Slow Down Krishna

St James School is teaching Sanskrit. On YouTube: here and here. Junior School books teach the stories of Krishna and Rama. Senior books one and two are available online, among other resources at ISER. More from the India Tribune and an interview with teacher Elena Jessup.

This is a fascinating endeavor and a useful template for the teaching of any classical language, incorporating culture and community. It’s true that classical languages provide excellent training in grammar. But most Latin and Greek textbooks currently in use are based on analytical grammars, providing an efficient and thorough overview of linguistic structure at the expense of vocabulary, syntax, and practical use. This is suitable for college-level study, which assumes fewer classes and greater independence on the part of the student. But an ideal middle or high school curriculum would make better use of class time to teach pronunciation, handwriting, vocabulary, conversation, and reading. No such curriculum really exists for Greek, though W.H.D. Rouse and other talented teachers have had great success with the Direct Method at the Perse School and elsewhere. Sanskrit, of course, is still more challenging, but these are precisely the challenges that primary and secondary school students ought to be tackling: learning to shape unfamiliar sounds and letters, chanting and reading stories, building an effective vocabulary, learning grammar inductively as well as systematically.

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