The essays of the late William Harris, professor of classics at Middlebury College, are archived on the college website under the title of Humanities and Liberal Arts. Of interest to Latin and Greek students: The Intelligent Person’s Guide to Greek and The Prolegomena to Latin. The index to Greek Language and Literature includes a good deal on Homer as well as commentaries on Sappho and Heraclitus.
Randy Gibbons provides a good overview of the books and methods available for self-teaching. Among the books now online are the 1887 edition of the Orbis Pictus of Comenius and Kendrick’s 1851 Greek Ollendorff.
W.H.D. Rouse was a pioneer of the Direct Method at the Perse School in England. Recordings here with a commendable effort at rendering the pitch accent. Rouse’s Greek Boy at Home, also available in a Focus reprint, seems to be catching on among speakers of Spanish here and here.
John Stuart Blackie seems to have spearheaded a revival of spoken Greek in Scotland: his Primer (1891) and Dialogues (1871) are glimpses into a vanished and contrafactual world where topics from ice-skating to Highland dress are open to discussion.
Mogyoróssy Arkád, alias Arcadius Avellanus, is rumored to have learned Latin before his native Hungarian. His textbook Palaestra was published serially from Williamstown, Brooklyn, and New York City between 1912 and 1919. He also translated Treasure Island into Latin as Insula Thesauraria. He has very strongly held and hostile opinions about German scholarship, but Palaestra has the feel of being written by a native speaker, with many insights into colloquial and practical use.
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.
Why do we drink wine? Maybe because we fear modernity. Dave McIntyre wonders why so many vintners come from a small liberal arts college in Annapolis. Meanwhile, Dr. M Ritchey and K. Mike Merrill talk about teaching the Platonic dialogues through sandwiches, and if you’re wondering about all those potatoes on Frederick the Great’s grave, Andrew Heaton has the answer.
And other reasons why St. John’s is a Top College.
Why do we care about liberal education? Maybe because we fear death. David Bromwich muses on the cost of college, the reflection theory of learning, and the desire for uniformity. There are better and cheaper ways of getting an education than attending a university that confuses physical presence with material splendor, or diversity of background with diversity of thought. But perhaps the deeper dilemma is this: in a society where how to live and how to earn a living are so radically divorced, no single method of education will be sufficient. The trend is for what is measurable, because what can be measured can be improved. But behind this lurks the same materialist assumption that builds the gleaming student centers and drives the advance of digital technology. What can be measured is also what can be bought, and economic interests have never yet baulked at doing violence to the soul. Convenience and uniformity come at the expense of students and teachers as much as do high college price tags. This is why liberal education matters: because there are some values that cannot be measured.
Sarah Bond and Matthew Neujahr on Ancient Tooth Dreams; Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry on Teaching the Liberal Arts to High Schoolers; Brian Cummings on Pindar and Football; Daniel Mendelsohn on Patrick Leigh Fermor; Katy Waldman on Tolkien’s Beowulf; Brad Leithauser on Reading Through Someone Else’s Eyes; Peter Kalkavage on Writing to Learn.