Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Bring back Latin

I am fascinated by this article from the Evening Standard concerning the resurgence of Latin in London schools.

Latin can make an outstanding contribution, not just to language ability but also for children's general thinking and reasoning skills. In one Scottish school that I am aware of, Latin was ditched in S1/2 (Years 8/9 for my English readers) and replaced by extra ICT classes. At first glance, ICT may seem to represent 21st Century technology and 'the way to go' - in practice, I am highly dubious as to the efficacy of kids fiddling around with computers as a discrete subject. I have considerably better ICT skills than the vast majority of pupils in any school where I have taught; yet my skills are self-taught.

A friend who is a Latin teacher made the point that anyone who is serious about taking their ICT skills to a high level would actually be better learning Latin - by the time you have got your head around your vocative cases and your ablative absolutes, you will have covered not only every grammatical construct that you will ever encounter in any other language you study, but also have the sort of analytical and reasoning skills that are invaluable to a whole range of careers, eg computer programming.

So, there is my solution. When I am a head teacher, ICT as a discrete subject in S1/2 gets binned and it is 'welcome back' to Latin. With a move to a 33 period week, maybe we don't actually need to bin anything, come to think of it. Just give Latin one of the 33 periods.

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