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ginlindzey

August 2017

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This morning I participated in an online meeting for developing the framework for the new certification test for Latin.  When the ExCET was put in place in 1987 it was supposed to have an oral Latin component.  A framework for an oral examination was developed but never put in place for fear that it would be the hurdle that would keep otherwise qualified Latin teachers out of teaching.  I have always been a loud, vocal proponent for the oral examination framework being used.  I'm usually shouted down.  

There was a time, back before the mold in the house and the gang fights at Porter and the move to teaching at Dripping and my son's minor emotional problems turning major, that I thought about and wrote about and spoke about changes that need to be made in teacher preparation.  I'm trying to think why now...why was I so driven?  I guess because I had watched several middle school Latin programs close in the Austin area within a few years of each other.  One school in particular that actually managed to stay open went through several teachers before they found someone stable to keep the program going.  One teacher was new, green.  Nice guy and probably knew his Latin, but had no experience with CLC and probably wasn't truly teacher material.  And I think people saw and knew this during his student teaching.  The next teacher just wasn't suited to middle schoolers and left under, well, unfortunate circumstances.  What both of these people had in common was a love of Latin, but not a love of teaching or students. 

Teaching is a hard job, one of the most difficult and challenging jobs around.  You have to want this.  It isn't about how much you love Latin.  It's about how much you love teaching Latin.

Anyway, I suppose it was after those incidents that I started to seriously consider teacher training issues.  Discussions ensued at CAMWS, TCA, ACL and other places...wherever teacher training was discussed.  We discussed all the problems that many had experienced with their own college Latin classes/curriculum.  We discussed what prevents colleges from teaching the courses future teachers need most. 

Numbers, of course always plays a key roll.  Even in large classics departments, like UT, only a couple of students a year are declared as future teachers.  You can't provide courses for just two people.  You can't change curriculum for so few.  And I once wrote proposals for how someone who declares to want to teach could help themselves and how their professors could help, even if the choice of authors provided in a given semester couldn't be changed.    But I didn't mean to go into that now.

This was supposed to be about oral Latin, especially since it looks like we may well be getting an oral component now to the new certification test.  Finally.  I never thought I'd see the day.

So, what do you do if you are, for instance, changing career and getting certified and haven't been exposed to oral Latin of any sort in a long time?  Or, what do you do to train yourself?  Or, how would I conduct an oral Latin workshop?

I have my pronunciation worksheets and such that I do at the beginning of the year.  Are they a good thing?  Are they just the thing that gets my students a stage/chapter behind everyone else's? 

But if I were to do a workshop...  (this is all just thinking outloud, seemingly useless since I know it will probably be some time before I could ever do such a thing)...  or if I were to advise someone who needs to work on their oral Latin skills, what would I do?  What would I tell them?

Start with truly working to understand how to divide and accent a word if you don't have someone who can model the Latin for you.  Of course there are various online pronunciation guides and audio files now, with Wheelocks being at the top of the list as far as quality. 

But after that, it's practice.  Practice doing everything out loud.  Get a Latin 1 book, esp one with a lot of stories like CLC or Lingua Latina, and read outloud.  All the time. 

I suppose, though, that just reading even English outloud has to be a comfortable thing for a person.  And I suppose I'm just rambling aimlessly now, having lost my purpose and train of thought while my mind is racing with thoughts of how much I have to grade or how much quia there is to do, etc etc. 

Anyway.  I suppose I'm just glad that we are going to see changes in the certification test.  I just want to be thinking and ready for those who are going to want help in mastering their oral Latin for the section on that. 
I answered a 10 question interview last night and got permission to post it here.

***

> Here goes with the 10 questions...hope they're to your liking.
> There's no rush on getting back with the responses...we have almost a
> month until deadline. I am looking forward to reading what you have
> to say! - Jacque
>
>
> What inspired you to start playing cards in Latin, and what benefits
> have you and your students realized from it?

I grew up playing cards with my grandmother and great aunts, not to mention siblings and cousins. Now that I have children of my own, I have used playing cards to work on social skills as well as to have something fun to do for the whole family that does not involve the television set or the computer.

I started researching card playing in Latin when it occurred to me that cardinal numbers are adjectives, but the numbers on cards are not. We say, "I have 3 kings" as well as "I have 3 tens." The numbers, in this case, are nouns. From there I began to do a little digging and discovered the Ludus Chartarum colloquia by Ioannes Lodovicus Vives, written in the 1500s.

I based many but not all of the card names/numbers from vocabulary in this dialogue, which can be found at http://www.grexlat.com/biblio/vives/21_Ludus.html. I dropped the Greek words, added appropriate Latin equivalents, and made it user-friendly with a few handouts which can be found at http://www.txclassics.org/ginny_lindzey.htm.

I have used playing cards in Latin for a Latin club activity, which many enjoy. I have also used it for ALL LATIN days during Latin week. In class I introduce it when we hit accusative plurals in CLC because it is a great way to hear/use those accusative plurals. You are constantly saying things like, "habesne ullos biniones?" or "habesne ullas reginas?" You also get practice with changing your verb to agree with you or the person you're speaking two. For instance, "habesne ullos septeniones?" "non habeo. i piscatum!"

I personally believe that the more you speak Latin and use Latin, the better you'll be at reading it. With that said, trying to have a Latin conversation is often daunting, if not impossible. It's hard to find something meaningful to say, let alone intelligent. BUT if you are playing cards and have your basic card-playing vocabulary handy, you have a built in comfort zone. As a beginner, you can just stick to the script--asking for cards, replying when asked, etc. Once you feel more confident, you can stretch yourself a bit to announce when you have a book of four cards: "ego librum reginarum habeo!" aut "tu librum regum habes." You can work on tenses: "duas reginas habebam; nunc tu tres reginas habes."

I could go on. In fact, there's no reason why a clever teacher couldn't script additional phrases to target certain grammatical concepts. Surely an ablative absolute or two could be worked in, or perhaps a purpose or result clause? The possibilities are endless--and it makes for a great break from regular book work.

> Other than playing cards, what's your favorite activity to do with
> students?

I love to read to them and with them. I love to teach reading skills and how to read like a Roman. And then I want to read to them again. I am a dramatic fool, no question, and that probably goes back to my JCL days. (National champ in dramatic interpretation for 3 years straight in the 1980s.)

One of my best days with my Latin 2/3 split level class last year was when we hit Catullus 13. Here it is:

Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster cenabis bene;
nam tui Catulli plenus sacculus est aranearum.
sed contra accipies meros amores
seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque,
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis
totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

I knew the Latin 3's had already "covered" the poem with their previous teacher, but assumed that they had just been told to "translate it." So I invited them to join us and revisit the poem.

First I read the poem to them, then I had them read it with me. I asked them whether they had picked up much. (No.) So I read the first line again, and we translated it. Then we read it again and added the 2nd line, and translated that. Again we reread what we had "translated" in the Latin and added the next line, always being mindful of the word order, of emphasis, etc. Each time we'd reread the Latin, I encouraged them to read it expressively, especially since they now understood what the words meant. And so we continued until done with the poem.

On the next day the students had to transcribe the poem onto an unlined sheet of paper using Roman graffiti/cursive script (I use the Pompeii Graffiti booklet from ACL) BUT with at least THREE CHANGES in the poem. This is sort of a controlled composition project and perhaps not as challenging as it could have been, but I was new to these students and they were new to me. Many students changed the name (Fabullus) for someone else (usually in the class), what that person was bringing (I believe one had orders to bring a brawny young man), and what the sacculus was full of--things like that.

It was a fun project that had a two-fold result: 1) I had student work to put on my walls, and 2) the students virtually had the poem memorized by the time we were finished with it--memorized IN LATIN, not in English.

This last was very important to me. I don't want my Latin students to spout English translations of poetry; I want them spouting the Latin!

> You have made some lovely posters and other items for Latin teachers.
> How did you get started with that?

Several things just happened to fall into place. First, I had spent several years doing desktop publishing work in an office (unrelated to teaching) that gave me some basic skills. Second, Santa brought me a large color printer one year for Christmas. One thing just led to another. Once I had developed posters and things for myself, I had to share them with others. It's what we Latin teachers do. And besides, I was tired of there being very little in the way of classroom decorations for Latin. If I had more time, I would design more--tons more. It just takes thumbing through a catalog of Spanish and French posters to realize what I could make for Latin. Perhaps if I had a clone?

>
> If you had to choose, what would be your favorite piece of Latin
> literature?

Wow. That is so difficult. And it so depends upon my mood. I am very fond of Martial, who I think is underestimated by many. I highly recommend a new book, _Martial: The World of Epigram_ by William Fitzgerald, which demonstrates how rich and complex Martial's books of epigrams were. I have been known to find an epigram that I like and to rewrite it (much like the Catullus poem above) to suit my mood or current life issue. Or, I'll spend time writing a double dactyl translation. Let me give you an example:

Martial I. 64

Bella es, nouimus, et puella, uerum est, et diues, quis enim potest negare?
Sed cum te nimium, Fabulla, laudas,
nec diues neque bella nec puella es.

Higgledy Piggledy
Cutie Fabulla, you're
Obviously beautiful
Rich, too, we see;
But when you praise yourself
Hyperpersistently
Rich, young and beautiful
Hardly you be.

Martial can be fun; he can be a great break from the serious world. He's also great to read when you're angry at someone because while we are fairly well-behaved, Martial will say what's on his mind.

But sometimes Catullus speaks volumes to me, the romantic; and then I might read some Ovid with a student and rediscover how much I love Ovid. I read Cicero's Pro Archia summer before last for the first time and found it truly enjoyable. Then I look up at the teenagers in my room and start reciting "odi et amo" in my head....

So don't make me choose, please, because if I had to tell you what bit of Latin has been going through my head today, I'd have to confess it's "olim lacus colueram...." (from the Carmina Burana, and yes, I'm singing it in my head).

>
> What people have had the greatest influence on your decision to become
> a Latin teacher, and on how you teach Latin?

My decision to become a Latin teacher was greatly influenced by the two teachers I worked with in high school. Doris Kays was my Latin teacher, friend, and mentor. I lost my mater secunda when she passed away last year and I miss her. The other teacher who greatly influenced my decision to become a teacher is Bob Hicks. He's now a lawyer in San Antonio, but he was the person who worked with me on my dramatic interpretations for JCL competitions. I would not be in the classroom today if it were not for these two people. But I have to also pay my dues to Dexter Hoyos and the correspondence we had in the mid 1990s about reading versus decoding. I wasn't teaching at the time (and had only taught for one year some half dozen years before that and had run away screaming). Our conversations led me to identify what I felt I had done wrong in my own education. If I had had his book, _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_ (from CANE), perhaps I would have gone on to graduate school. Quite honestly, I didn't think I was gifted enough with Latin at the time to cut it in graduate school, and since no one told me otherwise I assumed I was right. And sadly, all I needed was this book.

>
> You taught middle school for several years, and have recently moved to
> high school. How have you found the transition?

I have found it challenging in regards to the demands on my time. People used to always ask me how I got so many things done. It was easy: I was teaching part-time (not even full time) at a middle school: exploratory Latin, Latin 1a, and Latin 1b. Nothing terribly demanding. Now I have 3 Latin 1 classes, a split level Latin 2/3 with an independent study Latin 4, plus 2 sections of sophomore English. It's a full time job 30 minutes away from my house. I never get ANYTHING done now! (And lots of people are upset with me because of it!) I tell myself that each year will be a little easier once I get used to teaching high school.

I truly love teaching at Dripping Springs. Drippin', as we call it, is a town southwest of Austin, soon to be overrun (sadly) by Austin. There's still a lot of small town feeling out there, but there's also a demand for the best that education can offer. The students in Drippin' are high achievers and go-getters; the administration is fantastic as are the people in central office. I highly respect our superintendent too. How many teachers can say that? This year will be our first contest year--and I'd be surprised if students didn't bring back ribbons and trophies. These kids inspire me to be better for them. They are amazing.

>
> You're also teaching English now, right? Has working in another
> subject influenced the way you approach your Latin classes?

English hasn't truly influenced how I teach Latin or vice versa, really. I feel barely competent at teaching English and barely one step ahead. But I have a knack for breaking things down so that *anyone* can understand it. We use a style of writing based on the Jane Schaeffer Writing Program, I believe, that utilizes "one-chunks" for short answer essays. Apparently I am really good at explaining how to write this beast referred to as the "one-chunk" and have had students tell me that they understood what to do for the first time after I explained it.

When I attended an AP workshop this summer, I remember thinking how I could potentially start working in short answer essays in Latin 3 to prepare for AP Latin, and that I could teach students to write them as one-chunks (at least to begin with).

But I confess, I am looking forward to not having English classes, and if my program continues to grow, I shouldn't be teaching Latin next year. Last year when I came to Drippin', I had 13 students in Latin 1. Currently I have 75. That's a huge leap.

>
> If you could have a lasting effect on one aspect of how Latin is
> taught, what would it be?

That's an easy question. (However, is this one aspect?)

First, all college Latin programs would require that all undergrads take a Reading Latin Lab 101 course--a one hour a week course to teach reading skills and pronunciation. Orberg's _Lingua Latina_ would be the text (at least to begin with), and students would learn to let go of the dictionary and the grammar text and just READ from left to right as well as to read EXTENSIVELY (instead of just inclusively). Students would practice accurate pronunciation via reading out loud, learning how to question and reply in Latin, etc.

This step alone should make reading large amounts of Latin manageable and enjoyable, instead of smaller doses, parsed to death. This would also prepare the future teacher to deal with whatever is lacking in his/her degree coursework.

Universities cannot limit their course offerings to what we teach in high school. It would be dull and I would want no part of it. On the other hand, we have future teachers who graduate with a degree in Latin having never read one or more of the major authors taught in AP Latin. I propose that all declared future teachers should be required to purchase a set of all the AP authors. Then, with advice from the current instructor, the future teacher should complement his/her current Latin course with an appropriate AP author. Papers for the course could be focused on a comparison/contrast sort of thing. Reading the extra lines outside of class shouldn't be a major problem after the reading lab 101 course.

Thus no future teacher would graduate unprepared to step into an AP class; no future teacher would graduate who could not properly pronounce Latin (one of my pet peeves, admittedly). It's time we stop sending unprepared teachers out into the classroom, even if unintentionally.

>
> Do you have a favorite archaeological site in the ancient world?
>

I haven't seen enough yet. I've been to Pompeii, Ostia, Rome, and Capri. I thoroughly enjoyed Pompeii and would have liked another day or two to explore it. I also thought I would happily live on Capri if I had a good internet connection. And if Vesuvius erupted during my life (as surely it will), so be it! FATO, as the people of Naples say. I have also been to ruins in England--London, Bath, Fishbourne Palace, and Hadrian's Wall. Each offers something unique, but if I had to pick one, put me in Pompeii.

> Teaching, family life, making posters and T-shirts, JCL...How do you
> find time for it all?!

I don't. I truly don't. I drop the ball on one thing to do whatever currently has my attention. I enjoy writing to unwind, so tonight I'm doing this interview. I should be grading. I multitask to the point of absurdity--but surely other mothers out there understand grading papers while at a child's tennis lessons or speech therapy? This summer I worked on some detailed vocab flashcards for my split level Latin class while watching my youngest play his favorite new computer game. I was able to spend time with him and get some work done. But of course, sometimes I chuck it all and just join in the game he's playing.

My friend and favorite author, Lindsey Davis, once said (JOKINGLY!) that to be a successful author you need to kill off your family. No one else should suffer for your art! I sometimes think I could do truly brilliant things in the classroom if I didn't have my family. But of course, I wouldn't trade my husband and two boys, Jonathan and Tobin, for anything. And to have both worlds there have to be sacrifices. Luckily, I think I have enough passion in me for both Latin and family, and if I drop the ball on the rest, I'm guessing all the other parents out there will understand.
***



I then sent her a post script:



***

When I was talking about Martial, I was thinking about one poem I had copied and revised to suit my mood. You needn't include this, but it was bugging me because I wasn't sure what spiral I had written it in. I found it:

Martial III.2.7

Numquam me revocas, venias cum saepe vocatus.
Ignosco, nullo si modo, Galle, vocas
Invitus alios: vitium est utriusque. "quod?" inquis
et mihi cor non est et tibi, Galle, pudor.

So Martial was griping about not being invited for dinner when he invites Gallus. I was a bit upset by a friend who wasn't replying to my emails much at the time, so wrote this:

Numquam rescribis scribas cum quaerere quidquid
ignosco, nullo si modo rescribis
Respondes aliis: vitium est utriusque. "quod?" inquis.
Et mihi cor non est et tibi, Mute, pudor.

Anyway. That's the sort of composition--modifying the original and demonstrating an understanding of grammar and meter when revising--that I want the students to do, if for no other reason than you stay in the Latin.

It's a goal. It's not the reality of the classroom yet.
***

Now to grade some English essays....

Oh, and the PRIMA website is http://www.etclassics.org/Primanewsletter.html
Day 1 of the committee for developing the new certification test for Texas. We have a great crew of people on the committee--teachers and esp the group leader from ETS.

I had no idea that there were corresponding standards developed for teachers to go alone with the standards developed for students in the state. And I think this is a good thing, I think it's getting people to reconsider the importance of some items that were left out in the past as being something that would discourage people from becoming certified to teach in Latin--like ORAL LATIN.

Suddenly there's recognition that a beginning teacher would DEFINITELY need to be able to pronounce Latin well on the first day.

Amazingly, there are still some teachers who balk at the idea that they should need to be able to "listen" to Latin. And yet, we ask this of our certamen students.

Perhaps if we had to do this ourselves, we would learn how to teach this skill. Micrologues, which I've done a few times each year (but not too often), develop listening skills, I think, plus they do tie in dictation to a story line.

But here's the question that keeps coming up: WHY do we think certain things are important? I have no problem with dictation because I think it causes one to focus on sounds and syllables. But then I was brought up on phonics and dictation and diagramming. It's just ONE of MANY tools to help train the brain.

The brain is an interesting organ. My two sons are so different in their learning styles. My husband and I are different in our learning styles. And yet, you can find teachers who are very rigid in their learning and teaching styles, and feel threatened by anything they aren't sure of. HOW can we possibly expect our students get beyond language learning anxieties if we ourselves are afraid to take risks to learn something new?

SO WHAT if you choke on dictation at first? Or perhaps, not so what.... After all, we're not like our students; it's not like we are unfamiliar with Latin. No EXPERIENCED teacher should bomb something like this because THE WORDS SHOULD BE FAMILIAR. And, frankly, the macrons should NOT be an issue if the words are fixed in your head....

I guess...I guess because of the way I was taught when young (English, not Latin) I learned to HEAR what I wrote and to WRITE what I heard. But perhaps we've all gotten to that point that we're so afraid to be JUDGED and thus possibly considered STUPID, we are afraid to risk failure.

You know what I say? Take up a sport. Learn how to play and enjoy but still lose. Learn how to be a participant and take risks. Learn how to find the FUN in anything. Stop thinking about the grade, stop thinking about whether you might seem stupid and just enjoy--enjoy it like a game that challenges the brain.

But then, I don't understand people who don't strive to become better at what they do. I didn't start playing soccer until I was 26 and I'm 42 now. I'm not great, but I wouldn't be anyone's last pick either. Each year my playing improves because I want to be able to enjoy the game more. Winning would be nice, but I don't care. I want to ENJOY THE GAME MORE.

And all the things I strive for in Latin, especially pronunciation, is all about ENJOYING Latin more and helping others to ENJOY Latin. I thoroughly enjoy reading Latin outloud. It's richer, more interesting, more alive that way. We can leave Latin dead. We can leave it on the page and insult it with parsing and declining and conjugating without consideration to pronunciation. We can continue to just pick apart sentences, decoding them, torturing them, and reinforcing the erroneous idea that Latin cannot be read like any other language. Or we can use all of our senses, like we use with English, to acquire Latin.

I guarantee you, my own children would have NO INTEREST in reading if I didn't make reading fun. I still read to them, read with them, and read around them. They broaden their vocabulary because they hear me reading new words to them. But we're not willing to do such things with our Latin students?

There's so much more we could do if we would ALL get over our paranoia about seeming foolish. If we all focused on being LIFE LONG learners.... well, I just think there'd be a lot more we could do.

Enough rambling.
This discussion on the Classics list continued:

***

> > Grades aren't everything.

 

But with that said, I just finished posting my grades for progress reports.

They aren't everything, but the world spins around them.

 

 

> So how does one assign a grade to his second (or third, etc.) effort?

> Is it the average of his first and subsequent efforts? That would, I

> think, be only fair and appropriate since, otherwise, in addition to

> dissing the efforts of the students who *did* do well on Test the

> First, there'd be no motivation for folks to do well the first time,

> right?

 

Actually, you'd be surprised.

 

First, keep in mind that I am dealing with students younger than yours who are in a split level class and admittedly don't always get the kind of feedback on written work that I'd like to give.

 

But, no, I don't average them.  I could, but so few students bother to retake the tests that it's never been an issue. The only people who ever bother with retakes are those who not only bomb the test but who expected to pass by a fair margin.  And, surprisingly, other students don't begrudge the student to try again.

 

*IF* this were college, I'm not sure I'd do that.  I'd have office hours, for one, so students would be able to come in for more one-on-one IF THEY WANT IT.  It's not that easy to get that on a high school schedule.

 

>

> And while grades might not be everything, there must be some incentive

> to do well as the class proceeds as whole, no?

 

The incentive is the embarrassment of not doing as well as their peers the first time around, I guess.

 

Of course, it doesn't work this way at all with the kids who just don't care.  Nor will I do more than suggest they come during our "tutorials"

right before school or right after school.  It's THEIR responsibility to want to pass, to want to learn the material, to want to do well enough that they can pass next year as well.

 

> Also, do you go over Test the First in class when handing it back?

> That, I find, is often the point at teaching best intersects with

> assessment. If you do go over a test, then do you make up another one

> for the re-taker? If not, what's to prevent the re-taker from simply

> learning the exact material needed for (more) success the second time?

> And if you do not go over the handed back test, how do folks come to

> understand what was/is expected of them?

 

I do go over some of it briefly, but more likely than not I hand back the tests and then ask for the tests back after they've read my "love notes"

inside the tests.  That is, they can't memorize multiple choice stuff and they really only have a long enough time to read my comments and see the grade.

 

If they actually bother to come in the mornings, we might get out their test and go over it point by point. I think I've done this twice all year.  When they've made notes in the margins (shown their work), I can show them where their thinking went wrong.  Their marginalia can be scribbling out declensions and morphology, or it might be circling tense indicators, or even writing out bits of translation needed to answer whatever question is in front of them.  I'm also teaching test-taking skills and stretching them to take their memorized morphology and APPLY it.  I don't have declining and such on tests because I don't want anyone to feel that they don't have to learn how to read. I don't want students resting on the low level Blooms Taxonomy stuff.  YES, for extra credit in some cases to encourage the lazier students to actually write down what they need instead of racing through tests and guessing at stuff.

 

What I see in students, esp in the first year or so of Latin, is that if they see an F on a test they get so discouraged that they convince themselves that they can't "do" Latin or can't do more than the easier stuff (forms and such).  I spend a lot of time trying to teach students how to take theroot meanings, morphology, etc, and to apply it to what's seen.

This is why I spend so much time metaphrasing a sentence or two at the beginning of class.  I feel that there's an assumption among many teachers, unfortunately, who feel that students can either put it all together or they can't, with not much middle ground.  In fact, I was once told that my problem was that I didn't have my counselors trained to weed out the students they didn't have A's already in English!  I tried to explain that I wasn't complaining about the level of my students, but was just trying to find better ways of reaching a larger number of them.  What I try to do is push as many from the "can't" into middle ground and then on to the "can"--one step at a time often.  So many of these students just don't have that automatic "aha!" mentality and need to be taken through all the little steps we do, maybe without even realizing it.  (But I'm rambling...

Sorry...blame exhaustion...)

 

>

> > Assessment needs to reflect what we really want our students to be

> > able to do.  Anytime I think about it in those terms I

> realize where

> > I'm drifting from my goals.  For instance, if I want

> students to stay

> > in the Latin more, then I need to do more questioning in

> Latin, more

> > work in Latin. If I want them to be better readers of Latin, then I

> > need to explicitly teach them those skills which would

> allow them to read Latin from left to right.

 

> I would argue that an assessment instrument (oh geez, did I

> actually write

> that?) needs to be comprehensive and to allow for a variety

> of learners to do well  in a variety of ways. I do give

> straight paradigms, principle parts and vocab as a percentage

> of my tests. That often ensures that a student who has

> limited abilities in other sections that emphasize, reading,

> transformations, paraphrasing, translating, etc. can be

> assured that s/he will not simply bomb the test outright. It

> also gives a certain kind of student some control over the

> material. And, let's face it, there are such students (in

> sciences, e.g.) ... and they may actually like the language

> for that reason.

 

I understand, but I guess I have a knee-jerk reaction to all those people

who took Latin and all they can do is decline a noun or conjugate a verb.  I

am constantly asking myself what I really think I should be emphasizing.  I

get frustrated with teachers who keep so much of their learning at the rote

memory level--main focus on vocab.  But yet this evening when I was helping

my son with his Latin derivative sheet I realized that his teacher is

focusing on what she sells her program on: improved SAT scores.  So perhaps

I shouldn't criticize.

 

> And in the college-level classroom -- and with its limited

> number of class meetings (as opposed to the HS schedule,

> which was, I recall from my years there, *very* good for a

> looser, less pressured, and even more comprehensive approach

> to learning Latin) --  one needs to recognize that there is

> individual student responsibility to absorb the material the

> first time out.

 

I understand.  One reason why I have review drills/quizzes/etc at quia.com

is so that students can see the kind of thing I'm after/the skills that I

expect them to master.  They have feedback and so are like a one-on-one

session.  My Latin 3's have really benefited from my quia stuff, so they

tell me.  My biggest problem currently is that it's spring and I'm having to

fight other teachers to get computer lab time.  Not ever student has a

computer at home (eegads...I won't say how many are in our geeky household)

and since they are in a small town, there's no easy access to computers in

libraries after school hours.  So I can't just automatically say "do the web

reviews at home"--I have to physically sit them down in the computer lab.

But even with that said, because all the pre-quiz stuff I design requires

sign-ins, I can track who does them at home--mainly my juniors and

especially seniors.  Maturity.

 

>

> I am available to students at the drop of an email. I have

> several experienced tutors available seven days and evenings

> a week. We have a class Blackboard website with discussion

> fora for each Wheelock chapter. The optional exercises at the

> back of W are there. I see every word that my students write

> in their (always) handed-in hwks. And, I might add, I hate

> grades ... but given the information that I get from them

> about where students are at any given point -- and the fact

> that they are required, I use them.

 

I use them too.

 

My biggest regret this year is that I feel like I have to deal with my

English classes first, and therefore my Latin students are not getting the

kind of feedback from me on a regular basis that they need.  I'm working

hard this year so that next year will be all Latin. We shall see if it's

worth this suffering (and sleep deprivation).

 

>

> Ducking the slings and arrows sure to be flying toward CNY from Texas,

 

Aw now, no slings and arrows or buckshot or anything.  Although I might brag

that we're already wearing t-shirts and shorts.  Are you still running in

the snow, John???

 

:D

 

I think back to the original assessment questions and comments that Claude

made as well, and I have to ask what truly is the goal of assessment.

Should there be a way to track whether students are truly getting that

well-balanced education that is comprehensive?  I can tell you that I didn't

even read the authors I should have in classics at UT--and you guys all know

why: you can only offer so many courses per semester, and the authors need

to change up a bit.  I had a ton of poetry, which was a comfort zone for me,

and didn't learn to read prose well <snort> (still working on it) until

recent years.  I read no Caesar, no Cicero, no Plautus, no later authors.

How do you thoughtfully sequence and integrate courses, Claude, esp at a

small university?

 

Let's face it, this is part of the problem with preparing future teachers.

 

I have suggested in the past that we need to track those declared student

teachers better. And if the courses they SHOULD have just aren't available,

then covering those authors can and should fall back on the student's

shoulders.  All future teachers should possess early on in their major a set

of AP author texts.  If the only poetry on offer is Propertius, then the

student's advisor should suggest what OUTSIDE READING should be done by the

student.  The student should work with the professor in picking topics for

papers that combine, say, Catullus and Propertius.

 

And how do we *assess* what this future teacher is doing each year?  Why not

some sort of portfolio?  We need to get students thinking about what they

are reading and why ON THEIR OWN.  I'm so impressed, as I said, with the

portfolios they do in my current school. The seniors are so impressive with

their presentations...(sudden panic--do I have a senior panel to sit in on

tomorrow?  Eek! Must check....) and they are also so focused--FAR MORE

focused than I ever was as a senior.

 

A general portfolio, though, for your average student would reflect somehow

all of their coursework and how they see the courses fitting together and

making the big picture.  After all, if you are just earning a handful of

pieces for a jigsaw puzzle each year but you put them in a box, you don't

know what you've got.  But if you take those pieces when you get them and

start putting the puzzle together, then you begin to see what you're

missing.

 

Right. I am so rambling.  G'night, all--

 

ginnyL

 

This was going to be a reply but WAS TOO LONG!!!! ha. So read the previous post and the various comments left before reading this.

****
****

They may THINK they want to teach in the private sphere until they realize there are NO JOB OPENINGS except in public, and they've screwed themselves out of getting that job because they decided certification was beneath them.

Someone just sent me this list--whether it's "real" or just an urban legend, I don't know, but it's applicable here:

***
Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they
are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
****

Several of these struck me as important, including #s 4 & 5. Ed courses are NOT beneath classicists. Are they as challenging as reading Latin or Greek? Maybe not. Can you learn something from them? Most all of them. Are they taught well? Sometimes not, but then there are plenty of totally boring entry level Wheelocks classes being taught at colleges by TA's who likewise thought pedagogy was beneath them.

I think licensure is IMPORTANT. I think too many people who "love" Latin have been stuck in the secondary classroom in the U.S. only to slowly kill a program because they do not know PEDAGOGY or classroom management. And then the problem is with the school or the students, but NEVER themselves. And some of these people refuse to attend conferences or ever read anything about pedagogy. They don't love Latin, they love themselves and feeling superior to others.

And while I think there should some flexibility in the licensure process in *some* cases, I think more people should take the licensure seriously early on, including professors in departments. If they think something is unreasonable about the process--truly unreasonable--then THEY need to begin the dialog to change things since they are involved with licensing future teachers.

In the 1980s, certification testing in Texas was going through some major changes and it was looking likely that we'd have to take an oral exam for Latin. A committee was formed in the Texas Classics Association to undertake the task of what such a beast should look like and this was the outcome: http://www.txclassics.org/OralExam.pdf

Now, this was never used. Sadly. We managed to get a waver on the oral portion of the exam for this dead language. More's the pity, because we have too many young teachers who can't pronounce Latin with any consistency. It's no wonder students struggle with scanning poetry once they get to AP Latin.

And every time I suggested we somehow put the exam into place, I was told that it was just another hurdle that we didn't need to put for future teachers. That was in the 1990s. I finally stopped bringing this topic up at the TCA Executive Committee meetings because I was tired of arguing. There were ways this could have been incorporated and not be a hurdle. How about if we made the oral exam required within the first 5 years of teaching? I don't know how we could have done this, but there could have been a way to still get that new teacher in the classroom immediately AS WELL AS improving his/her pronunciation.

This, to me, is where having a test would have forced ALL OF THE UNIVERSITIES in the state to address pronunciation before these future teachers were let loose. But since that isn't happening, and I can't see how to get universities to change how they approach certification, I've been coming at the problem from a different angle.

I've designed this flyer for distribution among undergraduates http://www.promotelatin.org/futureteacher.pdf (actually, I think I have a newer version I need to post). This details what *I* think future teachers should know and what they should be reading.

Arrogant? Yes, probably. But maybe this guide will be useful to a future teacher.

Look at it this way--everyone in med school is going to be a doctor so every instructor is invested to that end. But everyone in the classics department is NOT going after a teaching certificate. Only 1 or 2 students per year, usually. That's not a lot. So we aren't going to demand the kind of attention we need. That's reality. As Bill Gates said, "Life's not fair--get used to it!"

It is up to us to brainstorm different ways to address problems in certification, but the first is to make sure that classics departments are AWARE of all of the requirements of the state. I believe the original blog posting was about a person graduating who had been poorly advised. THAT shouldn't happen. That's where we need to begin.

Communication is the key. And instead of whining about problems we need to offer solutions. I know Ontario has problems we don't face down here, but perhaps your next step should be forming a group that could not only brainstorm about the problem but actually affect some change.

Good luck!
This entry began life as a reply to a colleague I presented with at ACL on certification issues. She's in Arizona, I think, and has been having legitimate problems with certification because there is no one nearby to do her student teaching with. No student teaching, no certification. (She's going to be doing a big commute.) At our presentation, there were a myriad of problems that were discussed, but what gets me are the problems that we can and should prevent.

It's kind of like water conservation. When you have a drought, you don't waste a drop of water; you can't afford to. And yet, we have a shortage of Latin teachers but seem to be more than willing to let potential teachers slip through our programs. With some foresight and planning this could be prevented.

Well, here's my rant:

****

I had an email from a young man here in Texas who has a degree in Classics and decided to teach, had to find an alternative certification program, which he did, but is trying to get credit for his Greek to count for Latin so he'll have enough hours in Latin to be certified. I gave him some ideas--like contacting the Texas Education Agency--but secretly I wanted to say you really need those hours in Latin.

It frustrates me that we allow "classics" majors without really asking our students what they intend to DO with it. If there is ANY chance at ALL that these undergrads may end up teaching then those advising the undergrads MUST PREPARE THEM BETTER. But professors will wash their hands of this responsibility, esp at smaller programs. (Or in fairness, perhaps the professors never knew of his interest.)

The young man in question graduated from the University of Houston. To my knowledge I've never seen one single person from U Houston show up at a Texas Classical Association conference, ever, and we have people come from Texas Tech in Lubbock, Trinity U in San Antonio, UT, Baylor in Waco, UT Arlington, Rice U in Houston, and others--just not U of Houston. Why? Do they assume our conference is beneath them because it's more secondary people than university? Maybe. And, I'm guessing, they really don't have a certification program, though they might.

But the end result is that this young man is now struggling to figure out how to seek employment. I'm sure he's had no pedagogy, and is assuming that teaching is easy as so many people do. You know what I mean.

The fact remains, for better or worse, that people attend colleges with the idea that upon graduation they will be able to get a job, that their degree will a ticket to employment. But if your degree is in Latin and you don't have anything specific in mind (law school, med school, grad school, editing, and, of course, teaching), you'll be told by employment agencies (as I have been) that it is a useless degree--unless you are teaching.

But teaching isn't for everyone, it shouldn't be treated as a fallback position when no other job is available or apparent. And if you KNOW it is likely that you are going to teach, for heaven's sake find out what you need to be certified BEFORE YOU LEAVE COLLEGE.

Frankly, certification issues are so convoluted but while you have legitimate problems with getting certified, what this guy is going through is CERTAINLY avoidable. In his case he was poorly advised while in school which made this all the more convoluted. It's stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway.

I really think it's worthwhile to find out what all the odd hurdles are with certification across the nation. I think if Prof Keitel sets up a list of those involved in certification that it would be worthwhile, both from sharing solutions and preventing problems. How we get the right people on that list is a mystery to me, but she thinks she can do it.

And as for the University of Houston, I'm betting they don't have a certification program for Latin so they don't keep track of the hours needed to be certified and highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. But if there is a chance that one of their students would end up in an alternative certification program, they need to advise their students about the hours of Latin required.

Don't you think? There are numerous departments out there which are do not have certification programs because of accrediting, but that shouldn't mean they can ignore what the state requires for hours in certification. Maybe this is the next area we need to address on a national level--raising the awareness of certification issues EVEN AMONG COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES THAT DON'T HAVE TRADITIONAL CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS.

How, I don't know. But it needs to be done.
The following was a rather lengthy reply to a discussion on the Latinteach list about teaching reading theory and using TPRS in the Latin classroom.

>>>Ginny L, you especially -
what
is being done to preserve and carry on this pedagogy (that the other
languages have employed for quite some time, I might add)?

***

Me especially, eh? Me... because I'm always bold enough to speak out about something that may well be unpopular with others... (as I ponder whether I've spoken out one too many times lately and whether I might be fired)...

ahem

Here is the big picture where we as a profession need to think outside of the box. With the exception of a few programs with MAT's (like UGA and UMass), most future teachers are going through certification in Latin on their own or maybe with one other person in the program. How many were in your methods class? It was just myself and another guy when I was working on mine. It hasn't changed much.

Consider how as secondary teachers we have to watch our programs like hawks (see a recent plea for help on this list) because of small enrollment. Can you imagine how you argue for a class for one or two people? My understanding is that the professors are not compensated for one or two students well, and yet we all know that a class of two can take as much prep as a class of 50, if done well. These same professors are expected to keep up their research and publishing, and sadly pedagogy is not what academia is looking for in regards to publishing for the most part. They jump through hoops just like we do and we need to respect that fact and find a way to work with it.

Time is a factor for professors, and also a frustration with the idea that what they do is sometimes at odds with what we do. For instance, courses in any given classics department are, in the target language, usually about a specific author--Vergil, Cicero, Plautus, Catullus, etc. Their goal is to read X number of lines, have some essays and a few tests. Very few professors are in on the ground level of language acquisition; they are dealing with students who have the basics.

We are dealing with the basics and we lately we are opening our minds to better ways of dealing with the basics. We are reconsidering our goals: is it to make students who can write better English and know the difference between whom and who, or is it to create students who can read as opposed to decode a given passage of Latin? Is chanting declensions and conjugations as the Latin teacher does at the beginning of Dead Poets Society what we want from our students? I have had parents who could chant amo, amas, amat but heaven forbid I put a passage of Latin in front of him.

So here we are totally reevaluating how we approach language acquisition because we are TIRED of OUR OWN COMPLAINTS that students don't retain vocabulary well or moan every time they see a passage of continuous Latin. We are exploring TPRS and Krashen and Rassias, we are looking at different textbooks with even more textbooks under development. And many of us are saying to ourselves that if we had just had this information SOONER--if we could just insure that the next group of future teachers is armed with it--life would be better.

But where do we fit it in the tight undergraduate schedule? Is it a course or should it be something incorporated from the very beginning of your undergraduate career?

I have been arguing on the classics list and sometimes at my blog site that we can relieve some of the pressure on the professors to meet the needs of future teachers by offering set authors (Vergil, Catullus, Ovid, Cicero, Horace--which they can't necessarily do because their institutions require variety) by instituting a reading lab 101 and an oral Latin/pronunciation lab 101. Ok, they could be combined.

Here is what I have in mind and what I will keep advocating for until something better comes along. This new 1 hour a week lab will be required for all incoming Latin students with high school Latin under their belts and all student in beginning Latin (at least by the 2nd semester). One of the main textbooks will be Dexter Hoyos's _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_ which explicitly explains how one can retrain the brain to go from left to right, how to do what must have come naturally centuries ago. For practice, Oerberg's _Lingua Latina_ will be reader. This text, if you have not seen it, has nothing but Latin and pictures. Repetition and contrast reinforce vocabulary and grammar. The main benefit will be to ensure that EVERYONE has significant practice 1) reading from left to right, 2) reading PAGES if not CHAPTERS of Latin at a go, 3) reading WITHOUT EVER resorting to the glossary or a grammar. This same text could be used to practice pronunciation and fluent reading. It is absolutely criminal that we have new teachers who have NEVER ONCE had a teacher explain the rules for pronunciation. Admittedly this is something I wish CLC had--an appendix with pronunciation rules. The new CDs that come with the text have terribly inconsistent pronunciation and are, I feel, very disappointing and not worth using.

But what are the benefits of such a course? 1) students are exposed to tools that should make the rest of their undergraduate career reading authors considerably easier and thus providing more time for thoughtful contemplation of content instead of grammar; 2) students would become far more comfortable with speaking Latin, questioning in Latin, and talking about a text in Latin; and 3) students are exposed to tools that would allow them to read authors that they will need to know for secondary teaching (Vergil, Cicero, et al.) outside of classtime. Yes, OUTSIDE of classtime. My proposal would also include that departments track future teachers more closely and suggest which authors they should be reading outside of class that would complement the class the student is enrolled in. For instance, if taking Propertius, why not have future teachers read a little Ovid and Catullus outside of class and include those authors in any paper required for the class?

Why is it that Latin majors rarely read anything other than what was assigned in class? I can honestly say for me it was because I could only decode and not read, and hadn't an inkling that I could just read extensively in another author without feeling the need to grab a dictionary or grammar to make sure I knew the meaning of every single little word. I had little faith that I could do so with ease and thus was scared to do it. No one ever suggested reading some easier authors. No one ever suggested anything. I just assumed that I wasn't as bright as those who would eventually go to grad school. What a joke. I just didn't have the tools. I just needed Dexter's book.

I also think departments should be made aware of the various conferences offered around the nation. If they cannot provide the complete educational experience we would like--TPRS, Krashen and all others included--then by all means these departments should consider helping future teachers and grad students get to such conferences. If there is no one in the department that is "qualified" (?!) to teach such a reading/pronunciation 101 lab as I have described, then train them up by sending them to such a conference. I have been promoting the Cambridge conference in Atlanta to UGA just this year because I know most universities do NOT prepare future teachers for teaching from a reading based text, and they should one way or another.

My point in all this is that we can't just say, COLLEGES, TEACH THE NEW STUFF. TEACH THE AP AUTHORS. Likewise, colleges shouldn't just say back, SECONDARY, WHAT WE'VE DONE ALL ALONG IS GOOD ENOUGH. WE DON'T HAVE TIME, RESOURCES, OR MANPOWER FOR MORE. We need to find a middle ground, something doable, something that will benefit both camps in the long run. Right now I think my 101 lab idea sounds the most reasonable and the most general with the potential for fantastic results for both future teachers as well as just undergraduates and graduates studying Latin who perhaps have no interest in teaching but want to master the language. Could TPRS be worked into the pronunciation lab? Of course. But we don't have people trained to do that yet in most classics departments, do we?

Here's what must NOT happen. We must not get complacent. We must not get discouraged. Even though we see no changes happening yet that we might like to happen, we should keep discussing these ideas here in cyberspace, in print and at conferences--and also with our students.

Consider National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week--NEXT WEEK. Would you like to see future teachers trained in these new methods? Then tell YOUR STUDENTS what your dream is. One or two will be listening. Even when you might have some real whiners in the class, consider that there may well be one or two who hang on your every word whether you know it or not.

If you build it, they will come.

more on NLTRW

Feb. 12th, 2006 06:24 pm
ginlindzey: At ACL (Default)
And the discussion continued.... (see previous entry):

***
> You have to convince the professors it is in their interest
> to care about how well they teach. It is not, really, now, so they
> will not care to waste valuable tenure-track time improving their
> pedagogy.
> After they get tenure, sadly, many professors don't care about either.

Actually, I don't think there's enough attention to pedagogy to begin with for professors to form a valid opinion of how well they teach. I think MOST
*do* want to teach well and assume that when students don't do well it is a lack of effort. Part of this is because of an inability to understand where for the average non-classics major the disconnects are happening. After all, those of us who ARE Latin/classics majors rarely had these "disconnect"
issues.

Many who care also feel there is a lack of time in order to address all the woes in any given class--whether it was inferior teaching in a 506 beginning Latin class or at a high school or wherever. It is a matter of covering the syllabus, in great measure and to say that the professors don't care about how well they teach is to simplify the problem.

But when the pressures of employment put a greater weight on publishing, yes, that takes priority and questions about how to improve one's pedagogy shift to the bottom of the stack. No question.

But let me add this. Earlier this year an OU prof contacted me and said that for the first time he had used a reading card and the concepts of metaphrasing with a student who had been having trouble putting it all together. The student was so amazed at how using the reading card helped his comprehension and ability to understand how morphology works that he couldn't help ask WHY the prof hadn't shown them how to use a reading card sooner? So to me, part of the problem is just getting the right tools in the hands of professors.

I swear, if all profs had as required reading Dexter Hoyos's _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_, I think they'd see a marked increase in translation/reading in their own classes. It should stand on the shelf right next to any Latin dictionary and grammar as books that must purchased for any serious (or even not so serious) student of the language.


> Another problem, especially on the pre-university level, is that most
> schools do not stick with a Latin teacher who has generated
> complaints, etc., his first year.

Depends what the complaints are; depends whether the Latin teacher himself has taken an honest look at what he is doing and decided whether there was anything he could have done to improve the situation.

There are teachers at my school that receive continual complaints, and, frankly, I think they are deserved. The man who is the head of our ISS (in school suspension) said to me earlier this year that he has never heard anything bad about me from the students, that they respect me.

Is it because I load them up with easy A's? I don't think so. But I do think it is because the students know I am fair, that I try to provide a variety of ways to learn a particular topic, and that I'm not so rigid in my teaching that it's either a "do it my way or fail" situation. Rigid teachers who do not try to understand that teaching is COMMUNICATION will get the complaints in general.

Especially if
> there is no real solid constituency for the Latin program in the first
> place.

And that is something that each of us must create, and you can't create that by saying Latin is good for you like cod liver oil.


> I have never been a traditional 'student teacher'. Is this a valuable
> experience for those who do it? My sense has often been that in
> fields like Latin, many teachers trained primarily as education
> students, who have often very little course background in their
> subject itself, are not necessarily the best people to train teachers
> in any case.

It depends where you are. At UTexas the methods courses are done in the classics department in conjunction with the education department. And, yes, I think it is a valuable experience, especially if you are lucky enough to get place with a good teacher. I had three observers last semester, one from the UTeach program who did in fact teach a half dozen classes. It was a good experience for her; I set her up for success most of the time but the last time I set her up with something I knew would be a problem so that she could see where she had a weakness. No, the class itself wasn't a disaster, but I knew that there is a trick to doing comprehension questions, especially in Latin, and making sure that THE WHOLE CLASS stays with you.
She was losing kids right and left, and once you do that, you lose control of the class.

That's not something you can learn in a book, and it is better to experience that and be able to discuss it with someone who KNOWS what happened, what went wrong and why than to just go home at the end of the day and feel like a failure because you don't know what happened and why.

Student teaching can be valuable if done right.


> Not sure you have made a convincing case that good fluid oral reading
> skills are more important than reading the literature as literature
> and with grammatically correct understanding.

I dare say that every time I listen to NPR's short story theatre (whatever it's called) that I am hearing literature being read outloud. I dare say that Cicero was meant to be heard outloud--that his phrasing and word choices were made particularly for the ear not the brain.

Yes, I can read Shakespeare to myself, but those speeches are meant to be heard. There is no life in them without the voice.



> Students have been being taught to read Latin for 2000 years.
> We know how to do so.

BUBULUM STERCUS.

We have taught NOTHING BUT DECODING FOR DECADES IF NOT MORE. Nothing but futuens decoding and you know it. HOW MANY BOOKS written by reputable authors have instructed students to FIND THE SUBJECT THEN THE VERB? HERCLE!
Latin was not meant to be this way because you damn well cannot read more than 60-100 lines at a go if you are constantly finding every damn subject and every damn verb and disentangling sentences that should be left alone!

WOULD YOU TELL a social students class to find the subject and the verb in this sentence? Is it necessary? Doesn't it ruin the construction of this?:

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.

Fine. Go ahead. Let's decode the damn thing. WHAT A WAY TO LEARN ENGLISH.

Have ANY OF YOU discussed at any time with your undergraduates how to read EXTENSIVELY in Latin? Or is it just intensive reading nonstop? Is it a wonder that so many people getting BA's in Latin look at their modern language colleagues and wonder why they can read whole novels at a go and we can't?

Not so during the age of Galileo or Copernicus; not so during the age of Columbus. They were fluent. We know nothing of that sort of fluency.

Do not say that we've been learning to read Latin for 2000 years. We've done nothing of the sort certainly during the last 100 or so years, or more people would have greater fluency.

> There is, as you say, not enough time allotted to do all these things,
> and even if the average school or college chose to give that time to
> us, the extra required work here would doubtless motivate many current
> students to say no thanks.

And I think that is bubulum stercus yet again. I think 1 extra hour a week for a reading/pronunciation lab would be invaluable in the years ahead of that student. I think they would look back and be eternally grateful.
Where are we going to run them off to? Spanish? French? Where the oral component is still considerably more? Oh please, that's just a lousy excuse for someone looking not to consider the cost efficiency of doing this, because in the long run you would have a higher quality of undergraduate and graduate student, not to mention future teachers who would then produce better students more interested in signing up for Latin. But perhaps the big picture is lost on you. It's lost on many people, I think, who feel that change is either bad or inconvenient or who don't think they'd have anyone in the department who would be qualified to teach such a lab because everyone's pronunciation is sloppy. Now how sad is that?

I say, make an effort, not an excuse.

> We have to get those students to enroll and then to stay.
> How do you suggest we do that, with today's millennial kids?

Be a good teacher. How do you think I manage the enrollment I have?


> You need to demonstrate that changing our Latin pedagogy in the way
> you suggest will result in sustained significant increases in student
> counts.

Fine. Come to my school. You know, before the district closes it because of our low population. I have a larger Latin program than the middle school across town which has almost double the population. That school has all the middle class/upper middle class kids, I have the lower class kids. The difference is the teaching style.


> Yes, I suppose it would do that. It would almost certainly not do
> anything to improve knowledge of grammar, especially in a poetry
> context.

Bubulum stercus yet again.

If I am keenly aware of pronunciation then I am also keenly aware of my morphology. If I am keenly aware of my morphology and have spent a fair amount of time reciting Latin outloud, I become even more keenly aware of phrasing. The end result is a higher understanding of word order and phrasing in Latin without the need to pick the damned poem apart.

I don't need to pick apart the preamble to the constitution to understand it, but it certainly helps to say it and hear it aloud to absorb the more archaic phrasing. I feel the same way about Shakespeare.



> It is not at all as simple as buying into a theory such as Bloom's.

You don't have to "buy" the theory. It's not evolution. It's a simple progression of cognitive development and you could find similar descriptions I'm sure in any textbook on psychology. Or just have children of your own and note the difference in their cognitive abilities at certain ages. Become a doctor of pediatrics; medical school could tell you the same thing regarding the cognitive development of young people.

Or would you rather blame all failures in your classroom on the students?


> Anyone who is raised to speak it, and lives in a culture where it is
> spoken daily. Not necessarily
> *anyone* else, though.

Why?

> Surely you have seen students in Latin classes who lack, at least at
> the time they were taking it, the je ne sais quoi necessary for Latin
> success.

The only thing I really see in my students that cause them to do poorly is a lack of support at home and an enthusiasm for learning and education.
Nothing else is outside of their reach. But I dare say what happens in my classroom takes back stage to child protective services entering a home because the mom is a crack-cocaine addict (last year), or the boy whose sister died in a car accident this year. I guarantee you that I did not have his attention in class after Christmas, nor did I ride him hard for that. They are kids first, and my students second.


> I do not know how old you are,

FORTY. 41 in May (May 23rd for any of you who feel I have earned a present.
Feel free to pitch in together on an OLD...)

or what your educational
> background was before you first stepped into a Latin classroom as a
> teacher.

A student at a decent public high school. Private religious school for K-6.
UT--summa cum laude 3.94 GPA in 1987. Phi Beta Kappa. Nothing really special about my education except that I was your typical conforming female student. My parents had college education, but nothing special. No academicians in my family, no doctors, no lawyers. Not in the last generation at least.

Nor do I know how you did as a
> rookie teacher.

I taught high school in San Antonio at Roosevelt H.S. 1987-1988 and ran away screaming because I over did it and never got any sleep. Took off a dozen years and did a variety of things including desktop publishing and writing a novel that (gratias Deo) was never published and traveled/lived in England.
Became editor for the Texas Classical Association in 1992, I think, and was editor for 10 years of a semiannual journal and a semiannual newsletter, received awards for same.

I do know you were allowed to progress into
> veteran status,

No, I spent much of those dozen years, especially once I became editor, in trying to learn what I felt was wrong about my Latin education. It was in
1994 that I discovered an article written by Dexter Hoyos in Classical Outlook that changed the way I felt about reading Latin and the possibility of my really learning how to read Latin and not decode it. We corresponded for a while after that, then he sent me what became _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_ and I did my best to help him find a publisher. It is a shame that Bolchazy-Carducci didn't want it as is, but that means you can purchase it more cheaply from CANE. Anyway, I only reentered teaching in 2000. This is my 6th year at my middle school. So, only a total of 7 years altogether. But I also make a point of going to conferences and workshops, being open minded about my eduation, willing to go against the current if I think my ideas are valid, etc.

I have gotten to veteran status because of my determination to be a truly good teacher, not because I managed to float along until I arrived. No one served it up to me on a silver platter. I have constantly examined what I do in the classroom, constantly questioned it, and constantly sought for ways to improve upon what I do. Research of its own.

and not too frustrated by the parents, grade
> inflation, wretched student behavior, that also causes many good
> teachers to bug out today.

Who says I'm not frustrated by parents? Oh please, don't get me started there. But I don't let one or two parents ruin what I do.

As for grade inflation, I am guilty of this to a certain degree. I was discussing on another list recently what I do for extra credit--how you can get a boatload of extra points on any of my vocab quizzes which have the words in context by doing what I call rigorous reading: circling tense indicators, singulars, plurals, etc before writing out your answer. It's sort of like showing your work in math. The end result is that I have higher grades on the initial quiz portion before the extra credit gets added on. That is, I am teaching them a test taking skill or a good study technique. I am happy to reward it with extra credit because they think they are getting away with something, but in truth they are becoming more detail oriented as students. And I can teach this technique to any dullard in the room. Yes, I probably have some grade inflation, but not because I give curves or ludicrous extra credit reports and whatnot.

Student behavior? I manage my classroom well so that there is little downtime from the moment they walk in. I structure everything I do to limit downtime and the end result is little in the way of "wretched" behavior. Oh, yes, I have my disruptors but such is the nature of the beast.

Notice that by changing MY OWN behavior I am also able to change student behavior and student productivity.


> We have not even mentioned the remuneration.

No. Why bother? My pay isn't horrible but it isn't great. In general, though, it's a safer place to be than technology with all the layoffs there.
I have the same holiday schedule as my children and can go study in the summers if I so choose. Not too many jobs offer that. I don't have to pay for after school care or endless summer day camps because I can be with my kids, and that saves me a fair amount of money right there.


> Obviously... but today, parents and administrators generally absolve
> students of all responsibility.

Not necessarily. But if you come off as an anally retentive authoritarian classroom tyrant, the administration may well side with the students. After all, teaching is all about communicating WITH students.
***

Perhaps I got carried away; perhaps I was a bit rude in this note. The other person in the discussion is probably a talented classicist, but certainly not one to note his own weaknesses or that any problem in the classroom could be his own fault. Even still, I probably should not have attacked him as I did at times, but ... oh, well, no buts about it. I want to say he deserves it, but do any of us really? We are all blind to our own faults.

Ok, some of us are all too aware of our own faults: I know I'm pretty full of myself sometimes.

But there is a real "people quality" needed in teaching. You need to remember that doceo takes two accusatives--the person you are teaching as well as the subject matter. You cannot teach Latin without students, and to decide that all students are miserable little wretches to me means that you have forgotten that they are people. And that has to come first.
On the classics list we've been having a discussion the spun off of an initial note I sent about NLTRW (National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week). NLTRW is the first full week in March. For more, see www.promotelatin.org/nltrw.htm.

Anyway, the discussion ended up being about teacher suitability, university work and expectations, and other things...

***
> That is a problem, but, of course, many people do not finish their
> dissertations because what they are not cut out to do is be a research
> scholar, whereas they still could be a very enthusiastic and very
> competent Latin teacher.

Yes. I agree. And here's where I see a BIG problem with what happens at the university level: there is rarely any discussion of true pedagogy. I was lucky enough to have as a professor the late Gareth Morgan, who had taught at all levels of education. He was an amazing teacher and professor and took the time in our methods course to expose us to a wide variety of textbooks and teaching methodologies. How many of you know of the UK texts out in the 60s/70s (I think) called Principia and Pseudolus Noster by Peckett and Munday? Brilliant texts--for teaching via the "direct method".
In many ways these texts would be totally appropriate in the current climate of language acquisition discussions going on with modern languages (Krashen, Rassias, et al.).

But because of a lack of discussion of pedagogy there is this assumption that teaching Latin is all about memorizing endings and then--IF YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH--putting it all together later on. So we have at one end on Blooms Taxonomy "knowledge" level learning (rote memorization) and then we have this assumption that kids can just suddenly go to synthesis and analysis level learning with reading and composition. There's rarely an in between. Teaching Latin is a sink or swim situation--either you have a natural gift for it or you don't. Or that's how it's been presented.

Now, why has it been like this for the last several decades? Probably in great measure because of costs. Who can afford to devote resources to the one or two students doing student teaching? So mostly, methods courses are just thrown together. There is no serious discussion or focus on the skills students should be acquiring while at university until the methods course, and often that's too late.

For instance, very little attention is paid to pronunciation.
Understandably--when are you going to do this? You have your 50 minute hour, you have to cover X number of lines of Y author and deal with problems of grammar and translation. You can't just stop class to devote it to pronunciation. Fair enough. But when, then? Perhaps you don't think it's important--but I think it is critical for true appreciation of Latin. If we are ever to get to a point of fluency in reading--WHICH SHOULD BE OUR GOAL instead of covering X number of lines of Y author--we have to be able to speak the language outloud. How can you acquire vocabulary if you make it all cerebral? How can it ever flow like a real language if it is all a puzzling out meaning sort of game?

What about teachings students HOW to read from left to right? How can you become a teacher and hope to teach students how to do these things if you were never taught yourself?

This is where I get on my soapbox and ask you, as professors, to consider adding a reading lab and a pronunciation lab--it could be combined all in one. A 1 hour lab to have a place where students focus on nothing but reading outloud, reading with fluency, and learning how to read from left to right. No one in your department with great pronunciation (always a possibility)? Then get those new Wheelocks CD's from Bolchazy Carducci. They are impeccable. What to practice with reading that's simple enough for the beginning student but long enough to build up skills? Why not Oerberg's Lingua Latina. Have students reading WHOLE CHAPTERS of Latin at a go.

And then, back to the methods courses, why aren't we using Distler's _Teach the Latin, I Pray You_? It may be dated but there's a LOT of good information there about teaching the language. Lots of solid pedagogy. And why aren't we paying more attention to Krashen and Rassias and what others are doing with modern languages?

If you are bemoaning the quality of reading of your GRAD students, then maybe you should also consider what is happening at the undergraduate level, and why we aren't creating better readers to go into the PhD programs.

And, yes, perhaps we do have too many PhDs. Not a bad thing if we simply value education for what it is: knowledge. I heard it said at a CAMWS grad student panel that to make yourself more marketable as a young PhD, you need to be a good teacher as well as researcher. Well, there we are again, back at teaching. And you can't say, "well, I'm really good at Cicero, that's my specialty, and I just have to wait until the students are ready for Cicero."
No, you have to figure out how to get MORE STUDENTS ready for Cicero to begin with, and you're not going to do that unless you arm those undergraduates with an ability to READ LATIN in word order and to APPRECIATE the sound of Latin. You can't tell me that Cicero wanted his speeches to be read in a quiet corner of the library or in a small classroom tucked away behind the big lecture hall filled with mythology students.

We can MAKE GOOD TEACHERS. Ok, that last quality--that "people" quality--is not something you can make. But you can arm undergrads and grads with all the tools to teach most anyone how to read Latin from left to right.
Damnit, if I can do it with a large number of my inner city students, then you can do it with college students.


> This is unfortunate, and it seems to be a recent phenomenon.
> A decade ago it was still largely possible to get Latin teachers
> alternatively certified in most states.

Thank President Bush and "No Child Left Behind."


> Not all secondary teachers are capable of becoming Ivy League
> professors, but most Ivy League professors would not make good public
> hs teachers, either.

True, to a certain extent... But even at an Ivy League school you have to teach beginning students, and you can't tell me that there aren't a few dullards that get in because of mommy and daddy's connections with admissions. It wouldn't hurt for everyone to be exposed to more pedagogy and language acquisition theory. Or we can just exclude ourselves as privileged and above it all and watch our programs continue to shrink or be absorbed by other departments.


> You still should have set him straight.

Oh, it wasn't worth it. He didn't mean ill. And besides, I have plenty of colleagues at the secondary level who treat me as "just a middle school teacher" and assume that I don't have issues that they have with AP Latin, etc. Hey, I teach my courses as if all of my students will take AP Latin (as unlikely as it is), which is why I do emphasize the importance of pronunciation. It certainly makes reading Vergil and understanding meter so much easier if you begin with a knowledge early on of pronunciation and syllabification.

Another problem that
> I see here is that, while there *may* be a shortage of Latin teachers
> at the jr/sr hs level, there most certainly is no shortage of PhD
> classics professors. Sadly, many classics PhDs will not be able to
> get gainful post-secondary positions, even as lowly adjuncts, and
> these people are a good potential resource for hs teaching, especially
> in more academically-motivated hs environments.

At this point WE are the ones that create academically motivated students.
Yes, some middle school and high school environments are better than others, but WE can inspire our students to stretch themselves beyond what they themselves think they are capable of doing. Ok, and sometimes there's not much we can do.

But also, part of the problem with keeping students motivated is in our own teaching--we inadvertently leap from knowledge level learning to analysis and synthesis without arming students to make that leap. When you understand Blooms Taxonomy (google it if you are unfamiliar with it), you can begin to understand where the misconnects happen. If we don't attend to those misconnects, what we end up with is a room full of students that just got left behind. They aren't academically unmotivated--they are lost and left to feel stupid.

As Father Foster has said/written, if a prostitute in Rome could learn Latin, so can anyone.

> Probably a good thing, too. Who cares what the test says?

Actually, it's a nosce te ipsum thing. You may not realize where your weaknesses are and such a test can point them out. Then you can decide how you want to deal with them.

I get frustrated with Latin teachers who say that they don't want to do oral Latin because they took Latin originally because it had no oral component and it makes them uncomfortable. Well, right there is a weakness--the teacher herself/himself is unwilling to leave his/her own comfort zone to address a weakness. Not quite the same as a psych test, but the point is similar. We have to be willing to honestly look at ourselves and how we teach and decide WHAT CAN WE DO DIFFERENTLY and not blame it all on the students. It can be humbling, but it can also be rewarding. I know if the whole class bombed an assignment that perhaps the problem wasn't the students, but perhaps my instructions or my assuming that they were ready for the assignment. And I have to be willing to answer up honestly in order to be a better teacher.

> Can it say how someone will deal with violent, disruptive,
> anti-motivated inner-city discipline cases?

Learn better classroom management skills. I highly recommend _The First Days of School_ for understanding how classroom organization and routines can truly cut down on disruptive behaviors. All things considered, I have pretty productive classes. It was not always the case.

No, you can't cure everything with classroom management skills, but you can limit many of the problems. The question is, are you willing to question WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT THE PROBLEMS or would you rather just say the fault is entirely with the students?

I designed a brochure a few years ago "So You Want to be a Latin Teacher?"
http://www.promotelatin.org/futureteacher.pdf which offers some advice for the undergraduate in order to help them take charge of their university preparation. Feel free to print and distribute to your undergrads. I also have a section on the NLTRW website on the FAQ page of advice for becoming a teacher, including suggestions for changes in teacher preparation. Feel free to take a look here:
http://www.promotelatin.org/nltrwrfaq.htm#advice

The fact remains that if we continue to put little thought into the training of our future teachers, we will have more situations like I find locally--teachers who really aren't prepared to teach young people slowly kill programs so that there are fewer programs left. Fewer middle school Latin programs means fewer kids taking Latin in high school. Two years middle school equals 1 year high school credit, and if students start with Spanish or French in middle school, guess what they will take in high school? And if you have fewer taking Latin in high school, there will be fewer students reaching upper division Latin in college.

We can work together to change this cycle--we can consider cost effective ways to improve our university preparation for teachers that take into account the issues that colleges have (see my suggestions for changes in teacher preparation on the webpage above)--or we can continue as we have always done. Things may stay the same, or they may get worse. I can't imagine that they will improve.