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Paul Baxter

I'm not clear on why exactly you are arguing for classics in early education or what the advantage is over studying modern languages. I've become dubious of educational strategies aimed at "training" students to deal with some future situation (usually not specified).

Surely any advantage which comes out of, say, studying grammar as an activity would come just as well with studying a modern language, not that I'm convinced that this is an especially great advantage. If the classical writings themselves are thought to be advantageous, then they are likely to be just as, or nearly as valuable in translation.

Could add some further dimensions to this, but that's probably enough for now.

DF

Paul, thanks for reading and commenting. And thanks for prompting me to explain further. I don't like long blog posts, so I don't necessarily spell out everything I think on a topic, but if someone comments I'm off and running again.

As to Latin and Greek over modern languages for fostering critical thinking skills, I have some thoughts, but I want to emphasize that I LOVE modern languages and think they should be taught in their proper place.

Latin and Greek over modern languages as an educational tool:

1. The depth and complexity of the ancient literary languages fosters strong critical thinking skills. Modern languages are much less complex-- which is actually good and an advantage, since they are designed as communication devices for millions of people. But the depth of the complexity of Latin and Greek makes for excellent training of the brain.

2. Modern languages emphasize communication skills, which are excellent things to know-- but the best way to do this quickly is by actually going to a different culture and learning there. Learning a language in a target country is fast and easy.

3. After learning Latin and Greek, modern languages are much easier to manage. Combined with time spent abroad, modern languages should not take much effort at all.

4. The content of Latin and Greek is foundational to the Western world. Every discipline is represented, from literature to history to law to medicine and science. Combining the excellent training of learning the languages themselves with the very strong, important content found in the ancient languages makes for a potent educational tool.

Hope this helps!

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