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.