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The Carletonian

A “Dead” Language, Revivus

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The old is new at Greenvale Elementary School, where some 40 third, fourth, and fifth graders have signed up for Latin Club, which is facilitated by Latin 204 students.

Classics professor Rob Hardy started the club, and it is a collaboration between St. Olaf, Carleton and the community.

Latin students and professors from both colleges, as well as one homeschooled Northfield student, create curriculum and lead the club every other Wednesday in the Media Center at Greenvale. The club focuses on teaching the basics of Latin as well as Roman culture and the ways in which it appears in everyday life.

A similar program at Dickinson and interested students inspired Hardy to start the club.

“I’ve taught Latin on the elementary and mostly middle school and high school level before,” he said. “I thought there was interest out there, and I’ve had kids in Northfield come to me and ask: ‘Can you teach me Latin?’ Because it hasn’t been offered in the Northfield high schools since 1976, so the club fills a kind of gap.”

Hardy attributes the newfound interest in Latin to the popularity of the Percy Jackson fiction series, which are imbued with information about roman culture and mythology.

“They think the ancient world is cool,” he said. “I asked kids what they knew about classics, and one of them basically knew the story of the Aeneid.

“It was pretty sophisticated. They know quite a bit, so part of the club just responds to what their interests are.”

The club is surprisingly popular in that the first meetings attracted twice the anticipated number of students.

In response to those who say, “Latin is dead,” Hardy said elementary and college students alike can learn from the club.

“In a way, the mental training you get from algebra is the same as in Latin. Even if you don’t learn how to read Latin or you aren’t going to go on to read Virgil, for vocabulary learning and the connections with Spanish and other languages, I think the etymologies in Latin can teach students a lot.”

Furthermore, for Hardy’s Latin 204 class, teaching the club provides Carls knowledge they would not find in the classroom.

From students interested in teaching Latin in the future to those looking to practice more conversational language, Latin club allows Carleton students to practice new skills.

After the success of this pilot term, Hardy is looking to create more infrastructure to continue the club.

Right now, Hardy would like to involve students beyond those in Latin 204. He would also like to collaborate more with St. Olaf and potentially take on student workers to create lesson plans.

But for now, the club is going to make the most of its last four sessions of the term.

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