Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Scholastici Canadianae

According to Inside Higher Ed, many Canadian universities are seeing increased enrollment in Latin courses. And yet, it's probably too soon to say if this is because of my influence. Inside Higher Ed: "Experts say that modern pop culture -- from HBO's "Rome" to Angelina Jolie's Latin tattoo -- is increasing student interest in the ancient language." Well, yes, it could be that too. I'm not sure what it says about Canadian students that their educational choices are influenced by Angelina Jolie's tattoos...

I'm really glad to see that students are still signing up for "impractical" courses during a recession. They get so much pressure from their parents and peers to sign up for courses like business management and computer science, and stay away from the things that won't further their careers; and that's when the economy is humming along! The pressure must be much more intense now. I'm glad they're still eager to explore whatever subjects interest them. Whether you're interested in Business Accounting or in Medieval Studies, it's always the best policy to spend your life doing what makes you happy.

Also, it sort of puts the lie to the idea that interest in the humanities will just keep declining at a steady pace until the Latin teachers are all living in caves and eating insects. I don't imagine that in ten years time Canadians will all be wearing togas and speaking Latin. But I do think these things go in cycles and any renewed interest in the Western heritage is welcome news.


Holly said...

Hey, nice cut!

I ... am having trouble making a connection between a tattoo or a tv show, and the urge to enroll in a course that is probably extraneous to every other thing in the student's life.

Not to sound, I don't know? Judgmental? But that sure seems like the recipe for dropping out, or being the douche who sits in class texting and then crying when they get an F-.

However! I agree; good that the electives are still seeing some action.

Rufus said...

In general, I think if 20 students take the course, maybe 2 or 3 will decide they want to go on and do something with it. As long as you get them hooked, there's new blood, right? And, for a while, at least, university admins won't be wanting to cut their Classics Department budget.

It's entirely possible that the "experts" are wrong about the motivation. Students get interested in things for different reasons. I had a student a year ago who came to see me because he was worried that he didn't know any classical music. It was good to see, if a bit random.

I will also confess that I seem to remember getting interested in history at a very young age because Indiana Jones knew so much about it!

I am very glad about the cut- it took about three hours of screwing with the template last night to get that to work.

drk said...

My younger daughter recently started her intro to Latin class and is loving it. All the sixth graders at her school are required to take one trimester. In seventh grade they can decide between French, Spanish, Chinese and Latin. Currently, she is determined to continue taking Latin forever. I do think that the excitement may have more to do with an outstanding teacher than the love of the language.

Rufus said...

That's a really good idea on the part of the school. My father took Latin in High School, back when everyone took Latin in High School, and he loved it. Of course, back then, they still did the mass in Latin, so he finally understood what the priest was saying!

I think because I was in a vocational program, they never made me study any languages in middle school or high school, and I sort of regret it. Latin was hard for me when I did it in university, but afterwards, learning French was a snap. And I've been told that it helps with some of the other professions- I've met a few lawyers who were studying it because it helped them understand a number of legal terms.

Of course, it's funny because I talk about how some people call Latin impractical, but I've always been a bit envious of people who go on to get degrees in Latin or Greek, because there are always jobs for them. It's not always the case with French historians!