Latin bites the dust

20th June 2008 at 01:00
In Boris Johnson's first speech as London mayor this month, he suggested a novel approach to tackling knife crime in the capital: teach teenagers Latin
In Boris Johnson's first speech as London mayor this month, he suggested a novel approach to tackling knife crime in the capital: teach teenagers Latin. The classics graduate said that although policing was important, young people also needed a varied education and there was "a huge amount we can do by promoting the learning of languages, including Latin".

So are there any recent examples of classics teachers trying to defuse gang violence? As a matter of fact, yes. But it ended badly.

Alan Eaton, 33, a Latin teacher at Woodside High in San Mateo County, northern California, intervened when he saw a gang member harassing one of his students after class. Mr Eaton approached Lamarr Timmons, 19, a member of the so-called Shady mob, and tried to calm him down, saying: "There are thousands of words in the world, but I think you're using the wrong ones."

The gang member's response was a profanity, followed by a threat to knock the teacher out. He later floored Mr Eaton with a single punch, causing him pound;3,000 worth of dental damage, including the loss of three teeth. Cripes.

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