Response to A Latin Story – 2

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11 thoughts on “Response to A Latin Story – 2”

  1. We DO teach grammar! We don’t teach the “language of grammar.”
    TCI kids will have more accuracy on any test of real-time communication. TCI kids know how to make meaning of the language and have internalized lots of form (especially the syntax), whereas the traditional kids who have focused mostly on form cannot make meaning in real-time and can only use grammar with conscious thought. Where there is conscious thought, there has not yet been acquisition.

  2. and being exhausted has made this harder to deal with. You have done an amazing, as you described it, Herculean job. Take a deep breath. Tread water for a little while. Contact the people who keep you sane. Drink whatever coffee/tea/beer/wine/beverage relaxes you and enjoy every sip.
    You are going to need to create some emotional boundaries for yourself and I don’t want you to be do exhausted to do that. Without boundaries, everything attacks us: comments, looks, actions and germs. Together they are very hard to recover from.
    You have our support. You even have our permission to slow down a bit and be semi-Herculean. Really.
    You are loved,

  3. It seems like bullying CI Latin teachers has become a popular hobby these days. A few thoughts on this situation…
    1) We all know the kids who are fighting back against you. These are the kids who took Latin SPECIFICALLY because they didn’t want to participate in the communicative element of most modern language classrooms. A traditional Latin class is almost indistinguishable from a traditional math class. It’s all formulae, logic puzzles, decoding and abstract reasoning. For these reasons, a traditional Latin student is the kind of student who would voluntarily add an elective math class to their full academic load. By the time you get to Latin III or IV you are usually left with only a handful of anxious overachievers and students with significant social skills deficits. These kids view Latin as “their” class for “their” type of people. An exclusive club that weeds out their more socially developed peers. These students end up becoming Latin teachers because they found so much pleasure and success in this kind of elite little community. The introduction of CI into a traditionally trained Latin group is seen as something like adding an all-you-can buffet to most expensive restaurant in Paris. You are letting the ruffians into their world and changing the culture.
    2) If you teach Latin I, I would consider starting full CI there. I teach 7th and 8th graders and this is my first year of full TCI. My 7th graders absolutely love it and have completely embraced this approach. Those kids and their parents are my strongest supporters. 99% of that positivity is due to how incredible CI practices are, even when done poorly, when experienced without active resistance. They also think that CI is just what Latin class is and don’t have anything to compare it to. Your new style will initially scare off your typical Latin student, you will find a wider demographic of kids flocking to your class. Ultimately they will see that you are an outstanding teacher who values all types of students and your traditional kids will find a home with you as well.
    3) Standardized testing…WTF!? The Latin AP exam and SAT have no redeemable qualities. While the modern language equivalents have taken baby steps forward, the Latin ones are taking giant steps backwards. The proficiency learned in a CI modern language class may potentially overlap with at least some of the skills tested in these exams. Proficiency makes up ZERO percent of these worthless Latin exams. What we do in a CI Latin class is extremely incompatible with these putrid assessments. We need to support each other in pushing back against these exams that are encourage worst practices in language teaching. I hate that those parents tried to use that against you. My traditional colleagues try to use those against me as well.
    4) Rigor – The Latin word meaning stiffness, inflexibility, rigidity, numbness, cramp, spasm, rudeness, severity.
    5) You are doing incredible groundbreaking work. Your teaching is heroic. I know how terrible it can feel to be bullied by so many people and from so many directions. Please know that we are here to support you 🙂

    1. The US Department of State on Rigor:
      An academic program is rigorous when there is:
      depth and integrity of inquiry: Many teachers have expressed concern that there is too much curricular material to “cover” and not enough time to teach it in. Academic rigor implies that sufficient time be devoted to a topic or unit of study and that students would have an opportunity to explore it in depth, developing questions as they go along.
      sustained focus: Some students may need assistance and training to persevere on a given subject so that there would be the opportunity to study a topic in depth.
      suspension of premature conclusions: Our nature is to find confirmation for our hunches, and this tendency often limits our possible conclusions. Academic rigor suggests that we train students in their individual work and research to continue to search for the one exception that disproves the hypothesis.
      continuous testing of hypotheses: Even after being certain that our hypotheses are supported by evidence, we need to continue to test and re-test in different situations and under different circumstances.
      Robert Harrell on the Department of State
      1. Any time a curriculum or scope and sequence is planned so that a certain number of chapters in textbook are covered, it is not rigorous because it falls into the trap of “too much curricular material to ‘cover’.” TCI allows for depth and integrity of inquiry; it is therefore more rigorous than a course in linguistics (which is merely onerous).
      2. Worksheets and constantly changing activities do not require sustained focus; in fact, they are a perfect matrix for not only catering to but perpetuating short attention spans. TCI requires students to sustain focus as they participate in the class discussion in the target language, a truly rigorous undertaking.
      3. Providing students with “rules of grammar” at the outset is the precise opposite of suspension of premature conclusions because learners are presented with the conclusions before they have even encountered the content (language). By encouraging students to form their own conclusions about what is correct language through prolonged exposure (and sustained focus) to it, TCI is obviously far more rigorous than other methods.
      4. Having been provided with conclusions (i.e. “rules of grammar”), students have no opportunity to test their hypotheses because they have failed to develop any; instead this entire aspect of rigor has been excised from the curriculum in favor of onerous exercises with the result that students fail to become critical, creative thinkers or lifelong learners. TCI encourages students to be critical in comparing their language with the correct language they hear and read, be creative by figuring out how to express their ideas, opinions, needs, wants, etc. with the language they have acquired, and be lifelong learners through knowing how languages are acquired apart from sitting in a classroom.
      As the Department of State website points out, these students, parents, and administrators have confused “rigorous” with “onerous” to the detriment of all concerned.

      1. Everyone here is rooting for you. I leave you with the following conflicting pieces of advice; you will, I hope, know when and how to apply each one:
        Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you yourself also be like him.
        Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own estimation.

      2. Your repeated reminder of the official understanding of rigor and its superior expression in the TCI classroom a are an invaluable contribution as we hear terms batted about in our schools. Thank you.

    2. To echo John a little bit with some attacks Latin teachers get (at least in my experience):
      Latin has been praised for its ability to help people become more logical (and help for SAT’s and things of that nature), but it seems to me that this is because the ordinary thing has been to study the grammar. Studying grammar helps develop one’s logical thinking skills.
      I’m in a school – St. Jerome Academy (Maryland) – which has recently written and implemented a new classically based curriculum with Latin as its language (and is currently working on a high school along similar lines). Very few people thinking about the curriculum are even aware that Latin can be taught as a language, and if they are, there are objections: I just want to “read” (i.e. translate), and i don’t need to speak the language (as if real reading didn’t require fluency/thinking in the language). So I find many people see Latin as a tool for other things and not so much as a language to be learned or think that translation is a sufficient skill to have (though these are often very bright people who survive the decoding of Latin into English and can do it very fast).
      This is a battle I find that I need to fight often: some think in fact we just want to learn grammar (though eventually often they admit that in addition they wouldn’t mind if the student could “read” too). So at least with Latin we do teach grammar (they know the meaning) but not formally and so not in a way that helps logical thinking (and hence the objections).

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