Why classics are just classic

16th June 2006 at 01:00
I have received a flood of supportive messages from the educational community as a result of "Classics for the masses", (TES, June 2) about my project to revive classics in state schools.

Many have asked me to respond to the question of why Latin and Ancient Greek should be offered in schools. The following are the key reasons: Pupil interest. Classics is a wonderfully broad discipline, encompassing the technicalities, idioms and nuances of the languages; the exciting histories of the ancient world; the cultural studies of their mythology and religion; their ways of living; and classical literature, art and architecture.

Cultural relevance. Many aspects of our lives today can be traced back to the ancient world - whether it be our political and judicial systems, Aristotelian methods of thinking, the educational reforms outlined in Plato's Republic. Our literature is also littered with references to classical works and history. Classics provides a way to understand why things are as they are today. I cannot think of a more important educational aim.

Linguistic ability. Learning Latin and Ancient Greek helps pupils learn other languages, and their complexity and logic are fantastic training for the mind. Such training does not, I believe, happen in modern languages, where the emphasis is on communication rather than linguistic analysis.

Understanding of English. Latin and Greek help me to work out what words mean and from where they derive. They therefore help me to understand and use language to the best effect.

I am happy to respond to more questions about this project. I also would like to thank those who sent messages of support.

Dr Lorna Robinson

Wellington college



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