Thursday, February 08, 2007

More on Latin and Why It's Big Stuff

Continuing from the last post . . .

So if Latin provides more than an exercise for intellectuals to learn about ancient culture and literature, how does it work? As important, will it work for the average teacher?

Road Tested

Metamorphosis can offer a program in Latin for teachers to enhance their lessons in any subject because its founder, Dr. Richard Gilder, has experienced the way it's changed the atmosphere in classrooms. In addition to offering workshops across the US, he currently teaches at Tuxedo Park School and City University of New York.

For those of you unfamiliar with New York, you couldn't get two institutions further apart in membership. The first is an expensive (what Americans call) private school, and the second is a state university with a diverse population of students -- most of whom don't have the money for (well) a posh, expensive alternative.

There's also a great deal of interest at schools in the South Bronx from teachers who want to show their students patterns in all sorts of data -- from language to the relationship among course areas.

Back to Grammar: through Latin More than Just Word Order, Vocabulary, and Punctuation (Which Really Should Be Enough)

Richard teaches Latin in relation to English. Whatever he demonstrates in Latin is practiced in English first. Through the exercises, the class explores variations of ways to express themselves in particular circumstances. Then they learn to recognize patterns in English that offer sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, logic behind the differences.

Why is This Fun?

Richard treats language like a complicated machine that can be taken apart and put back together again like a car engine -- or a computer. Sometimes language is more like a creature with both predictable and surprising behavior, the logic of which can be understood regardless of its movements.

This car engine, computer, or creature is one with which kids are already intimately familiar. It lives in their bodies and connects them to every person, object, and idea in their lives. Understanding how this works is fascinating to them.

And the Latin makes the lesson impossible to forget.

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