Monday, 8 June 2009

No, but seriously...

Why did I do Latin GCSE? What did I hope to gain?
Aw man...
Look what revision did! Made me so bored I actually wrote on this!
So.... What's happening?



Cooperweb said...

Well if you're that bored, I suppose you could always go take Sam out of the closet and rake the leaves with him?

Fernando said...

Hey! What a surprise, Green Lantern! :)

How are you? I've missed you!

Yes, Sam, I do agree with you: Latin is boring, but it is also unnecessary in the GCSE Curriculum. It could be useful for higher levels (maybe a specialisation in grammar).

What’s happening in schools? We are in the twenty-first century already; Latin hasn’t been the language of the Empire for a long time!
Until the eighteenth century, Latin was something similar to what the English is today.
However, not everyone had the same access to Latin, because it was the language of culture and educated elites.
Scientific and political treatises would be written in this language. If a British scholar wanted to communicate something to the world, he would write a book in Latin (Francis Bacon wrote his 'Novum Organum’ in Latin about 1620).

Today, the language that you must to learn in order to communicate with the rest of the world is just your mother tongue (you’re a lucky person). However, if I want to communicate with the world I must learn English - as Bacon had to learn Latin (I'm not comparing myself with Bacon, but I always wanted to have his hats... :)

I think these subjects have only just survived, and are a real drag nowadays, traditions which no one dares to stop. They should update the school curriculum. They should replace it with relevant and applicable content.

Anyway, Latin should play an important role in the study of the history of the English Language. English belongs to the Anglo-Frisian group within the family of Germanic languages. This means that its grammatical structure isn't derived from Latin (unlike Spanish or Italian).

However, if you study the history of your language, you’ll see that English has been influenced by Latin in two stages:
1) by contact with the Roman Empire,
2) by St. Augustine's evangelization during the Middle Ages. There are many suffixes and words which are derived from Latin: sensi(bilis) --> sensi(ble); viol(entia) --> viol(ence); cre(at)um --> cre(ate).

This may be relevant for those who want to learn the history of the English language. It's not at all necessary for anyone to learn Latin, unless you want to become the Pope.
Latin is a dead language, but apparently they haven't yet buried it. It's a kind of zombie language... Just look at Benedict XVI's face (LOL - with all my respect).

Maybe you could meet with some friends and write a letter to the directors. What the school teaches is not always a sacred truth; you have the right to question it.
Maybe they’ll listen to your proposal and (hopefully) next year Latin could become an elective class.

Okay, that’s all I have to say! Sorry for this long speech.
I hope to read more posts from you often.


cycyg said...

instead of confirming his doubts, you should better motivate him to stay the course.

Fernando said...

Maybe you're right, Cycyg, but I don't feel that it is a question of motivation (also, he hasn't any doubt). I mean, saying to Sam that Latin is a significant subject at GCSE level would be giving him a dishonest answer - and I don't want to lie to him.

In my opinion, Latin doesn’t give the necessary knowledge to contribute to Sam's general education. It is a subject used for specific purposes – it would possibly be relevant in the context of the grammar and linguistics studies.
The reason why the schools still preserve Latin in their curriculum is merely for tradition and institutional prestige.

I think that those who design the courses should be more democratic and include students, allowing them be part of the curriculum design.
Sam should be able to choose and have the free will to judge what he's studying. A school shouldn't ignore the fact that students feel that what they are studying is not useful, don't you think?

Cooperweb said...

Sam ... Tom ... LATIN RAP BATTLE!!!

cycyg said...

I don't know the UK educational system.
I just remember my thoughts about Latin when I was in class 10 and fought a desperate battle against Caesar lol.

Since he had chosen Latin, I thought he attends something like a Highschool, which in Germany is the preparation for university (classes 5 - 13, passed class 10 is automatic a GCSE degree, 11-13 is US-College level).
Students decide what kind of Highschool they attend, e.g. Humanistic-Lingual (English+Latin+3rd language) or more Math-Scientific oriented (English + 2nd language + Physics.

Or they decide to attend a lower kind of Highschool (German: Realschule) which ends after class 10, followed by a vocational school, then indeed I agree with you. In that case one modern form of vulgar-Latin would have been enough.

I disagree about your opinion about Latin and that it wouldn`t be necessary for a British student to learn another language.


Fernando said...

«Haec ego non multis scribo, sed tibi: satis enim
magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus»


Okay. I'm not underestimating Latin, Cycyg. I also studied it in school. I think the problem lies in how it has structured the education system on all its levels. Some universities still conserve a traditional paradigm. So, it is necessary that schools incorporate Latin as a rudiment knowledge for survival in higher education.

Some linguists argue that Latin can be supportive for those who want to learn a romance language, like Spanish (although I don't know how they can find such ‘romanticism’ in a ridiculous guy with a mask and a cape like Antonio Banderas – LOL).

However, I endorse the views of Noam Chomsky - he believes that taking a course of models of universal grammar, in which you learn the classification of formal languages, will allow you to understand a language as a potential between a series of principles and parameters. According to his theory, a language is a series of choices among a set of potential syntax distributions and morphological possibilities. This makes learning Latin a vain effort.

Anyway, this is my position, and I value yours. I also respect the history and tradition of European education systems (in my country it is very similar).

About the other point; it's clear that an English-speaker doesn't need /require something because it is essential/ to learn a second language. Of course, it's important for his cultural enrichment, but it’s not an imperative for his development and educational survival. It's not a prerequisite, as it could be for you and for me to learn English.

Okay, I don't think Sam is interested in a word of this 'dispassionate battle' - I wouldn't want him feel left out.

Cheers Cycyg!

PS. Guys, did the upload not work again? Well, don't worry, there's no rush.

Goshdarn said...

Yeah, I'm afraid Toms internet is down at the moment...
But guys, wow. I'm done with latin now (I've done all my GCSEs now) but ha! That was a cool argument!


Fernando said...

Cool argument? Really?
Well, if you say so… it must be 'cool' (sometimes I doubt the meaning of this word)… :)
Anyway, the most important thing is that you've completed your GCSEs!

Well done Sam, congratulations!

Now I hope you get the results you're expecting.

So yeah, have loads of fun during these next few months. Happy holidays!