Learning Latin in West Philadelphia

romanesA charter school in West Philadelphia named Boys’ Latin is offering compulsory courses in Latin, says an article in the WSJ.

“The traditional arguments for studying Latin are well known. More than half of English words have Latin roots, so students who learn Latin improve their vocabularies and linguistic skills. In addition, the discipline of studying Latin—the logic, the structure, the rigor—helps train young minds to think more clearly and systematically. All these arguments Mr. Hardy [the school’s chief executive officer] accepts and occasionally invokes himself. But for him Latin is also a way of addressing the most wretched fact of today’s Philly school system: Only 8% of young black men who graduate from one of the city’s public high schools will go on to a four-year college degree.”

And more arguments are listed in favor: because Latin “immediately raises expectations all around”; “you can’t fake it”, and “satisfaction … comes from [the] achievement when these boys learn it”; “partly it’s the school’s thing”, “it builds identity and esprit de corps.”; “it’s also what helps make Boys’ Latin attractive to the Philadelphia School Partnership, an influential group of donors whose mission is to get more of the city’s kids into great schools—and put more on the path to college.”

And the results? “Boys’ Latin is not without its critics, who point to so-so scores on state tests. Mr. Hardy argues that the scores, which have been rising, are still better than the alternatives for most young men in West Philly. For him the most important measure is that his students are getting their college degrees.”

Let’s see how things will evolve in the future.

PS1. As I was browsing through blog themes WordPress offers (it’s a new blog, so I’m trying out things), I noticed that blog templates are half in English and half in Latin.

PS2. To understand the image above, click here to see an excerpt from the “Life of Brian”, a 1979 Monty Pythons’ film.

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