"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Latin and the Unit Study

I've begun teaching my children Latin this year. I hemmed and hawed about when to start, but decided until they had a very firm grasp on phonics and spelling, I could not start Latin. Since one of my children will be finishing Spell to Write and Read for the first time this Summer and another already has finished, we started Latin. I'm currently using Prima Latina by Memoria Press. It's a very nice introduction into Latin. My children will learn some basic prayers in Latin and get the beginnings of the Latin Grammar.

Do you know why late elementary school is called Grammar school? It is because, back in the 6th century, grammar schools were established by the monasteries to teach future priests Latin. Latin grammar that is. To understand the niceties of Latin grammar became the essential skill for aspiring young men. That was crushed and restructured after the Reformation. Eventually, it went back to the form where in children were taught Latin after they learned their phonics. In England, you took a test at the age of 11 to determine if you were "bright enough" to attend grammar school. The goal was to teach children Latin Grammar before they entered high school.

Latin is the basis of half of our language, the tough, four to five syllable word half. Once they learn Latin, they can better understand the language we use. Consider the word clamo in Latin. It means to cry out, claim, clamor or shout. It is the root of words like exclaim, proclaim, and acclaim. Then they understand what difficult words mean without having to go to the dictionary.

Next year we will be moving into Latina Christiana and Lingua Angelica from Memoria Press. I will actually be seeing how I can turn those two sources into Unit Studies because I know there is so much more there. Latin is the mother language of Western civilization. It has transmitted our cultural heritage for over 2,000 years, pulling together language arts, history, geography, culture, art, architecture, music, values, religion, government, science, and math. Everything seems to be related to Latin and the ancient and medieval cultures that spoke it. We'll be examining the roots of our culture in its mother language. I will be posting what I do in the Fall.

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