Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reaping a "Total Latin Harvest"

Lou Bolchazy on reconciling viewpoints regarding the perceived conflicts between literature/culture/history; grammar-oriented pedagogy method; oral/conversational method; and reading method in our Latin curricula:

"I believe that all four themes are desiderata in our teaching method. There is no conflict among them. Living in an increasingly global and multi-cultural community, we must know each other's history of ideas, beliefs, and culture to have the respect, empathy, and sympathy for other people. By reading an original passage, we learn all these things to a degree, and that is the humanistic value. When we come across an unknown word or an unknown syntactical-grammatical point in a reading, that is the time to teach the grammar and vocabulary, and to reinforce the vocabulary and grammar by means of transpositional exercises. Teachers and students can indulge in oral Latin drills and exercises to understand the word and its connotation, and using the materials in the original reading itself. (So far we have not deviated from good pedagogy-because we are learning grammar and culture, and reading passages, all in the original language.) The question is: how best to learn this grammar and vocabulary? By talking about it and doing drills in it, which are not connected to the original reading? That I do not recommend. Oral exercises based on the original reading allow students to review vocabulary and to practice the grammar they just learned. You can call it fusion or amalgamation of all these four desiderata, to be learned almost simultaneously.

Let's not forget to get beyond the borders of antique Latin language, culture, or conversational ability; we should move towards including post-classical Latin as well. Thus we will expand our horizons, increase our literacy, enjoy a total Latin harvest, be exposed to more forms of Latin communication, and project higher perceived value of Latin curriculum.)"