Monday, May 31, 2010

Latin in Secondary Schools

Having suffered five years of compulsory Latin at my English grammar school up to GCE 'O' Level, I was quite surprised to find Latin on the secondary school curriculum here in Belgium. Not just find it but to see that it is the number one choice for the brighter, more academically minded children. In my son's school, as long as a child is doing well above average in Dutch, French and Maths then he or she may choose 4 hours of Latin in the middelbare school or 2 hours of Latin with 2 hours of scientific project work.

My 12 year old son loves his classical history and so immediately chose for 4 hours of Latin. In year 2 he can then choose to add 3 hours of Greek.

I checked to see whether British school children are still studying Latin and was dismayed to find that it is not part of the National Curriculum and with a few exceptions, only children at fee-paying private/independent schools have the opportunity to study Latin.

A study by Friends of Classics, unveiled at a meeting, found that 2% to 4% of state primary schools teach Latin compared to 40% of independent schools.

Mr Boris Johnson, Mayor London, said it was "absurd" for Latin to be left out of the curriculum. Mr Johnson, who studied the language at Eton and at Oxford, said:
"I firmly believe that we must not starve the minds of students eager to embrace the great intellectual disciplines of Latin.

"And we must stop the classics being the fodder of the independent sector alone.

"There is simply no better way than to make young minds think in a logical and analytical way."

Dr Peter Jones, co-founder of Friends of Classics, said: "There is no question that the demand is there for Latin."

The study found that a big reason for not teaching the language was lack of funds and resources, with 40% of schools facing difficulty in recruiting staff trained in Latin.

I am delighted that my son has chosen to study Latin. I think this discipline will serve him well in learning how to learn, to think analytically and as a basis for the necessary approach to studying sciences.

Source: BBC

1 comment:

Marilena said...

Hi, my name is Marilena. I am an Italian living in California. I was looking for information on Belgium and I found your blog. Very interesting. I was wondering if you can explain more about the schools in Belgium. Something like "A day in a belgian school". I am looking for information on subjects studied, but also on teaching methods. Thank you