Thursday, October 06, 2005

A lot to say...

I have a lot to say, so let me get started by giving Dennis the virtual high five for entering the classroom. I have to say that my life has never before made more sense than it does at the present time. I love being in that classroom and I hope that even as tomorrow strikes you, you will have some ember of an appreciation for the magic of being a GOOD teacher. As for the little snots (shites is a great term, too), let them sit in the bathroom for as long as they like. Let them smoke weed in the stalls, let them smoke crack; as long as they will be sure to OD before coming back into my ROOM. I want them out of my class! Don't waste my precious time! I advise you generally not to smile much at ALL, if you are able, since you are a sub. Try not to listen to their murderously sub-neanderthal conversations (if you are in study hall duty). Youths have to be trained to have decent conversations and no one is training these kids. Oh, but you are proctoring tests! Keep an eye on them as they do those tests. They know the system and they know where to put a little index card (right between their legs) with all the 3rd principle parts written in the tiniest letters you've ever seen. I love them, but they are who they are.
I will check out those websites. I am right now generally looking for Latin texts that are REAL, on the internet, can be read by students of lower levels (with some degree of support), and show the language being used artfully. I found this one fantastic set of readings (gesta Romanorum) and I also like to try Publilius (that's what they call him on the Latin, but I thought his name was Publius) Syrus. We also do Vulgate Latin and Thomas Aquinas because generally, it's just easier stuff. I hunger for material that has less passive constructions and less subjunctives. It's basically impossible to find that kind of stuff, bu I am finding ways to help my students along in passages with Latin constructions they've never seen before. The truly unfortunate thing about Latin textbook series overall is that they do not vary the word order in the readings enough for it to make sense for the students to memorize proficiently those noun endings. Furthermore, the style of the textbook writers is just simply atrocious, because quite obviously they have no CONCEPT of style. But students do, and the book (Oxford Latin) is a bore for them. These are students with a whole IPOD full of artists expressing complex emotions and ideas. Do you think they want to read about Scintilla and Flaccus going to market? These textbook series, I believe, are seriously crippling the progress of student interest in Latin in the country. When I work with the word order and the students use their dictionaries on a daily basis (from the very first year), suddenly the language is extremely FUN for them. It's like another world suddenly. Suddenly, suddenly.

I wrote Reggie a small note a few weeks ago, saying something like:

Dear Reggie,
I am teaching Latin by your method as best I can. I taught last year using those textbooks you used to rage about in class. I see now what is wrong with them. I am teaching Latin your way, and I am really DYING for the language. I don't sleep anymore. You sent me out as Father Zosima sent out Alyosha. I miss you a lot. I hope your health is better and that the surgery went well. If you need money for photocopies or anything else, please let me know.

This is what he wrote back on a postcard (I just got it tonight...) in four different colors of ink:

Pridie Kalendas Octobres m m v.
TIONIS. I am happy you are sharing
with others in the classroom and are
on fire with Latin. The time has passed
and after our 20th "AESTIVA" and vacation (aestiva is the summer program)
in Wisconsin, I am back waiting for the
pope to do something AND preparing also
for a full year of 5 experiences at the (experiences are the levels of Latin -
University in a few weeks. My health he teaches five preps.)
is fine, as my legs and feet have by
nature healed. I am better = worse than
ever, and have energy and ideas for a
long time to come. The no-Latin crisis
in the Catholic church will grow, and I
do not know what THEY will do about it.
I always speak about more interest-study
of Ltin outside than inside. SO you must
continue your zealous no-sleep efforts.

The only thing that bothered me about the letter was that he put a macron over the A in PECUNIA. Did I seem that stupid in his class?
But otherwise, the letter took me to the third level of Nirvana. When I got the letter, my heart was pounding. I am actually going to stay up tonight and finish grading my homework assignments, just as I know that Reggie does. The whole night. I am pulling an all-nighter as a teacher. Well, unfortunately, my workaholic habits have done more than made me lose sleep. I have lost 15 pounds in the last three months. I work like a raving madman. I am actually dying for the Latin language. I don't really care, because I actually feel happy. I think I won't mind dying like this. When I tried to DIE for graduate school, I was always miserable. Perhaps I have found my true home...
Anyway, either I will die or something beautiful will come out of all of this. I am betting on the second of the two. I guess I better get started grading now.

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