Friday, April 11, 2008


What makes a "teacher's guide"?  Is it the editor's helpful notes on lesson planning or specific problems in the text?  Is it the guidance in effective approaches, or making connections to secondary material?  Is it the insight into the editor's intent and the choices made in selection and presentation, that allow you to make up your mind as to whether you agree, and if not how to adapt?

I suspect it's all these things and more.  What a "teacher's guide" is not, however, is a bare set of translations for teachers who don't have enough Latin to read the texts they're assigning to their students.

This is what I found today when I received a new classroom set of Minkova & Tunberg's Reading Livy's Rome (Bolchazy-Carducci).

When ordering the book, one receives no hint of the subtitle: "Translation of Paraphrases," or the blurb headed "Ease the Time Crunch of Daily Classroom Preparation."  Reading bits of Latin is the least of my concerns as a teacher, and yet it's the one area in which a teacher of Latin can least afford to cut corners.  I neither need nor can benefit from translations: I know Latin well enough to read it, and only by reading it (rather than a translation) can I anticipate and respond to the difficulties my students will face.

Was I wrong to expect a "guide" or was Bolchazy-Carducci wrong to call it that?

I was acting a time crunch when I ordered the materials, being told during the last period of the day that I had until the final bell to put together an order.  So it may be argued that I was rash in ordering copies of the "guide" for my colleague and myself.  And yet if it had been appropriately titled, or explained at all, on the publisher's site, my school could have purchased two more student texts instead.

Then again I might have guessed from the "guide" to Boyd's Aeneid selections.

Isn't there a better name for this sort of thing?  Like "trot"?

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