I hope everyone is getting excited for the beginning of their school year. I know I am! I hope you are also happy for your students to take Latin this year. I thought you might need a pep talk before the year starts. Here is my humble attempt:
Latin is a pivotal language for students to learn more about grammar, writing and reading. Latin makes it easier for people to learn other subjects as well. Here is my favorite quote from Dorothy Sayers’ Lost Tools of Learning:
I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this, not because Latin is traditional and medieval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least fifty percent. It is the key to vocabulary and structure of all the Romance languages and to the structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historical documents.
Renaissance greats knew this. Erasmus, Thomas More, and Petrarch all understood that the study of Latin authors was pivotal to a strong education. All three of them sought to make sure the classics were studied and that the styles of the ancients were emulated. Latin and Greek permeated everything from literature to art and architecture. Latin was the lingua franca to the educated.
The Founding Fathers knew the importance of Latin. Early American colleges did not consider a student for admission unless he could read and write in Latin. Thomas Jefferson started his studies in Latin and Greek at age nine. Benjamin Franklin insisted that his first newspaper have Latin mottoes within it to educate the masses.
We classical parents know the importance of Latin for our children. We believe that it will do the things for our children we have heard it said that it will do. It helps our students to become better communicators for Jesus and helps them in the study of the Word. We also know that we need to lead this educational train for our children. Here are my tips:
- Be an encourager. Remind your students why they should appreciate their Latin studies and what the studies will help them do.
- Be an organizer. Put together a notebook for your student to use for his/her Latin studies. I like the notebook that my friend Lanelle asks her students to make: (https://classicalconversations.com/article/quaestia-et-responsa-questions-and-answers).
- Be a student. Have your student explain their Latin to you. Review your English grammar and always start with reviewing the English forms with your students.
- Be resourceful. Find another book besides your textbook to help you if you get stuck.
- Be prayerful. Pray that you and your student stay committed and are able to work on Latin daily. Pray that you over-drill your student. Pray that you are able to review. Pray that you see connections to other subjects.