I usually read your emailed newsletters because, for the most part, I find your observations thought-provoking.
I’m writing to tell you that you continue to fail to convince me of the benefits of studying classics, particularly the learning of Latin – my own experience of which (I concede) is entirely vicarious. Both my two sons were fortunate in winning music scholarships to Eton College, where Latin still looms large on the timetable. Both sons dropped the subject at the earliest opportunity, which they considered nowhere near early enough. Similarly, time spent enduring Latin lessons as choristers at St Paul’s Cathedral was time ill-used – the boys were hard-pressed enough as it was, what with singing in the cathedral for three hours a day, six days a week – and with three instrumental skills to practise. Now in their mid-twenties, neither of them know any more Latin than I do (i.e. semper fidelis, per adua per astra, quid pro quo, illegitimi non carborundum, i.e., e.g. and etcetera). Read more
The Classics Faculty at the University of Oxford is considering whether to remove from its undergraduate courses the compulsory study in their original languages of Homer and Vergil. The reasons given are that students from independent schools, where some classical teaching is kept up, tend at the moment to do better in examinations than students from state schools, and that men do better than women. I regard this as the most important news of the week. I do so partly because I make some of my living from these languages, and so have a financial interest in their survival. I do so mainly because I see the proposal as a further enemy advance in the Culture War through which we have been living for at least the past two generations. Read more
Yesterday, Dr Sean Gabb spoke on the Stephen Nolan show, on BBC Radio 5, about a joke made by Michael Gove on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme.
Below, we have excerpted all of Dr Gabb’s comments made in that interview. If you would like to listen to them, please click on the audio file link below.
(The interviewer spent quite some time speaking to another guest, Shelagh Fogarty, both before and after Dr Gabb’s comments. If you would like to listen to the full interview, please click on this link and go to about 1:56:45.)