Re vera, it's mumbo-jumbo verbum

27th July 2007 at 01:00
classicists should have been delighted to see the apparent return of Latin to the key stage 4 science (from "scientia", meaning knowledge) curriculum this month.

Knowledge of classical Latin categorisations, such as the genus of plants and animals, was long seen as critical to the study of medicine, biology or chemistry.

Nonetheless, even ardent traditionalists and classicists such as Boris Johnson, the Conservative spokesman on higher education and classical Rome, cannot have expected the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to go so far as it did this month.

The authority's outline of the breadth of the science curriculum concludes with the prescription: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet endescae forn vileium conduse dolor amet ipsum loremus endit."

A worthy ambition, perhaps, for our young scientists. But what, we ask Dr Peter Jones from the Friends of Classics, does it all mean? "Ho, ho," he says. "It's rubbish. This is called, I believe, scrap a way designers have of filling pages with words that mean nothing at all."

The QCA admitted the pages of the new curriculum had been filled with gobbledegook while they awaited curricular inspiration.

Which is much the same as the way some pupils fill the pages of their GCSE science exam papers.

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