Sunday, November 02, 2008


Inexpensive Instruments of Instruction

Ernest Weekley, Something about Words (London: John Murray, 1935), pp. 39-40:
At that point, so far as the constitution of our vocabulary goes, we have to stop, for our pupils are, for our particular purpose, even worse placed than Shakespeare, who knew little Latin and less Greek. This I regret, for in matters educational I am a die-hard conservative, a hide-bound reactionary and all the other things so objectionable to enlightenment. Like Anatole France, 'Je porte aux études latines un amour désespéré', and, like George Borrow's father, I hold that no boy ever came to a bad end who had thoroughly mastered the Latin primer. In fact, I sometimes wonder whether the whole elaborate and costly machinery of modern education produces a more clear-thinking and hard-working type than did those bygone centuries when the simple apparatus of instruction was represented by those two comparatively inexpensive instruments—a Latin grammar and a birch-rod.
The reincarnation of plagosus Orbilius is probably not a good idea, but I wouldn't mind seeing more Latin grammars and fewer computers in today's classrooms.

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