This month, Professor Dennis Hayes caused a divide within the educational community when he suggested that all state primary schools should teach the subject of Latin, and classics, as part of their curriculum. This comment comes as the government proposes that independent schools join forces with state schools, supporting them in giving disadvantaged children access to similar subjects, more commonly associated with fee paying educational institutions. The statement from Professor Dennis Hayes, expert from the University of Derby and Chair of the College of Education Research Committee, rejected this move, claiming that state schools should be able to offer these subjects of their own accord.
The case for classics
While it isn’t a compulsory part of every curriculum, Latin as a subject is not totally absent from all state schools, and it is reported to have recently made a surprising come back amongst many secondary state schools across the country. In a statement that was given to the Independent, Professor Dennis Hayes said that it would “transform education” if more state schools would offer Latin and Classics subjects, noting it was in danger of becoming the “preserve of public schools”. But why?
While the actual language of Latin is no longer spoken, enabling a child to learn such a complex new set of linguistic capabilities could bring with it a wide range of other transferable skills. For example, Latin places high value on correct grammar so by learning it, students could develop a deeper understanding of written rules and formats that can be applied elsewhere to their English studies. What’s more, it is suggested that children who learn a second language can also develop advanced cognitive capabilities, further assisting them throughout their educational career.
Could this be achieved in other ways?
However, the case against bringing back Latin and Classics argues that learning this subject does not benefit the future of the children. With the, highly competitive, workplace of the future favouring solid practical abilities or deep technical understanding, the lack of tangible skills taught when learning this extinct language, to some, mark this subject as unnecessary.
The integration of Latin and classics into state schools could be supported if the green paper from the government is successful, requiring independent schools to share staff and facilities with their neighbouring institutions, meaning that professors trained in the minority subjects could share their knowledge with the state school students.
What are your thoughts – is Latin a dying subject or is it the basis of a great education? Share your opinions with other parents across the country in our online forum.