To save this undefined to your undefined account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your undefined account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The lessons planned in this essay were designed for a group of Year 7 students in an independent girls’ school in London. Their course of study for Classics in Year 7 was a general introduction, involving beginners’ Greek and the rudiments of Latin, but largely focused on learning about Greek mythology, Homeric epic and Roman culture. Wright's Greeks & Romans textbook was often used in class, but the content was chosen and materials designed by the class teacher. I began teaching this class just as they were finishing Greek mythology and beginning to study the Iliad and Odyssey. The sequence of four lessons, based around the Underworld was intended to provide a re-cap of the Homeric material after they had studied the two epics, as well as exploring in further detail episodes which I had skipped over for the sake of brevity in the previous sequence, such as the Odyssey's katabasis. It also looked forward to studying Roman material in the next module by introducing the Aeneid in translation.
This study originates from my curiosity to explore a different Latin teaching approach to address some students’ misconception that Latin is an unnecessarily complicated language that no one speaks anymore.
Creative writing is a teaching strategy employed increasingly less frequently as students progress through their secondary education. From my own school experience and observing other teachers, many such tasks are set in Year 7 but then later give way to the pressure of preparing students for exams. In the first Professional Placement of my postgraduate teacher training, I observed a Classical Civilisation teacher set her sixth form students to write a poem about Hector or Andromache from the Iliad Book 6. Although there was some initial reluctance, students largely engaged with the task and we were both impressed by the results. This prompted me to carry out my own research project to explore further the potential impact of creative writing, following the argument that one way into a text is to understand the characters within it.
This case study was prompted by the identification, in observations and in discussion with the normal class teacher, of pupil demotivation and disaffection during Latin lessons, and the fact that this represented a considerable barrier to attainment and progress. My observation of this phenomenon coincided with Year 9 submitting their GCSE options. The combination of apparently ambiguous attitudes towards the subject and the fact that these attitudes were being brought to the fore explicitly because of the options choices drew my attention to pupil perceptions of the subject. It seemed to me that understanding the way in which pupils perceive the subject might be instructive for my own teaching practice, allowing me to better understand what pupils enjoy about the subject, what they find difficult, what enthuses them and what turns them off. Furthermore, the place of Latin within schools in general, and the particular school in which I conducted this study, is not something that should be taken for granted. It seemed to me, therefore, that this case study might provide some insight into whether Latin is a subject that young people feel is relevant and perhaps might offer some insight into what can allow Latin to have as inclusive an appeal as possible.
In 2020, we are facing unprecedented times, and as some form of lockdown continues with no signs of ending feelings of hopelessness are completely natural and understandable. Unprecedented times does not mean that these current issues and struggles have never been faced by humanity before, however. The Spanish Flu which took place after World War One and the Black Death that was rampant in Asia and Europe in the 14th century quickly come to mind as examples of past pandemics, but these are only two examples of devastating diseases throughout human history. The Plague of Athens that was raging during the beginning of the Peloponnesian War in 430 BCE is another such example. Though removed from our current situation by many centuries, its symptoms and the effects it had on the population of Athens have been meticulously recorded by the general and historian Thucydides, giving us the opportunity to compare his account to our own experiences today. The disease may be different, and the image he portrays may be more violent and desperate than our own, but nonetheless we can see similarities in how these two separate societies have reacted to unforeseen hardships. In this comparison, we can come to understand at once our own good fortune at going through a pandemic with the support of modern technology and medicine as well as how universal our reactions are to this type of suffering, thereby making it natural rather than shameful. Humanity has faced a great deal of diversity before, and COVID-19 will likely prove to be no different.
[Readers of this article should be aware of the revisionist (in their time, certainly) and controversial views of Roger Wright (1982) about the relationship between Latin and Romance, the separation of Latin and Romance, and the dates he proposes for these and for the beginning of Medieval Latin as a newly constituted form of Latin.]
Every day teachers try to improve their students’ awareness of how life was in Classical times. We talk about mythology, politics, the building of cities and many other aspects that made the ancient world, but what do we actually know and teach about clothing in ancient times? Our society seems to pay a lot of attention to the physical aspect of the ancient world. We know that clothing and adornment are important ways in which people were defined as a part of a social group, yet our students seem to believe that our ancestors just had a poor selection of national garments to make their identity clear.
Like all teachers, when I was in the classroom, I knew inside out the syllabus I was teaching and the papers which would assess it. I also, however, gave very little thought to how these things had come to be. I had a vague sense that the ‘Exam Board’ had created them and awarded my students their grades, but they were a black box, moving in mysterious ways. I gave even less thought to the Powers That Be above and beyond the boards and the impact they had on me and my students.
Engaging students with the far-distant past can be a challenge. We established Hands Up Education, a non-profit community interest company, in 2017 in recognition of the need for materials that reflect the priorities of today’s students and teachers. Writing a new textbook series provided an opportunity to reevaluate the traditional perspective and prioritise what is important for students learning Latin in the 21st century.
Provincia Iudaea is a supplementary reader for beginning and intermediate Latin students. It includes three stories set in first-century Judaea. The stories explain the confrontation between Romans and Jews at this time. The first story unfolds through the eyes of the main character, a young Jewish girl named Eliana. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Eliana and her mother escape to Masada. Many years later, 132 CE, another character, Naomi, completes the narrative about the final struggle between Romans and Jews during the Bar Kochba Revolt. The book concludes with Hadrian's proclamations. Illustrations abound in this reader, giving students an anchor for understanding the narrative. Vocabulary is provided on facing pages so that students can read without the burden of looking up words. Some words appear in the dictionary entry format, whereas others are simply glossed. The reason for this is not to burden students with grammatical details
Never has the phrase annus horribilis seemed more applicable than in this past dreadful year. Virgil's lacrimae rerum have, I imagine, been with us all throughout; though I doubt that it was ‘the tiers of things’ he had in mind.