much the same light. There is a great part of me that looks forward to next year when, Deo volente, I will be teaching only half the classload I am this year. But another part of me misses already the elation that comes from the excited faces of 3rd graders greeting me daily with, "Salve, Magistra Wickland!" The day is approaching when I must say "Valete, discipuli" for the last time as they file out of my room, but I will cherish each day until then and be thankful that God has given me the grace to teach all of the Latin classes for two years. What a blessing it has been to see the trivium in action, all three phases side by side each day.

Becoming a Student

In Gregory's Seven Laws of Teaching we read that one of the things that must happen for learning to take place is that the student must attend with interest the lesson being taught. Learning cannot be acheived passively by the student. This article by Brian Smith on How to Be a Student is an excellent reminder of what it means to attend with interest the lesson being taught. It should be a reminder not only for those pupils in an educational institution, but also for adults who seek to be students of Scripture and life.

Articles on Teaching Latin Grammar

Memoria Press has made some of their previously published articles available online. Two articles on teaching the Grammar of Latin (Article 1, Article 2) could be helpful in emphasizing to a new Elementary Latin teacher the basic necessity of learning the conjugations, declensions, and paradigms thoroughly before moving on to translation in Latin. I like what the author says about making sure students are drilled thoroughly enough to give various forms for words immediately upon request. The author discourages the memorization of long lists of vocabulary, but says that obtaining a vocabulary of 500-1000 words over four years is acceptable. In elementary Latin at Petra, we are within this vocabulary limit. I think our curriculum could better use the vocabulary in drill sentences and we could use model sentences to futher drill the most commonly used vocabulary. It is worth mentioning that when the author refers to "overlearning," she is referring to review.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Great Stereopticon

I was reading Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver this evening and I found myself in the chapter titled "The Great Stereopticon." Aside from having a very cool name and 12 words I had to look up, the chapter made some excellent points on the depth with which we consider the information we partake of each day. Weaver describes The Great Stereopticon as a machine consisting of three parts: the press, the motion picture, and the radio. The purpose of the Stereopticon, he says, is basically to maintain or instill values. The way the machine does this is "to project selected pictures of life in the hope that what is seen will be imitated."

To begin the chapter, Weaver presents a dilemma in which leaders must unite a people are no longer like-minded on fundamental issues. Originally the people were united by a shared belief or common religion. As religion deteriorated and the people became fragmented and individualistic, the leaders were forced to try to unite them again so that they could be led (or rather, so that the leaders could have a group to lead.) The leaders' solution was
"to let religion go but to replace it with education, which supposedly would exercise the same efficacy. The separation of education from religion, one of the proudest achievements of modernism, is but an extension of the separation of knowledge from metaphysics... We include here, of course, the education of the classroom, for all such institutionalized instruction proceeds on the assumptions of the state. But the education which best accomplishes their purpose is the systematic indoctrination from day to day of the whole citizenry through channels of information and entertainment."
And so the Great Stereopticon was constructed to so indoctrinate the public.

As Weaver addresses each of the three parts to this machine, he speaks of how each is used in the breakdown of a thinking society. Newspapers, by their bold article titles and carefully worded reports elicit automatic responses.
"Headlines and advertising teem with them [carefully chosen phrases to evoke specific responses of approval or disapproval], and we seem to approach a point at which failure to make the stock response is regarded as faintly treasonable, like refusal to salute the flag."
Because of this, journalism becomes something to be feared. So many are not used to thinking that when they feel a response contradictory to the one suggested by the piece, they don't know what to do.
"If our newspaper reader were trained to look for assumptions, if he were conscious of the rhetoric in lively reporting, we might not fear this product of the printer's art; but that woul be to grant that he is educated."
This is the education we are seeking to do through Classical Christian education, that most of us did not receive ourselves.

As for Weaver's discussion on movies, I found his ideas of censorship very interesting and inconsistent with those I was raised to hold. On censorship he says,
"For what the public is reconciled to seeing censored are just the little breaches of decorum which fret bourgeios respectability and sense of security. The truth is that these are so far removed from the heart of the problem that they could well be ignored. The thing that needs to be censored is not the length of the kisses but the egotistic, selfish, and self-flaunting hero; not the relative proportion of undraped breast but the flippant, vacuous-minded, and also egotistic heroine. Let us not worry about the jokes of dubious propriety; let us rather object to the whole story, with its complacent assertation of the virtues of materialistic society."
And possibly most interesting was his critique of the radio and television. Being an NPR addict myself, I thought, "What could possibly be wrong with NPR?" For the radio and television he states that the problem lies in the "daily mechanical wrecking of hierarchy." Through our daily consumption of these media,
"we are made to grow accustomed to the weirdest of juxtapositions: the serious and the trivial, the comic and the tragic, follow one another in mechanical sequence without real transition."
This approach separates us from the reality of our world and feeds us the metaphysical dream of progress, somehow making us feel that though the world is in disarray, it will soon be all better and we need not worry now. Cheerful commentators come on the air to discuss in the same breath the death of Pope John Paul II and the rising gas prices, as through they had equal significance and impact. This fragmentation has never seemed inconsistent to me, but then I have been inundated with it my entire life. It seems no stranger to me that 2 minute commercial breaks (which are divided into four 30 second segments) break up an hour long news show (which is itself broken into four or more segments) than it does that the days are separated into hours and minutes and divided by night. How do we, who are so satiated with the ideas fed us through the Great Stereopticon become free to think and reason without its influence? I'm sure there is much to be said to answer this question and I will continue to think on it, probably for years. But I know my starting place... "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." ~Proverbs 1:7

A really interesting blog on The Great Stereopticon can be found at The Misspent Life.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Famous Men of Rome Website

Here's a possibly good resource for summaries of some of the famous men of Rome. It takes the information from Livy's accounts and summarizes it in a way that is easily read by children. I think this is the same book our school has and uses with 5th-6th graders. This appears to be the online edition. Anyway- should be a good resource if I remember to use it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Defense For Continuing High School Latin

In my Latin teachers email group, a woman wrote in with the question, "We are currently working on our high school graduation requirements (we have two 9th-graders this year), and we have a potential new student at the high school level for next year. We have already decided to require two years of a modern language, but our students have already had Latin from 3rd-8th grade. If a new student does not have any Latin, do any of your schools require it for high school graduation? If you had to choose between teaching Latin (or Greek) or a modern language for high school students, what would you do?"

The following was my response. I had never thought about the reasons behind continuing the study of Latin instead of a modern language in high school, but in thinking through it, I gained a fuller understanding of what it is I'm trying to do in my classroom.
It seems like a lot of the responses on Latin vs. modern language have been from lower schools only, so I thought I'd give some input from one who teaches both elementary and secondary Latin. Our students take Latin from 3rd -10th (we hope to offer Greek someday in the 11th and 12th). I find that Latin is especially beneficial to students transitioning from the Logic to Rhetoric phases. Elementary Latin is all about memorizing the vocabulary, endings, cases, etc. 6/7-8th grade Latin is about seeing the relationships between the words and learning how they work to form sentences the way they do. When students begin to transition into the more idiomatic/poetic Latin, it really helps them see how language works. This is around the time (and at our school even a little before) they study formal rhetoric. Ideally they should be reading some "real" Latin and becoming familiar with the rhetorical devices in Latin, how they translate to English, why they are effective, how the speeches impacted history, etc. These things don't make a whole lot of sense to students in the logic phase. They're still pretty concrete thinkers. In the poetic / rhetoric phase, it clicks with the students and they see the impact of language from a different perspective. Modern languages don't really offer these types of rich rhetorical histories which are so much a part of English's past. Modern languages are fine, don't misunderstand me, but if you're looking for the best language to use to train students in the tools of learning, I would say Latin is it. Your students are already familiar with it, and even if new students come into Latin it isn't so difficult it can't be made up with effort. I have a new 9th grader this year who has not had any Latin, while the other students have had at least 1 year, and one student has had 5 years. The new student picks up so much from the insight of the other students that he has done very well. He works very hard and currently has a B-. Most likely your students will have the opportunity (or even requirement!) to study a modern language in college. One of the best preparations for that is to teach them how to study a language (using Latin, which they are already familiar with!) using all three of the tools of learning.

[The links were added for anyone unfamiliar with the 'tools of learning' and were not a part of the original email. Miss Sayers' essay explains one of the central ideas in Classical Christian education.]

Monday, March 21, 2005

Classroom Resource

You can easily make your own word searches and word games at the Educational Press website. They print out very nicely and take a lot of the work out of making them yourself!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wish List

Okay... So when I have a baby, these are must-haves. Little onesies with Carpe infantem (seize the baby) and Dormio ergo sum (I sleep therefore I am). These are great!!!!!
Wow... now your puppy can wear Latin, too! If only I had a dog. (Cave canem ... beware of the dog)

Free Latin Materials

These are free Latin posters/materials from the Committee for the Promotion of Latin. Good Resource!

Magistra Ginny Lindzey

This is a link to Ginny Lindzey's curriculum vitae. One of these days I need to start something like this.

Tips for Studying Latin

Cornell College lists these tips for effective Latin study. Ginny Lindzey recommends these. Both mention not studying vocabulary for more than 10-15 minutes in a single session.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Weather in Latin

At the Weather Underground website, you can get a weather report in pretty much any language, including Latin. Bozeman's weather today is serenus, magis auster quam eurus, i.e. calm, winds from the south east. That's pretty cool.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Staff Meeting Assignment

When asked to respond to the following quote from Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (Douglas Wilson, Crossway Books 1991), this was my response.


“It is not enough to take the curricula of the government schools, add a prayer and a Bible class, and claim the result is somehow Christian.” (Wilson 62)


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:1-4)

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love," (Colossians 1:13)

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." (Colossians 1:16-17)

According to the passages quoted above, everything that exists does so because of God and for God. This includes everything we see and cannot see: us, our minds, the laws of science, the rulers in history, the syntax of languages, the colors in art, the sounds in music, and everything else that exists. He is also the one who sustains everything. If we are to understand the things in the world in which we live, we must first understand where they came from and for what purpose. Genesis begins by telling us that everything comes from God. If we deny that God is the creator (or even leave it open for other possible explanations, as some Christians do in “tolerance,”) we cannot hope to understand the truth that is found in creation. Once it has been determined that God is the source of all things, then we can begin studying them, but it is only through His light that we can understand them. Without Him we are in darkness. Since I began working at Petra, I have heard over and over, “If you want to know what a man thought, you must read what he wrote.” Well, if you want to know what God thinks, you must read what He wrote. Why did He create everything? In Colossians 1:16 we read that all things were created for Him. In Romans 1:20 we are told that God’s attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. Psalm 148 and 19:1 explain that the works of God declare His glory. The purpose of the creation is to glorify the Creator.

Shift your thoughts now to the classroom. Educators in secular classrooms are trying to study the creation without reference to the Creator. But the creation’s purpose is to point to the Creator! This is akin to purchasing a puzzle of a lighthouse, then using the pieces to try to form a picture of a kitten. The pieces weren’t designed to form any picture other than the one the intended by the puzzlemaker. As long as you are in process of putting the puzzle together, you can convince people that you are putting together a puzzle of a kitten. But sooner or later it will be evident that your progress is unsatisfactory. You cannot gain knowledge (much less wisdom!) without reference to God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7)

As Christian teachers, we cannot fall into the same trap that the secular schools have. Satan would like us to, but we have to realize that the education of students is a spiritual endeavor, and is therefore a spiritual battlefront. We will lose the battle if we send our troops through the same training that the enemy uses. Our soldiers cannot simply match the enemy in strength and training, but must be swifter and stronger if we want them to succeed. We must train our students to filter everything through the Word of God, and to do so we must filter everything through the Word of God. It is not enough to filter the Bible class through Scripture; we must filter everything. God’s creation includes language, science, math, history, art, and music. Remember, the purpose of creation is to point to the Creator. Because of this, all subjects, facts, and the relationships between them must be carefully examined in the light of God’s truth. And not only the facts or subjects themselves, but also the way in which we approach our work and study of them. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Just a few verses later we are told, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." (Colossians 3:23) It is not the content taught in Christian schools that makes them “Christian,” but the process of bringing the content under the Lordship of Christ, through the light of the truth of Scripture, with the understanding that doing so will bring glory to God, the Creator.


Recommended Book

The book An Education for Our Time by Josiah Bunting III was highly recommended by one of the teachers in the Classical Classroom email group. I've never heard of it and am very curious. Perhaps this will make it onto the wishlist. I found several inexpensive copies online, so it might just make it onto my shelf one of these days.

An interesting PBS interview with Mr. Bunting can be found here. How does what he's saying fit with classical education? Interesting...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Websites for Roman Military Information

I found a website which has an appendix on the military affairs of ancient Rome, including types of clothing and weapons used. It should be a good quick reference for vocabulary help. A second appendix about military formations and procedures also seems helpful.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Classical Christian Email Groups

I have found two email groups to be helpful. The Classical Christian Latin Teachers group is extremely helpful for starting Latin teachers who are looking for ideas or help implementing the classical model in their classrooms. Another helpful group is the Classical Classroom group. This is not for Latin teachers especially, but for any classical Christian teachers or administrators. Membership (free) is required to be a part of both of these, but if you are a classical Christian teacher, it would be well worth your time to look into these sites.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Flashcard Exchange

The flashcard exchange website is great! You can make your own flashcards and quiz yourself online. It will even keep track of which cards you missed and let you quiz over just the missed cards. It's great for me as a teacher because I can quickly make flashcards for my students and they can quiz themselves during their own study time. And on top of all that, it's free for the basic online flashcard set up!

Symbolum Apostolorum

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae.
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
Et in Iesum Christum, Filium eium unicum, Dominum nostrum,
And in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord,
qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria virgine,
who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary,
passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus.
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried.
Descendit ad inferna, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis, ascendit ad caelos,
He descended into hell, on the third day he raised from the dead, he ascended into heaven,
sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis,
He sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty
inde venturus iudicare vivos et mortuos.
from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead.
Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem,
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of the saints,
remissionem peccatorem, carnis resurrectionem, vitam aeternam.
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, life eternal.

Today I assigned my students the task of translating the apostles' creed into English (we've been memorizing it for about 6 weeks) and providing scriptural support for each clause contained in the creed. I'm curious to see how they turn out when the students turn them in tomorrow. I took time today to complete the same assignment and it was interesting. I had to do some research on the "communion of the saints." What does that mean? Apparently, it has been taken to mean both the fellowship of believers and the sacrament/Lord's supper. I found scriptures to support both, but don't really know where to find out which was originally intended when the creed was written.

Our next creed is the Nicene Creed. It will be interesting to see how the two creeds differ and why. It's been a while since I was in doctrine class and I have to say I'm enjoying getting back into scripture for the purpose of digging out doctrine. Again... who knew that by becoming a Latin teacher I would get to do stuff like this for class?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Great Article

This is a great article on teaching Latin. Specifically, it contains some excellent ideas for keeping Latin translations exciting without doing the same thing day after day. I think this would come in especially handy as we phase into poetry and prose for 9th and 10th grade Latin at Petra.

Latin Texts

I found a great website today for Latin texts. The Latin Library has electronic copies of a large number of texts, both ancient and medieval. It would be a good site to print out selections I want students to translate or discuss in class.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Note to Self

7th graders need to turn in two rough drafts before the final draft. It would also be a good idea to have them set up a time to meet with me so that I can go over the second rough draft with them before they start working on the final. It will definitely take more of my time, but the purpose is to train them to be diligent and write well, right?

Wish List

Another book on my Latin teacher wish list is Spend the Day in Ancient Rome by Linda Honan. It is an activity book to use with elementary students (though I think some of the activities would certainly be good for 7th and 8th graders as well) studying Latin and the Romans. This would be a good resource for our school to have to pass around for the elementary teachers. It would also be good to have on hand for parents to use to add to what their students are learning in class. List price $12.95, $9.71 from Amazon online.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Jenney's First Year Latin - Ch 24

Study Ch 24 vocabulary here.

Latin Haiku

I remember studying about Haiku in middle school, but it didn't make much of an impact on me. Now, as I have read haiku more recently, I think it could be useful in my classroom. There's a book called Tonight They All Dance published by Bolchazy-Carducci. Latin teacher Ginny Lindzey has written a review of it here. We write cinquains and diamontes, but it would be nice to have a completely different type of poem for variety.

While there are a number of "guidelines" for writing haiku (mostly having to do with the themes chosen, etc.), it seems the basic idea of a haiku is to have three lines of 5-7-5 syllables. The examples in the book are really neat in that, for the most part, the haiku fit the 5-7-5 pattern both in Latin and in English and are translated equally well in both.

Wish List

38 Latin Stories Teacher's Guide to accompany the student text I already have. It would save a lot of time. And it's only $6.

The Elementary Latin Translation Book would also be very nice to use in class. It would be an excellent way to practice specific grammatical points without having to rely on disconnected sentences provided in the book. $18

Pope John XXIII's Reasons for Learning Latin

Pope John XXIII gave a number of reasons for learning Latin.

Primary Sources

Fordham University seems to be a good place to find primary sources. Some of the links to external sites are dead, but the sources found on their site are useful.

As a Latin teacher, I really wish there were a book or resource that could give a good overview of how to teach Latin classically. It seems like my two years of teaching have been largely trial and error. I have been making progress, but it seems like there needs to be a better, faster (wow... have I bought into American thinking so much that I now want the microwave meal equivalent of experience, too?) way to learn what I need to in order to teach my students the way that I ought to. As a teacher, I know that students do not learn by being fed information. It takes seeking, digging, ingesting, and digesting information to make a real student and lover of learning. So I know that just as it won't work for me to tell my students the information they need to know, it won't work for someone else to tell me the information I need to know. Experience comes from trying, literally. (etym: Experience<experiens<experior, to try, endure Lat.)