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Wednesday, 8 October 2008

And in a world of synchronicity ...

...we learn that Latin Has Returned from the Dead in Schools
The NYTimes says it, so it must be so :oP (really, the rancor occasioned by any mention of that august newspaper in certain political circles is mind-boggling; it confuses and intrigues me the way the visceral hatred of Palin does in certain other political circles.... but i digress)

Although of course, earlier descriptions of its demise were somewhat exaggerated.
When I was in knee pants... oh wait, I'm a girl, when I was in pigtails, (although when I was in pigtails, girls were allowed to wear pants, although only the most fashion forward would have actually worn knickers, but it's just a metaphor, I never actually wore my waist length hair in pigtails either, but I digress, so when I was in pigtails and knee pants) it was assumed that intellectuals would take Latin the first 2 or even three years that languages were offered in middle school. Until shortly before that it was assumed that grinds would as well, but now it was just for people who were going to take airy-fairy majors in college.
I was neither intellectual nor grind, what I was was a good test-taker so I appeared to be on the cusp of one or the other I suppose, and my interest in classical music and theatre qualified me as airy-fairy, I guess.
Anyway, there was more than one class, in fact, more than one teacher of Latin in my public middle school. After the first couple of levels it dwindled down so that by my last year of high school there may have been 7 or eight of us in whatever level that was.
I do remember a teacher at the middle school level saying, Of course, this is of no use to you Catholics any more.
Ha. Anyway, I think the general idea was that lawyers, doctors and philosophers would find it useful, (oh, and singers who might encounter the Great Works of Art to which the Ordinary of the Mass's utility had been reduced.
I don't remember the It will help you on your SATs meme, although it certainly helped me on my college boards (the 800 in Latin ameliorated the obvious neglect I had paid my school work in other ways.)
Enrollment in Latin classes here in this Westchester County suburb has increased by nearly one-third since 2006, to 187 of the district’s 10,500 students, and the two middle schools in town are starting an ancient-cultures club in which students will explore the lives of Romans, Greeks and others.
The resurgence of a language once rejected as outdated and irrelevant is reflected across the country as Latin is embraced by a new generation of students like Xavier who seek to increase SAT scores or stand out from their friends, or simply harbor a fascination for the ancient language after reading Harry Potter’s Latin-based chanting spells.

The number of students in the United States taking the National Latin Exam has risen steadily to more than 134,000 students in each of the past two years, from 124,000 in 2003 and 101,000 in 1998, with large increases in remote parts of the country like New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont. The number of students taking the Advanced Placement test in Latin, meanwhile, has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, to 8,654 in 2007. While Spanish and French still dominate student schedules — and Chinese and Arabic are trendier choices — Latin has quietly flourished in many high-performing suburbs, like New Rochelle, where Latin’s virtues are sung by superintendents and principals who took it in their day. In neighboring Pelham, the 2,750-student district just hired a second full-time Latin teacher after a four-year search, learning that scarce Latin teachers have become more sought-after than ever.
But you know something? (This is back to the synchronicity thang...) I think this resurgence, if resurgence there be, (and there must be, because it says so in the NYTimes,) is related to what I said, not in the post immediately preceding this, but in the blog on the Chesterton school -- people are getting away from treating all education as if it were a trade school.

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