Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Study Latin, Greek, or Ancient History?

Latin?! Yikes! If the trivium didn’t scare people off, Latin and Greek usually do. These reasons came from the “Why Study Latin & Greek?” The Classical Teacher, by Andrew Campbell, Summer 2007, (a publication of Memoria Press). I agree wholeheartedly, but he just stated the arguments much more eloquently, so these are pretty much in his words.

The practical arguments for studying classical languages are these: they increase English vocabulary, they aid in understanding our crazy English grammar, Latin is the key to modern languages, studying Latin increases standardized test scores, and some careers require knowledge of them. Those all sound like pretty good reasons to study Latin to me!

But wait, there’s more. Here are the cultural reasons for studying Latin (and Greek): knowledge of the classics increases cultural literacy, classical history is YOUR history, and, believe it or not, the cultural experience of the ancient world is relevant to us today. You know the old saying “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

As if those arguments weren’t enough, Campbell presents three formative arguments for studying classical languages and curriculum: they impart exceptional intellectual discipline, they inspire moral insight and virtue, and they form aesthetic judgment.

Wow. Those are some pretty compelling arguments.

The question is how can a parent who never had Latin or Greek teach those languages to her children? It is possible! Check out the great variety of curricula that’s written specifically for parents to learn with their children. Some are textbooks and teacher’s manuals, some are computer programs. The writers of these curricula realize that many parents desire more for their children than they received as students themselves. I will list Latin and Greek curricula along with many other classical homeschooling resources in an upcoming post.

So, what do we do? We have worked on Latin for a combined total of nine years (three of those years were overlapping). To answer your next question, no, I had no prior knowledge of Latin. It has worked! I did have a bit of an advantage, though, in that my father teaches Latin and was able to help us along some (thank goodness for Skype!).

I did, however, take a year of Greek in college. While we chose not to study Greek in our homeschool, we did study ancient Grecian history. What do I remember of the Greek I took in college? Honestly, not much, because I never made the effort to use it again. If I had applied myself and kept reading and studying it, I’m sure that I could still use it today.

Q4U: How can you and your family incorporate Latin and/or Greek if you have never learned it previously?

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”