Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Diverse Brilliance

We are fortunate in Washington Township to allow our eighth grade students to come to North Central from their middle schools to begin their first year of study in one of our seven world languages.  As a result, we have students in Latin V (Latin 9/10) as seniors.  Some of them prepare for the International Baccalaureate diploma, but others take the year as an opportunity to engage in independent study of areas of particular interest to them.

This year we have eight Latin V students, and after spending the first quarter reading Ovid with those who are preparing for the IB diploma, some of them are now planning what they want to pursue this quarter.  It is impossible to say how intelligent and creative this group of seniors is.  As juniors they were already engaging our studies at a collegiate level.  Their insights are at times breathtaking.  It comes as no surprise, then, the depth and diversity of their thinking about independent study.

One young man has been reading about Stoicism.  I asked him some guiding questions, and he replied with a detailed approach to how he wants to explore this important school of ancient thought.  From his early research, he knows what he wants to read and from what authors.  He has developed his own guiding framework.  I suggested he incorporate a piece in which he explores his own thoughts about the tenets of Stoicism.  Largely, this was just for me.  I am eager to see how his mind works.

Another student, inspired by this, wants to pursue Epicureanism through the work of Lucretius and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

One young man wants to marry his Latin work with his passion for theatre.  He will be exploring the works of Roman comedy and tragedy.

I met with one young lady from the class today to discuss her own philosophical interests, but the discussion quickly turned to the composition of Latin poetry.  She is an author and poet, but wanted to compose more Latin poetry in an extension of a project we had done last year.  I introduced her to Vates:  The Journal of New Latin Poetry and the Gradus ad Parnassum.  We talked about the standard dactylic hexameter and the variety of other meters used by Horace and Catullus.  It was clear from the light in her eye that this is the direction she wants to go.  I cannot wait to see what she produces.  I encouraged her to keep notes on her process, for this will make a fine introduction to the small book of Latin poetry that is her goal.

To say that I am excited by what these students will pursue is an understatement.  It is all part of the joy and old-fashioned fun of teaching Latin!

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