A DRIVE has been launched to revive a classical education in state schools across Scotland.
Leading classics organisations have joined forces to promote the study of Latin and the history and culture of Ancient Rome and Greece.
Once a fundamental pillar of education, Latin has declined dramatically since the 1970s and now very few state schools offer it.
In 2013, just 218 candidates sat Latin at Higher compared to 243 the previous year. Only 48 pupils took Latin as an Advanced Higher.
In order to lead a revival the UK charity Classics for All, which provides grant funding to schools, opened a Scottish hub in September last year.
University and the charity’s Scotland representative, said the hub was seeking to introduce a Latin module aimed at primary school pupils.
It also wants to revise and update existing qualifications in Classical Studies for secondary school pupils and to work with university departments to reintroduce the subject as a specialism within postgraduate teaching qualifications.
He said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“We’re approaching councils across Scotland to try and get them on board to try and reintroduce classics into the curriculum.
“We are enjoying a lot of enthusiasm with the people we are speaking to, but it is early days and we need to get more momentum and spread the word even further.
“There are academic benefits with improvements to English and other areas of the curriculum and it is long overdue that we break the myth that classics is only for the elite or only for those who go to independent schools.”
Mr Imrie said he hoped the work of the hub would engender interest in classics at all levels.
He added:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“By involving universities who do teacher education we also hope to ensure there is an adequate number of trained professionals to nurture the next generation of classicists in Scotland.”
The project was discussed at a meeting at Glasgow University yesterday organised by Advocating Classics Education (ACE), which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. ACE is also seeking to extend classical subject qualifications across the secondary sector. Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, a research fellow in classics education at King’s College London and a member of ACE, said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“As a former teacher of classical studies in Scotland, I have witnessed first-hand the contemporary value and relevance of teaching it in secondary schools here.
“Students love exploring the rich diversity of daily life in the ancient world through qualifications available at all levels which include the study of literature, art, architecture, history and culture.
“A strong humanities subject in its own right, classical studies confers transferable skills such as critical literacy and cultural capital and helps cultivate the basic values of Curriculum for Excellence.”
The event was also attended by writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes, author of The Ancient Guide to Modern Life.
She said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“Classical studies at university is really the only subject where you can study a whole civilisation in one go with the study of history, philosophy, literacy, art and archaeology.
“It allows you to understand the workings of a society in a unique way which is also very relevant to the world today.”
Glasgow University is already working in partnership with Glasgow City Council to promote Latin.
Under the scheme, postgraduate students teach the language to pupils from primary schools in disadvantaged areas of the city. The council is now planning an expansion of the project.
The study of Latin has also been re-introduced to primary schools in Fife after a similar initiative by staff at St Andrews
Latin is the root of many modern European languages, such as French and Italian. English is a Germanic language, but has Latin influences.
Studies have shown an introduction to Latin can improve children’s ability to learn foreign languages, as well as improve literacy levels in English.
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