Head of Upper School and Latin

Mr M HalsteadPGCE, BSc (Hons)

VITA BREVIS, ARS LONGUS, LINGUA LATINUM AETERNA

            Life is short, Art long, but Latin lasts forever.

 

Latin is alive and thriving at Cranleigh Prep School. ‘Latin’ involves the study of both the Latin language and also cultural aspects associated with both the Romans and the Greeks.

The programme of study starts in Form 4 where the children are given an introduction to the subject before venturing into a two-year programme which will take them up to Common Entrance or Scholarship.

The aim is to make the subject as palatable and enjoyable as possible whilst aiming for the highest possible standards.

A frequently asked question is ‘Why do we still learn Latin?’ There is lots of compelling evidence to suggest that the study of Latin is an incredibly useful and rewarding endeavour.

I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this not because Latin is traditional and medieval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least 50 percent.

Dorothy L.Sayers from the National Review

There are a number of often quoted benefits to the study of Latin, which will be readily apparent, but an often neglected benefit is that Latin is just a little bit different and gets people to use their brains in a different way. Benefits include:

  • It is a fantastic basis for the learning of other languages particularly the Romance Languages
  • It also gives you an understanding of grammar which will give you a great foundation when learning any language.
  • It provides a discipline and rigour which helps to train the mind and the benefits of this are well documented and recognised in the US.       
  • THE STUDY OF LATIN also provides training in logical thinking, boosting cognitive processes essential for maths, science, and engineering. Latin has been said to ‘cultivate such mental processes as alertness, attention to detail, memory, logic, and critical reasoning’. Not surprisingly, Latin boosts SAT and GRE scores (out of 270 fields, Classics scored the highest mean Verbal GRE).
  • It introduces the children to the history and culture of two of the greatest ever civilisations.

A look at the success of some famous classicists suggest that there may be some use in the study of Latin. Evidence suggests that employers have respect for potential employees who have studied classical subjects at school or university. A survey by Friends of Classics also found that classical languages are an advantage in the workplace, even for those who study them for a few years before the age of 16. Many classics graduates have made a name for themselves in various fields, including JK Rowling, Boris Johnson and Mark Zuckerburg. Among other things, the study of classics encourages clarity of thought, attention to detail, and the ability to argue a case.

The Romans may have been around 2000 years ago but as Carlos Ruiz Zafón in The Shadow of the Wind said so beautifully:  “There’s no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds.”

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