To learn more about the ACE project, visit www.aceclassics.org.uk ; follow @ClassCivAncHist
Dr Catherine Rozier (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here at CWCH we are very excited to have joined a pioneering new project, led by Prof. Edith Hall of King’s College London, to promote the expansion of non-linguistic Classics in state schools across the UK. Swansea University is one of 16 project partners, each of which will hold a regional event to spread the word about the benefits and joys of studying Classical Civilisation and Ancient History. The project, called Advocating Classics Education (ACE), aims to encourage state secondary schools and sixth-forms to introduce qualifications in Classical Civilisation and Ancient History at GCSE and/or A-level. Maria Oikonomou and Catherine Rozier attended the project’s launch event at King’s College London on 1st July; we were bowled over by the sheer enthusiasm and verve of both Edith and Research Fellow Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, inspired by the successful experiences of Classics teachers from across the UK, and we felt spurred on to get planning for our partner event! Edith and Arlene will visit Swansea in early September to discuss our plans, and the event itself will be held on Friday 11th May. We’re planning a day of creative, interactive activities and talks, and we’ll be inviting teachers and pupils from secondary schools in Cardiff, Swansea and South Wales. Watch this space for more information!
To learn more about the ACE project, visit www.aceclassics.org.uk ; follow @ClassCivAncHist
Dr Catherine Rozier (email@example.com)
This year, we have had the opportunity to study Latin AS Level, thanks to funding from Swansea University and the British Academy. This has been a wonderful experience as we have had the rare privilege of studying Latin post GCSE and continuing our enjoyment of the subject. We have thoroughly enjoyed expanding our knowledge of Latin language, and having the chance to read Latin literature for the first time.
We have studied Cicero’s Pro Milone and Book VIII of the Aeneid, following the OCR AS Level course. Having to translate non-adapted Latin has been very challenging and a huge jump from what we were expected to do at GCSE. However, we have found it to be extremely rewarding, to manage translating such passages (even if it does take us a considerable amount of time!) and we have seen a great improvement in our grasp of Latin by doing this.
Studying Latin A’ Level has also given us the opportunity to look beyond the texts and to gain a better understanding of them by researching their historical context. We particularly enjoyed the literary analysis in studying Cicero’s Pro Milone, especially looking closely at the rhetorical techniques he uses to influence the jury.
We would like to say a big thank you to Swansea University Classics Department for the funding, and also to Leigh- Rowan who has helped us enormously with the Virgil.
Alys Williams and Patricia Dalangin, Bishop Vaughan Catholic School
It has been said that the key elements for a successful conference are comfortable accommodation, excellent food, plentiful drink, and great company; anything else by way of content is a bonus. Having battled through Siberian weather conditions to reach Gregynog Hall, we were delighted to find that the four elements were in place for the delegates on the CWCH Teacher Training Weekend. This was particularly welcome as other elements had almost prevented our arrival. However, with unbowed hearts and eager minds we gathered to learn about teaching Classics in school.
I once asked a group of Year 3 children how they would define 'learning'. One little girl said, 'Learning is ideas flowing round your brain.' This has been my working definition of learning for several years now, and if this girl was right then, this was a weekend of very high quality learning. From the outset, we had ideas flowing merrily around our brains, a fluidity which only increased as the course progressed. We teachers are fortunate to have frequent opportunities to engage in professional development courses. It is rare, however, to attend a course which provokes and inspires in the way this weekend did. The presentations were excellent, the mood relaxed and informal, the learning style open and thought provoking.
I did not learn any Classics in school, except for a very cursory glance at Roman history (cursory, probably, because in those days the Roman Empire was almost current affairs!) I have since learned a little New Testament Greek and am keen to learn more. This course inspired me, and gave me the confidence I need, to teach Classics, especially Classical languages, in school even though my own knowledge and skills are of a very low standard. Let's face it, much of what we teach in school, we do so from the one or two pages that the children haven't reached yet. (Our Year 5 and 6 are currently learning about the geography of Peru; it is amazing how much I have learned about Peru in the last few weeks!)
I would summarise the outcomes of this course in three points:
1. Teacher learning
I feel inspired to learn, and in learning, to teach. I have no Latin, but the resources we were introduced to on the course and the way they were demonstrated, made me realise that I could teach the children in my class as I learned with them. With the enthusiastic support of our headteacher, we now have short sessions that fit into the interstices of the timetable (for example, ten minutes before hometime) in which we learn Latin together. We are using the online version of the Cambridge Latin Course, which is extremely easy to follow, and which a number of children are now using at home and are further on than I am! Now it is getting really exciting, because those children sometimes teach the class in which I am a genuine pupil. (Deeply humiliating, as the children do not miss an opportunity to remind me not to call out, etc!) I wonder how much of the curriculum could be taught in this way? In some areas, the teacher will, by necessity, remain the authority on a particular topic or skill, but I wonder if learning together could be a model to explore beyond the boundaries of my limited Latin. What makes this so exciting for me is that I am not pretending for pedagogical effect, I really am learning with the children.
The children are so inspired by learning Latin that six of them asked if they could use one of their lunchtimes each week to learn Greek!
For the final half-term of the year, we are planning a Greek project. We are planning to learn some of the language and about the history, mythology, culture and characters of Ancient Greece. We are also hoping to stage an open-air Greek play (in English!) Bring your umbrellas.
2. Learning as enjoyment
Classics must regain its place in the mainstream curriculum. We were told about the effects of learning Latin on Literacy standards, and that is music to all teachers' ears, but (a big BUT)... Perhaps Classics could lead the way to a new, less utilitarian view of the curriculum, in which children engage with learning simply because it is enjoyable, life-affirming and a vital aspect of our growth as human beings. Put simply, because it is fun! This must surely be at the heart of learning, as we awaken to the fact that we no longer live in the industrial and imperial society in which our education system was founded and for which that system was designed to prepare children.
Children want to have fun (and so do I), and why shouldn't they (I). They love violent stories, bloodshed, larger-than-life characters, monsters, battles, treachery and deceit. Well, look no further! This stuff is better than Eastenders! I will never forget the sheer relish and bloodthirsty fervour with which a girl (Odysseus) in Year 4 once gouged out the eye of a terrified little boy playing Polyphemus. It was a truly hideous sight! They were acting, I should point out, but none of us felt entirely safe in her company after the experience!
3. Classics at the core
Further to both these points, a thought to ponder: since our knowledge and understanding of the world, the development of language and literature, art, mathematics and science, all arose and developed from the Classical world, how would it be if we placed Classics, not just in the curriculum, but at the very foundation of the curriculum. Would it, I wonder, be possible for children's educational development to follow the steps of humanity's development and begin with the Classical world? Peppa Pig on a long journey home during which she encounters problems and strange creatures, maybe. Who knows?
I am profoundly grateful to all the member of the training team, and the other delegates, who provided one of the most inspiring, thought provoking and enjoyable courses I have experienced. Thanks also to the staff of Gregynog Hall for their warm welcome and for providing the comfortable accommodation, excellent food, plentiful drink!
Written by Nigel Williamson
I decided to attend the weekend at the very last minute, after receiving an email to say there were still spaces available. I was able to attend last year's CWCH conference, but unfortunately unable to attend the teacher training in Cardiff due to in school commitments, so I was so pleased to be granted a bursary to be able to attend. It was absolutely fantastic to meet like-minded people who were interested in introducing Classics into their schools but, like me, weren’t quite sure how. This meant that we were able to talk about our schools and our personal plans for introducing Classics and as we took part in more and more talks over the course of the weekend the prospect of introducing Classics into our schools became so much more clear and achievable. I thoroughly recommend anyone who is even vaguely interested in Classics to attend any similar training events or conferences in the future. Everyone is so approachable and knowledgeable that it would be impossible to come away without feeling inspired!
One of the most useful and reassuring aspects of the weekend was Evelien’s talk about funding and its availability. The fear of starting a project with no funding was definitely putting me off asking for opportunities in my school. I felt that wanting to introduce Classical Studies in to a small comprehensive school with big literacy issues would be hopeless. Being able to access funding and show some strong signs of Latin supporting literacy has boosted my confidence tenfold! On Sunday evening when I got home I emailed the head of KS3 in my school and asked if we could start a transition project linking to Classics – it was a confident yes! Now I just need to get planning.
The weekend focused (quite rightly) on Latin and how to introduce it into schools. I still find this area a little bit daunting, but taking time to look closely at the Cambridge Latin Course and all the online resources has made me think that it could be possible. I am currently an NQT trying to find my way through teaching English in my first year. My comfort zone is rooted deeply in Classical Studies and I feel that it would be best for my school to start there and get the pupils interested before introducing Latin – although having discussed it with my colleagues it certainly is something we hope to do in the future with the support of Swansea University.
The whole weekend was framed beautifully in Gregynog Hall. It was an inspiring place to stay for the training and also a relaxed enough environment to be comfortable and talk freely. It was extremely exciting to see so many people from different areas of Wales and beyond interested in Classics. Hopefully we will be able to make the most of our links to share ideas, resources and fun projects.
I care deeply about Classics and if Gorseinon College hadn’t offered Classical studies I’m really not sure what I would have done after my GCSEs. My parents were incredibly supportive and I was lucky to receive the education I wanted for free. A small nagging part of my brain worries that my parents would have tried to educate me privately for 6th form just so I would have the chance to learn about something I was desperately interested in. I am not even sure if they would have been able to pay for private education – and it certainly wouldn’t be an option for the students in my school or Swansea in general. This is why I think it is hugely important to be able to offer students in Swansea the chance to experience Classics purely for enjoyment and learning’s sake – without a price tag. Yes, improving literacy will always be a priority and yes, we will need to justify the links to literacy in our schools but I loved Classics because of the monsters, the heroes and the heartbreak. If we can get pupils interested in a good story, or two, then literacy will surely follow.
Written by Bryony Green
Dr Evelien Bracke conducted a presentation on Classical Greek in Wales: The CWCH Classics hub during A Celebration of Greek Language and Culture Education in the UK, which was part of a series of events that were organised by Classics in Communities and held at the Hellenic Centre, London. A PDF document of the presentation can be found on our documents page, here.
Stephen Drury, Classics teacher at Cathedral School in Cardiff, has been teaching Latin through Minimus to local Year 6 pupils with the help of his Year 11 students, who took part in both large-group and small-group teaching. Here are some of his observations.
The class was very quiet but enjoyed the new pronunciation of words were every letter is sounded out. Discussion of who the Romans were, when they were in Britain and that their language helped to form our English today, came as a complete shock to a lot in the class – even the class teacher, who had never thought of the origin of “exit”. Despite the exercise in Minimus were students ask “quis es?” replying with “ … sum” – the idea of learning a language that they won’t be able to speak left a number of the students very bemused.
More and more students were volunteering to read out-loud and even to offer translations of the exercises in Minimus. (Surprising the Yr.6 teacher, who is now becoming less sceptical…) I explained that I like the Romans because they are just like us, and learning Latin is my way of getting nearer to them. We looked carefully at the Birthday Party invitation – this clearly surprised the class! In lesson 4, the Yr.11 students themselves delivered a lesson to the class with the aim of writing their own Latin birthday party invitation (with the help of the worksheet in Minimus teacher’s handbook).
When looking at sentences, pupils could identify nouns and verbs because of their position in a sentence, even identifying “sum” when it isn’t at the end. This in itself felt very successful, especially as they were learning conversations that had previously been unfamiliar to them. The concept of endings is still a mystery to them, so I held off the differences between Subject and Object for now. The Greco-Roman myths are exceptionally popular!
Defining an adjective and knowing what it was took a little longer than expected. The pupils understand what descriptions are, but the abstract title “adjective” took quite a bit of processing. However, using the Minimus exercises, the pattern of nouns and adjectives agreeing because of gender-endings has been something the pupils can recognise, translate and apply quite comfortably. Masculine and feminine endings are very secure in the pupils’ understanding – even raising queries and questions – these are the details the pupils are beginning to look at more and more.
(Homework set for over the half-term: research the motto of Hogwarts school – what it is, possible meaning?)
It is really pleasing that these Yr.6s know to look for patterns, even if they don’t know them yet. When explaining the present tense endings, an overlap with sum could be seen and there was a “light bulb” moment for a number in the class. I was particularly pleased that their recognition of singular and plural endings was clear (one, more than one letter), but only a proportion of the class could see it in words. Daedalus and Icarus is a popular myth – they knew a lot about this story beyond what we read.
A written task was set using facio, specto and intro (for Minimus), but with other person-endings too. A very successful exercise – with the board accessible for reference too. The students’ understanding of grammar is getting there. Our discussion of “slavery” proved to be quite a challenge though!
Considering the success of the project, Cathedral School Year 10 students will teach Latin at the same primary school next year.
Written by Stephen Drury, teacher at Cathedral School, Llandaff
The Storify of the first annual CWCH conference can be found here: https://storify.com/nimuevelien/cymru-wales-classics-hub-first-annual-conference.
Evelien Bracke contributed as a panel member for the Classics in Schools round table discussion at the Classical Association Annual Conference in Edinburgh that took place in April 2016. A document on Classics in Wales that was used at the conference can be accessed on our documents page, here.
Congratulations to Meiros Richardson who won the Most Innovative Teacher Award at our first annual conference. Well done!
Jess Fallon and Leigh-Rowan Herring represented us at the British Academy Schools' Language Awards (BASLAs). We are apparently the first Classics project to get an award!
I have been teaching Latin to a group of 9 senior students from the University of the Third Age for 2.5 years. We have been using the Cambridge Latin Course which they have thoroughly enjoyed. Four of the group decided to take the Level 1 GCSE examination in 2015, run by WJEC. I am delighted to say that they all achieved A*.
After their success in Latin, most of them requested to start learning Classical Greek which they have now been doing for the last three months. Several of them hope to take GCSE in the future. I have been using An Introduction to Classical Greek by Kristian Waite and Fred Pragnell. We shall then move on to John Taylor’s Books 1 & 2 – Greek to GCSE and eventually begin our study of Greek literature.
I am also now a Subject Advisor for Classical Greek for the U3A throughout England and Wales so I shall do as much as possible to promote the subject.
It is very gratifying to realise how popular Classics has become in Wales through all age ranges. I am now in fact teaching from 9 years old to 79, both in the classroom and on skype! Long may it continue!
Guest blog post written by Steve Addis
We now have a mailing list! Follow this link: https://mailman.swan.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/classicsinwales to subscribe.
Look at this feature in WalesOnline! http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/could-latin-set-comeback-welsh-10508958_
They picked up on the various activities we are promoting. Great news!
We were also in the Sunday Times of 29 November:
Written by guest blogger Laurence Totelin.
Why learn Latin or Greek? Aren’t those languages as dead as dodos? These are legitimate questions, and teachers of Latin and Greek should be prepared to answer them. One possible answer is that both languages are still partly alive because many words we use derive from Latin or Greek.
I am an Ancient History lecturer and formal language teaching is not a significant part of my work. On the other hand, I very often encourage my students to learn the etymology, the origin, of words. I believe etymology can help them learn new – often complex – English words and their selling. It can also give students a taste of language learning.
If I am so enthusiastic about etymology it is because it has helped me personally. I have always struggled with spelling. So many words appear to be have such arbitrary spellings. I know that many of my students face the same problem. With the years, I have learnt to tame the spelling beast, and etymology has helped me in this ‘fight’.
Last week, I was trying to spell the complicated word ‘aborigine’. I suddenly had an epiphany: of course 'aborigine' is simply a transliteration of the Latin expression ab origine, from the origin; aborigine people are those who have lived in a country as far as memory goes. Now that I have finally realised this, I will never again misspell this word, especially if I pronounce it the Latin way in my head. No doubt, I will now look for any opportunity to drop this word in lectures – students be warned – and explain what it means. I may even bring in a mini grammar lesson and explain that ‘origine’ is an ablative…
Only yesterday, I used etymology in one of my classes. We came across the word ‘androgyne’, another difficult word to spell or even to understand. And yet, the meaning of the word could not be simpler when we know that it is the sum of two Greek words, one meaning ‘man’ (‘andro’, from anēr, genitive andros), the other meaning ‘woman’ (‘gyne’ from gunē). An androgyne is someone who mixes both male and female traits. Simples!
Admittedly ‘aborigine’ and ‘androgyne’ are not the most common English words, but these are words that will appear in novels and newspaper articles. A basic knowledge of Latin and Greek can help us gain a deeper knowledge of our own language(s).
Ancient Botany: http://www.tandf.net/books/details/9780203458358/
I have been working on promoting Classics in Wales for the past six years now. I love introducing classical cultures and languages to primary school pupils particularly (see the website which my students and I have created with resources); it's great to see how willing they are to engage with the ancient contexts.
Setting up the Cymru Wales Classics Hub is in a way the culmination of the work I've been doing in the past years, as it brings together various strands of engagement. At the same time, it's also a new step in an unknown direction: it's been exciting sitting down with passionate teachers from across Wales to discuss how we can take things further. The first two events we've organised will provide a forum for those interested in Classics in Wales, and I'm looking forward to gathering thoughts and coming up with new ideas.
We couldn't even have come this far without the hard work some of my amazing students have been doing over the past months. A special thanks goes to Steph Leech, Cassidy Phillips, Geraldine Gnych, and Lewys Zastapilo for designing the website and posters and liaising with speakers, always with a smile!
Watch this space!
Written by Evelien Bracke
This blog features posts by members of CWCH. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact Evelien Bracke (firstname.lastname@example.org).