Here, in two parts, is an anonymous response to the story about that Latin teacher published here a few days ago. The responder is also a Latin teacher.
This is part 1:
I wanted to respond here to this post as it resonates so clearly with me. While I don’t know who this teacher is, I know that she is suffering because I too am suffering. This post describes what has been happening to me for the past 3 years. 3 years of certain kids and parents refusing to get on board to what I was doing. It all came to a head last week. One of my traditionally trained kids decided to drop my class. She didn’t communicate that she was dropping nor had she tried to be a part of my class. She went to the principal and complained and because she is a “good” kid, the principal believed her. She bemoaned that she wasn’t learning anything new in the class and that it was beneath her. The reality is that she didn’t want to engage with CI. She is interested in linguistics and the analytic aspects of language. I know because that’s the way I a taught her in her first 3 years.
These group of kids like the teacher above describes can never be convinced. Their goal is to lord themselves over the other kids. Their goal is to show how much better there are than the others. It reminds me so much of Agamemnon in the Iliad when he tells Achilles that he is taking his prize so that Achilles will understand how much better he (Agamemnon) is than Achilles. Many of these kids pride themselves on this idea. Moreover, they think that conscious knowledge of rules and exceptions and meaning of vocabulary is what language is. They don’t realize that even Latin is the negotiation between two humans. Whether it is between two Latin speakers or with those who have penned the their ancient wisdom. This dialogue is what makes language learning so important. Without this communicative aspect, we have nothing but bits of knowledge that we can use to separate the haves from the have-nots.
These kids and their parents brought out the ultimate trump card last week. They paraded out the well-worn, haggard word RIGOR. They insisted that my class wasn’t rigorous enough. They put forward as evidence the SAT II test in Latin as evidence that my class was failing to teach the students what they needed to know. FYI, one of these kids indicated that she wanted to take said test and I told her that we would have to do some work outside of class if she wanted to score well. This kind of test prep isn’t what we do in class. She never came.
I told my admin that we have never used the SAT II test as a litmus for our program nor have we even vetted it as a good measure of our program. Furthermore, the test is not a reading or language proficiency test. It is based on learned knowledge of grammar rules and their exceptions. It is mired in conscious knowledge about the language. I was happy to help my students succeed on this test, but none of them was ready to come to do the extra work.
Enough other classes are test prep, we don’t need to add Latin to that mix. My goal is that they gain true ability in reading, writing, speaking and listening to Latin. I want them to come away with a true language experience. I also want everyone to have the opportunity to experience the right to acquire another language just as the human mind was meant to do. However, the smartest, fastest processing kids don’t want to show up and be real. They want to get their worksheets and do their work so that they can get easy A’s. They want to take tests and win contests so that it looks good for their transcripts.
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could