Why Latin? Part 1

Latin’s dead, it’s dead, it’s dead, as dead as dead can be. First it killed the Romans, now it’s killing me.
— Prof. Hans-Friedrich Mueller

In the not too distant past, Latin was an integral part of every middle school, and even elementary school, education. Why? Simple: it made you smarter. It made you think, it made you learn how to learn a difficult subject (no, Latin is not easy, but neither is it harder than any other language) and these skills – thinking, learning how to learn – that the child picked up along the way were transferrable to pretty much any other human endeavor worth doing. Today, in muchof the country, the teaching of Latin is making a comeback. Two of the highschools in my area offer multi-year programs. But what about middle and elementary schools?

A short search using your favorite engine will bring up a bunch of contemporary comments on why resuscitating (L. resuscitatus, stirring up again) the hoary practice of teaching Latin to children today, Anno Domini MMXVII, is a great idea. I've taken the liberty of cutting and pasting bits from one of them in purple. Please note, these are secular (saecularis, adv: worldly, not of the Church) educators, with no association (or apparent interest in) the Catholic Church. So, here goes:

 

Latin Grammar is the Best Grounding for Education

“But why should they learn Latin? Dorothy Sayers says it best:

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 50 percent.”
-- From the National Review .

 

Latin Helps With English Grammar

“While neither the language nor grammar of English derives from Latin, many of our grammatical rules do…” (Noto bene: tons of English words are derived from Latin as well, which has a lot to do with both improved SAT scores and general improvement in written, and oral (orare, v,: to pray, speak) communication – TC)

 

Latin Makes You More Careful in English

In Latin you have more to worry about than whether a plural pronoun refers to a singular noun (as in the politically correct - grammatically incorrect: each student has their own workbook).

In Latin there are 7 cases with which not only pronouns, but adjectives -- not to mention verbs -- must agree. Learning such rules makes the student careful in English.

 

Latin Helps You Maximize SAT scores

Through Latin, test takers can guess at the meanings of new words because they already know the roots and prefixes. But it's not just enhanced vocabulary. Math scores also increase.

 

Latin Increases Accuracy

This may be due to the increased accuracy Professor Emeritus William Harris notes:

"From another point of view, the study of Latin does foster precision in the use of words. Since one reads Latin closely and carefully, often word by word, this focuses the student's mind on individual words and their usage. It has been noticed that people who have studied Latin in school usually write quite good English prose. There may be a certain amount of stylistic imitation involved, but more important is the habit of reading closely and following important texts with accuracy."

 

There are even living Latin movements which have nothing whatsoever to do with the Church, but are all about the benefits of Latin with respect to education. So, I've taken this opportunity to link a couple of places where you can introduce your kids, and introduce (or re-introduce) yourself to pulchra et aeterna lingua Latina.

Memoria Press
Little Latin Readers
Latin 101 offered through The Great Courses
Seton Homeschool has a bookstore which has a ton of Latin resources (some, but not all, from Memoria Press listed above) which anyone can purchase, regardless of whether you are enrolled in the Seton homeschooling program.
Henle Latin is a very intense program, available through Seton and Memoria Press (and, I'm sure, other places.)
Rosetta Stone has a Latin program, interesting because it has a lot of Latin neologisms like computatoria.

Well, you get the idea. Latin is very much alive, and there's tons of resources out there.

Valete!