Latin class provides students an opportunity to explore Latin and the world of Ancient Rome. While the language and culture may seem distant from today, the benefits of an education in Latin are infinite.
Latin terms and phrases are used in modern science (binomial nomenclature, bones of the body), law (habeas corpus, mens rea), politics (ad hoc, quorum), money (e pluribus unum, annuit coeptis), and common usage ([sic], A.D., AM/PM, i.e., N.B., etc.). The Latin language is the basis for technical terms in advanced fields such as science, medicine, law, and politics. Using and understanding Latin terms is one mark of an educated person.
Studying Latin grammar and vocabulary increases students’ literacy in English. Latin reinforces awareness of grammar rules (e.g., parts of speech, verb tense) that lead to better writing. About 60% of English words are derived from Latin. With practice, students see connections and can determine the meaning of unknown English words through familiar Latin words.
A good knowledge of Roman culture has two advantages. On one hand, our culture derives from European culture, which was formed by the Romans. Thus, there are many institutions that we take directly from Rome (education, coined currency, live entertainment, medicine). Topics like Roman government and geography reinforce content from other middle school subjects.
On the other hand, Roman culture allows students to increase their knowledge of their own culture by examining the differences. Knowing how things used to be — what could be — makes us examine how things are, and why. Wearing togas seems silly to students, but is wearing a suit any more practical? Why is slavery, which was so common in Ancient Rome, abolished today?
Latin class is broad and interdisciplinary. It’s about people long ago and people today. It’s one language but also the foundation for many languages and fields. Even as some dismiss its value, its legacy pervades our society. We in Rutherford are proud to teach Latin.