Classical Greek in Pioneer Valley Schools: A Symposium

Survey of the Teaching of Classical Greek in American Schools - Questionnaire: Inventory of Classical Greek Teaching in the Schools - Established Programs - New Programs - Greek by Inclusion - Discussion Topics - Classical Greek in Pioneer Valley Schools

Classical Greek in Pioneer Valley Schools:
A Symposium

Saturday, June 2, 2001
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Herter 301
1:00–4:00 p.m.

Survey of the Teaching of Classical Greek
in American Schools

Gilbert Lawall
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

In the Spring 2000 issue of the Athenaze Newsletter, which you have as a handout, I published a series of articles on the teaching of Classical Greek in non-traditional contexts in high schools. By “non-traditional contexts,” I meant such things as inclusion of Greek instruction in Latin courses or some form of independent study with instruction provided outside regularly scheduled class periods. The issue of non-traditional teaching of Classical Greek was discussed at a mini-conference that I held last summer, attended by Luigi Miraglia from Italy, the editor of the Italian version of Athenaze, and by Jessica Mix Barrington of the Northfield Mount Hermon School, Nina Barclay of the Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut, Peter Brush of Deerfield Academy, and Deborah Davies of the Brooks School, who is in charge of the National Greek Exam. At this mini-conference there was a consensus that a national survey of Greek teaching in the schools, including non-traditional teaching, should be undertaken and that it should be asked whether there is need for a new textbook for use in non-traditional contexts and whether there is need for a new national Greek exam geared to the level of achievement that can be expected in non-traditional instructional contexts.

Last fall I sent out a questionnaire (current version appended) to all school teachers on my New England-wide data base who had identified themselves as teaching Greek and to all on the nation-wide list of Greek teachers kept by the American Classical League (about 280 teachers in all). I also placed the questionnaire in a number of classical journals and newsletters throughout the country and posted it on my website.

To date I have received slightly more than 150 replies, 149 of which are now posted on my website, the address of which is on the questionnaire. Thirty-six of the 149 responses came from public schools; 113 from private or Catholic schools. Eighty-four respondents indicate that their schools offer a regular course or courses in Classical Greek. Sixty-nine respondents indicate that they teach Classical Greek in some non-traditional context. Fifty-two indicate that they feel there is a need for a new introduction to Greek book that would meet the needs of non-traditional instruction. Seventy-five indicate a desire for a National Greek Exam that would be equivalent to the Introduction to Latin Exam offered by the National Latin Exam Committee and would have a syllabus about half that of the Attic Greek I syllabus.

Thirty respondents indicate that they teach Classical Greek as some form of independent study, and twenty-seven indicate that they include instruction in Classical Greek in their regular Latin courses.

Let me briefly report some of the more interesting things that teachers and schools are doing out there.

Andrea Craig at La Jolla High School in California teaches a multi-level ancient Greek class with four first-year students and three second-year.

Melissa Moss continues the tradition at the Williams School in New London, Connecticut, of giving equal time to Greek alongside of Latin in the third level of classical language instruction, using Ecce Romani III and Athenaze I; this combination of Latin and Greek continues in the fourth level, and in the fifth students may opt for AP Vergil or more Greek.

Andrew Aronson at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, introduces Greek in Latin III and then has students read short passages from the Iliad and the Odyssey in Greek in his AP Vergil class and passages of Sappho in Greek in his AP Catullus/Horace class.

Wallace Ragan at St. Albans School in Washington, DC, plans to begin teaching Athenaze once a week in the third quarter of her Latin I class, which uses Ecce Romani. She writes: “I polled the students and they seemed excited by the prospect.”

Soteria George of Holbrook, Massachusetts, taught Greek for two years to eighth grade students “as an exploratory arts course every other day.”

Carl Lenhart, now at Barnstable High School in Hyannis, Massachusetts, does amazing things with Greek: Three years ago in Indiana, he taught Greek instead of Latin to some students in his fourth year Latin class, finishing Athenaze I and fifteen chapters of Chase and Phillips; also in Indiana he taught a three-week intensive course on Greek to ten students meeting four to five hours a day in a coffeehouse; in Hyannis now, he frequently inserts Greek into his Latin classes, especially at the second year level and above, and he cooperates with a World Literature teacher by teaching segments of the Odyssey in Greek to the students in the World Lit class and by helping the World Lit teacher stage a bilingual segment of Oedipus Rex.

Tamara Bauer at Pierce Middle School in Milton, Massachusetts, teaches an after-school Greek program for students of grades 6, 7, and 8, once a week for forty-five minutes.

Kathleen Prins (UMass MAT ‘76) at Cony High School in Augusta, Maine, teaches the first fifteen chapters of Clyde Pharr’s Homeric Greek on an independent study basis with her Latin IV students; they memorize the first seven lines of the Iliad in meter.

The Thomas Jefferson School in St. Louis, Missouri, requires two years of Greek of all students who enter the ninth grade; they, too, use Pharr’s Homeric Greek.

Anthony Pontone, Ph.D., at Great Neck North Senior High School in Great Neck, New York, offers as independent study a full Greek program from Crosby and Schaeffer to Sophocles and Euripides and a full Greek Literature and Civilization program with a wide range of readings from Homer to Plato and units on art and architecture, culminating in a classical tour to Italy and Greece.

Heidi Houst at Princeton Latin Academy in Princeton, New Jersey, reports that her school “offers Greek to every child, starting in grade 3 and continuing through grade 8.” They have fifty students taking Greek and use Groton and Finn’s A Course in Attic Greek.

Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, New York, offers a model Greek sequence for a private school. Beginning with a combination of Athenaze and Chase and Phillips, students may progress through five levels of Greek and read from Herodotus, Gorgias, Homer, lyric poets, Euripides, and Plato in addition to several anthologies.

Barbara Kuebler at Mount Mercy Academy in Buffalo, New York, has her students do two weeks of Greek in the last quarter of Latin IV; she teaches the alphabet, transliteration, roots, and a few vocabulary words and has her students read and watch Greek drama and do a paper on one of Euripides’ plays.

Townsend Harris High School at Queens College in Flushing, New York, requires four semesters of a classical language from its students, with most taking Latin but a self-selecting elite choosing Classical Greek. Fifty-nine students are currently in the program.

Two years ago Jeff Greenberger was successful in getting Greek instated at Riverhead High School in Riverhead, New York. Attrition and graduation, however, take their toll; while Mr. Greenberger had sixteen eleventh and twelfth graders in Greek I last year, he has only four continuing with Greek II this year; they are combined with eight beginners in the same forty-five minute period. Mr. Greenberger remarks, “As is often the case in such a setting, the results have been mixed—though all the kids seem to be enjoying the material and the class.”

Vi Patek of South Salem, New York, who admits she has never studied Greek and knows only what she has taught herself from Athenaze, plunges her AP students into Greek for a month after the AP exam. She reports that her students “love writing the Greek letters and reading the Greek aloud in less than a week.”

David Rich of the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, teaches Greek “outside of the curriculum with great success (7:30–8:30 a.m.). In four levels, his students progress from the JACT Greek course through Xenophon’s Anabasis, Plato’s Apology, Homer’s Iliad, and Plato’s Symposium.

Alongside a regularly structured four-level Greek sequence, Lee Pearcy at Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania, offers a “Greek week” as part of Latin II, introducing the alphabet and basic etymology.

Meredith Malloy at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia offers a combined Latin II/Greek I course, in which both the Latin II syllabus and chapters 1–10 of Athenaze are completed in one year. Students may then continue with Greek II the following year.

Marla Neal at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has a regular fourth year Latin class “for girls who aren’t up to the challenge of AP.” These girls learn Greek along with their fourth year Latin by choosing to devote either the fourth quarter or every Friday to Greek.

Jenny Lynn Fields at Saint Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, Tennessee, teaches Greek before school from 7:00–7:45 Tuesdays and Thursdays. By the end of November her students were in chapter 14 of Athenaze; she reports that she spends a lot of time telling her students stories from Herodotus and that her students are “very comfortable readers of Greek.”

Nancy Howell at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, teaches the Greek alphabet and simple recognition of words to her Greek and Latin Derivatives class and her Latin III class. She also teaches a four-day, two-hours-a-day course called “Greek in a Week” to freshmen during the school’s interim program. By Thursday her students are reading from John I and Homer’s Iliad.

James Houlihan of the Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas, teaches independent study Greek twice a week during lunch hour. He teaches three levels and began with twenty students in 1997. His Greek III students have finished the Symposium and are reading lyric poetry.

Richard Evans of St. Thomas Episcopal School in Houston, Texas, introduces the Greek alphabet in seventh grade Latin together with the first and second declensions “in order to stimulate interest in Greek I for Grade 8.” He believes that “introductory Greek programs could be combined with beginning Latin texts, drawing on the students’ knowledge of Latin forms and syntax.”

Jim Bigger in Arlington, Virginia, usually does a two to four week unit of Greek “following the AP Latin exam or sometimes in the fourth quarter of Latin III.”

Jeanne Larsen of Woodbridge, Virginia, has a “Greek week” in May in her Latin II class, teaching the alphabet, a few words, the numbers 1–10, and so forth.

I have singled out for mention today some of the more unusual things that are happening in the schools; I have not dwelt on the established, sequential programs in private and Jesuit schools, but this is not in any way intended to belittle their importance. I have wanted, instead, to report more innovative things that might give us ideas for how Greek can be introduced into schools, public, private, or parochial, where there is not a long tradition of Greek studies.

What are my plans for the future of this survey? I plan to continue seeking information from other teachers of Greek throughout the country during the coming year, to publicize the availability of the responses to the questionnaire on my website as a who’s who of Greek teachers in order to facilitate networking and sharing of experiences, strategies, and materials, and to develop my website as a materials and resource center for both traditional and non-traditional teachers of Greek. All of this will be linked with Ginny Lindzey’s “Greek Too” website in Austin, Texas, and I plan to keep in touch with the National Committee for Latin and Greek and its about-to-be-reconstituted Committee for the Promotion of Greek, which will be chaired by Conrad Barrett at the California State University at Long Beach. Ginny Lindzey’s email and website addresses are: email— ginlindzey@austin.rr.com: website— http://www.txclassics.org/greek.htm.

Back to Top

Inventory of Classical Greek Teaching in the Schools

Versions of the following questionnaire were widely distributed in Fall 2000 and Spring 2001 and will continue to be distributed in Fall 2001 and Spring 2002. The responses are posted on Gil Lawall’s website:

http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~glawall/greeksch.html

TO: Fellow Greek Teachers:

I am preparing an inventory of Classical Greek programs in the schools. I am intrigued by the number of Latin teachers who are introducing Greek to their Latin students at some point in their Latin sequence or are teaching Greek in non-traditional contexts, such as before school, during lunch periods, after school, as independent study, or as part of Latin Club activities.

1. Does your school offer a regular course or courses in Classical Greek? YES NO

    If YES, please list the courses and levels offered, indicate approximate enrollments in each course, and indicate the textbook used in each course. Please use the reverse of this letter.

2. Do you teach Greek in any non-traditional context, i.e., at some point in your Latin sequence or before school, during lunch periods, after school, as independent study, or as part of Latin Club activities, etc.? YES NO

    If YES, please briefly describe your teaching of Greek. I would like to facilitate a support network among those teaching Greek in non-traditional contexts.

3. Is there a need for a new Introduction to Greek book that would meet the needs of such teachers better than existing textbooks, which are constructed with traditional sequences of Greek instruction in mind? YES NO

    If YES, what might it contain? How much grammar? Stories? Culture? Etymology? (Please jot down your ideas. Would you like to help author such a book?)

4. Is there a need for a National Greek Exam that would be the equivalent of the Introduction to Latin Exam offered by the National Latin Exam Committee? YES NO

Those who teach Classical Greek at the school level and have not responded to this questionnaire are urged to do so. Their replies will be added into this report. Send replies to Professor Gilbert Lawall, Department of Classics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-3905 or via e-mail: glawall@classics.umass.edu. Questions or comments may be addressed to the same.

Back to Top

Established Programs

Peter Brush: Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass.
Jessica Mix Barrington: Northfield Mount Hermon School, Northfield, Mass.

Peter Brush
Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass.

Sneaking Greek into our curriculum was a trick I pulled on the administration because of selfish motives. There were historical precedents in our school for offering, to borrow Winston Churchill’s line, “Greek as a treat.” A handfiil of students were eager for the challenge, too. Mainly, however, I desired to keep my knowledge fresh and strengthen it through teaching. Since I offered to teach Greek as an extra course—and I still do, when I have students in more than one level—and since I worked over the summer on arranging student schedules, they had little choice but to let me have my way.

Chase and Phillips was the first textbook for my classes. Then I discovered Schoder and Horrigan’s A Reading Course in Homeric Greek. After a fast-paced, streamlined introduction to the forms and fundamentals of grammar, the students finished the first year reading excerpts of the Cyclops story from the Odyssey. It was bloody fun. Now and again we got to do the second year and make connections with the Aeneid for many of the students. About ten years ago, Gil Lawall enticed me into the pilot program for Athenaze, a book that has engaged my students and inspired many to thrive as learners of the language of Pericles.

Most of my students come from advanced Latin classes and enjoy positive transfers of knowledge as we conduct the class in three or more languages. Some come out of a desire to explore their Greek ancestry, others out of intellectual curiosity. In a few days, their friends are lost if they try to read the lessons.

If three wish to gather in Pericles’ name, we fly the course. A second or third year is available in small classes or tutorial sessions. In good years, we get a couple of stories into the second book in the introductory course. Athenaze is a rich textbook, and we always seem to be fighting the clock and the calendar. In recent years, I have done Lysias’ Murder of Eratosthenes and Plato’s Apology with individuals. Colleges receive the scholars in different ways. Some enter their programs at an intermediate level, others are forced to return to go. Greek I has run 7, 12, and 6 the last three years, and has 8 sign-ups for September. Greek II has handled 3, 1, and 5, and will open with 4 next year. Teaching an extra course or two so that Greek is available has, indeed, been a treat for students and teacher alike.

Jessica Mix Barrington
Northfield Mount Hermon School, Northfield, Mass.

The Northfield Mount Hermon School has had a Greek program from the beginning of the school, or rather schools. The Northfield Seminary, founded in his home town by the well-known evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody in 1879, offered an elective in Greek to its girls who followed the Latin course of study. Two years later, the boys at the Mount Hermon School who followed the Classical course began in their second year with Greek grammar and advanced through Xenophon by the end of their time at the school. These boys might be certified by their instructors if they reached a certain level of achievement, thus obviating the otherwise necessary Greek exam for college admission. Attic Greek from Hadley’s Greek Grammar, White’s First Lessons in Greek, and Jones’s Greek Prose was studied at both schools in preparation for the students’ trek with the 10,000. By 1918, however, Greek had been dropped from the Mount Hermon Catalogue, owing to “the general tendency of education in the United States, and the action of the colleges in making elementary as well as advanced Greek a college subject.” Northfield Seminary continued to offer Greek, even including an excursion into koine from 1907 to 1921. It has been hypothesized that since the girls of Northfield were not expected to attend college, it was best to offer an advanced course of study for those who desired it. But by 1943, Greek had made way for other courses in the Northfield curriculum, too.

Northfield Seminary and Mount Hermon School merged in 1971. In that exciting period of renewal for both institutions, Greek was reintroduced into the curriculum from the first year of co-education. The new Greek curriculum introduced grammar in the first year, and in the second year students read Plato, Euripides, Menander, and orators, and could go on to Homer, Herodotus, and even the more difficult Thucydides and Pindar. These year-long courses were offered at a school where four years of Latin were required.

These days, the Greek offered at NMH changes from year to year. Enrollment in all levels is low, so all Greek students, regardless of level, are scheduled into the same period, using the one-room schoolhouse model. In the 2000-2001 school year NMH offered Greek I and Greek III; last year, there was also a section of Greek II. Students study Greek civilization as a class, using the text The World of Athens by the Joint Association of Classics Teachers. In separate groups, Greek I and II students use the Athenaze series; Greek III students, usually exchange students from Germany, read Plato’s Apology, James J. Helm, ed. This classroom configuration gives the advanced students a chance to review by teaching the lower-level students, and the lower-level students have more resources than just the one teacher who shares time among the groups. Teaching different levels in one class is made easier by the school’s block schedule, which allots 105 minutes per class period in a ten-week term.

Offered by the English department but taught by a Classics department member, David Demaine, the two Greek literature in translation courses reach more students than the Greek language courses, as students can take them in place of the normal senior required English course. In Epic, students read and write about selections from the Iliad, all of the Odyssey, and most of the Aeneid (Books 3 and 5 are often left out due to time considerations). The Greek Drama course consists of the Oresteia, the Oedipus plays, the Bacchae, the Trojan Women, the Acharnians, and the Lysistrata. Students also prepare and teach to the rest of the class a play of their choice from Euripides.

Because of its historical place in the school’s curriculum, the Greek program, despite low enrollment, enjoys a protection not afforded other courses, such as Russian, which suffer from dwindling numbers. In the past four years, the enrollment has been steady in Greek and growing in Latin, so the future of Greek at NMH looks hopeful.

Back to Top

New Programs

Jon Moro: Holyoke Catholic High School, Holyoke, Mass. - Luke Henderson: Holyoke High School, Holyoke, Mass. - T. J. Howell: Belchertown High School, Belchertown, Mass. - Cornelia Reid: The Academy at Charlemont, Charlemont, Mass. - Nina Barclay: Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, Conn. - John Higgins: The Gilbert School, Winsted, Conn.

Jon Moro
Holyoke Catholic High School, Holyoke, Mass.

Greek I at Holyoke Catholic High School: Text: Athenaze Book I. The class is open to Juniors/Seniors. The class is honors level, meaning that class is weighted more heavily in students’ GPA. This has lured some students into the class.

We have taken a moderate to slow approach in learning Greek. I have found that Book I should take you through the entire year. I have supplemented the text on occasion with Crosby and Schaeffer. This has been infrequent because the text does a good job in general.

In addition to the text and its cultural/historical material, we have read (in English) selections from the following authors: Sophocles’ Oedipus the King (entire), Euripides’ Medea (entire), Plato’s Apology, Thucydides Book II, Pericles’ Funeral Oration.

We have also done mini-units on etymology, Greek mythology, and Greek art. I have found that The Usborne Illustrated World History: The Greeks is a good resource for the students. It is a good place to start on many areas. The students like the layout as well.

I started the year by asking what other areas the students were interested in, and this determined much of the supplementary material. This year, for example, a number of students were interested in Greek drama. Thus, we read a few plays and talked about Greek theater.

Luke Henderson
Holyoke High School, Holyoke, Mass.

Notwithstanding a myriad of community problems that affect student attendance and performance on standardized tests such as the MCAS, Holyoke remains one of the most underrated school systems in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As a second-year teacher, therefore, I undertook the task of inducing Ancient Greek into the World Languages curriculum in order to offset the needlessly biased criticism of Holyoke High School and to bolster my program’s productivity in preparation for our upcoming accreditation review. Fortunately for me, the students at the high school are eager to gain the advantages that classical languages offer to their general academic skills and to their English and Spanish language proficiency. For the school year 1999-2000, I had 37 total students in Latin 1–4. For the school year 2000-2001, I had 61 students in Latin 1–4 and another 28 students in Greek and Roman Civilization courses. For the school year 2001-2002, I will have 85 students in Latin 1–4 and 27 in Ancient Greek I.

When I had decided to attempt to add Ancient Greek to our language department, I first sought the approval of my department head, Mrs. Judith Falcetti, who was willing to try it, provided that departmental funds were sufficient. I then approached our principal, Miss Mary Ellen O’Connor, a Classical scholar in her own right (having student taught in Latin), who approved the addition of Ancient Greek as a pilot program. Ancient Greek I next year, therefore, will be a trial course, the success of which will determine the future of the Ancient Greek program at Holyoke High School. My goal is to have four years of Ancient Greek available to all students at Holyoke High School, consisting of two years of grammatical study and two years of literature. As soon as I received her approval, I wrote a syllabus and applied for two grants of $400 for the purchase of Athenaze I, one from the Classical Association of New England (CANE) and one from the Classical Association of the Pacific Northwest (CAPN), both of which I have received.

Although this year’s class is only a pilot program, nevertheless I sense the gradual growth of support for the classics both in our high school and in the community at large. Holyoke High School is on excellent terms with the parochial and middle schools in town, and has a legacy of excellence in Latin and classical humanities, which must be continued.

T. J. Howell
Belchertown High School, Belchertown, Mass.

I feel as though I should be listening to all the rest of the people in this symposium instead of talking about my own new program. Still, Dr. Lawall asked, and so here I am. I’m going to talk today about why I started a Greek class and what I envision as it’s goals and scope.

Due to my time constraints, I realized that whatever Greek program I had would not extend past a single year’s course. It is difficult, if not impossible, to learn enough Greek to be able to read any Greek author in the original in one year. I wanted, therefore, to add a literature component so that students could interact with the Greeks and begin to think more seriously about Greek ideas and their relevance to their own lives.

One of my goals for this course is that it will spark an interest in some kind of classical studies in college. Another is that the students will appreciate more fully the contribution of the Greek language to our own (for which Athenaze provides ample exercises). Time permitting, I’d also like to include information on Greek art and architecture. We’ll see if this is too ambitious.

I am purposely staying away from Greek topics and authors already covered in some detail by the English department—namely mythology, the Oedipus trilogy, and Antigone—so that my course contains all new material. I may, however, end up doing Antigone anyway, as the English department has expressed some interested in a cross-disciplinary unit.

Program Description:

Books for the Course:

Cornelia Reid
The Academy at Charlemont, Charlemont, Mass.

In your thoughtful response to my note, you asked me to describe the current Greek program at The Academy at Charlemont. I will be teaching there for the first time in the fall, and I don’t know all the ways that Greek is touched upon in the curriculum. Certainly there has been no class in the language before. Latin has been a part of the curriculum since the school was founded, and there is a one-year requirement (since the Academy is now on a block schedule, that “year” is now actually fulfilled in a one-semester course).

I expect to be teaching Greek to a small number of students, probably three, three times each week in first semester, and then in second semester perhaps twice weekly. It will be a regular language class, with full credit. The students have all taken Latin and are all in the upper high school grades. Since they are all capable students, I will try to push them along as quickly as seems right. However, it’s important to me that students know the history and context of the languages they study, so we will undoubtedly digress a good bit.

We will be using Athenaze. I have never used it before, and haven’t yet read it thoroughly, but it looks like a good book. I will certainly get in touch with Jessica Mix Barrington in the fall, or before: I will be grateful for any help I can get. I look forward also to checking your website.

Nina Barclay
Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, Conn.

The current Greek program at Norwich Free Academy is in its third year. The school is a large regional high school, which offered Greek from its start in 1854 to 1932. The CANE Edward Phinney Fellowship provided the seed money to reinstate Greek in fall 1998. It has received positive publicity and support from the local Modern Greek (AHEPA) community. In this climate, the administration appears willing to continue its support of the program. The school of 2150 students offers five other World Languages: Spanish, French, Latin, Italian, and Russian. Greek, Italian, and Russian all are offered in classrooms of “combined levels.”

In the first year, there were fourteen students in Greek I, in the second year there were ten, and in the third year there were eight. Next year’s projected enrollment is thirteen in Greek I, two in Greek II, and 1 in Greek III. Greek is usually not the student’s first foreign language. Most of the Greek students are eleventh or twelfth graders, and three quarters of them have taken Latin before Greek.

There is a very wide range of interests and abilities in the Greek class. Each year there have been several students who are not what we would call “traditional” classics students. One former student is in the Marines, two are now at the local community college, and a senior this year will go to massage school this summer. At the other end of the spectrum, one true philologist from last year is now at the University of Pennsylvania.

I have used Athenaze as my basic text and have adjusted the curriculum and pace to keep my academic and my counter-culture students equally engaged. To do this, I added units on art history, myth, literature, Homeric Greek, and Modern Greek at various times. My current class has two girls who are doing a final project on anatomical and medical terms, two students who are continuing in Athenaze, one who is doing a study of theaters and making a power point and Perseus project presentation, and three who are working on a presentation in Modem Greek. Next year I am thinking of using a Homeric Greek text as a base so that the second year students and the first will be able to cooperate in the combined classroom setting.

Even my weakest students seem to enjoy the mastery of the Greek alphabet and the awareness that they are doing something “hard” and having fun. I hope that the stronger students will carry an ongoing curiosity about Greece and Greek with them to college.

John Higgins
The Gilbert School, Winsted, Conn.

The Greek program at The Gilbert School, a public sector school serving the towns of Winsted and Hartland, began this school year as a result of our winning the Edward Phinney Fellowship from the Classical Association of New England for 2000–2002. The Fellowship is, of course, meant to support the first two years of a new Greek program while it builds up. I was surprised to find that, at the end of last year, a total of 24 students had opted for Greek I, with the result that we were able to split the first year class into two sections. After losing several students in the first week (one was frightened off by the alphabet, of all things), I ended up with 21 for the first quarter. Since then, two have dropped for academic reasons, and now the number stands at 19. The student population of the Greek classes is very mixed. Most of the students are upper class men, some with superior academic records, and some with a history of failure in foreign language classes. Four of the students are involved to one degree or another in the special education program.

The introduction of Greek built on a strong Latin program. Until this year, all college-bound freshmen were automatically enrolled in Latin I, and we were used to seeing numbers in the Latin program of upwards of 120 or more, in a school of about 525. In 1998/99, we introduced some classes in Classics in Translation, which have attracted a mixed bag of students. Therefore, most of the Greek students have had at least one year of Latin, but some have not been successful at it, and some began as students of Classics in Translation. Of this year’s Greek students, 9 are in Latin II or III, and 7 are current or former Classics in Translation students. The classics program as a whole feeds itself. What will happen now that the Latin program has been reduced from 100 Latin I students to 30 remains to be seen. So far, I have 15 registered for Greek II next year, and 14 for Greek I, and it appears that the program has established itself as a regular offering of the Language Department.

I use Athenaze. We have reached Chapter 10b, and will go no further. Next year, I expect that the Greek I class will get further in the book, and the second year class will get through about half of Athenaze II. I am not especially worried that the pace is too slow, since we have no special reason to cover a certain amount, as we do have in dealing with the NLE, the SAT 2 and the AP in Latin. I have treated the class as a study of Ancient Greece as much as of Ancient Greek, and so we spent time on the Odyssey, Oedipus, the history of the ancient world, and so on. I took a lot of slides last year as a member of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Summer Session II, and so I treat the students to views of ancient Greece fairly often. We use The World of Athens (Cambridge University Press) as an ancillary text, but it is rather advanced in its approach for the younger students on the high school level.

An important feature of the program at The Gilbert School is field trips. We took a trip to New York in October to see The National Theatre of Greece perform Oedipus in Modern Greek. In January we went to Cambridge to see A.R.T.’s production of Antigone and to visit the Sackler Museum at Harvard. Both trips were well received by the students and constituted a big part of their satisfaction with the course. Next spring, the Greek classes will be going to Greece for a week, seeing Athens, Nauplion, and Delphi, with some possible stops along the way.

The Guidance Department has been receptive to the introduction of Greek, although I have to do most of the recruitment myself—we would expect nothing else, really. The introduction of Greek has raised the students’ awareness of Greek and Latin study together as a possible career path. We are graduating the first prospective Latin teacher in my two decades at the school; she will be starting Greek in September at college. A couple of students are seriously talking about classics majors, and at least one is looking to the classroom. All in all, a growing program will grow interest as well.
Teachers who are starting a program or who want to prepare the way for the introduction of Greek should consider attracting students with such things as field trips, a trip to Greece, and so on. I suggest that a Greek program in a public school should also bill itself as a complete introduction to Greece, rather than simply a language course. Finally, if you have not done so, get yourself to Greece; there is nothing like local knowledge to turn the kids on.

Back to Top

Greek by Inclusion

Nina Barclay: Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, Conn. - Marilyn Rossi: West Springfield High School, West Springfield, Mass. - Sean Smith: Amherst Regional Middle and High School, Amherst, Mass. - Charlie Bradshaw: Wahconah Regional High School, Dalton, Mass. - Shannon Farley: Eagle Hill School, Hardwick, Mass. - Jacque Myers: Williston-Northampton School, Easthampton, Mass. - Amanda Wall: Mount Greylock Regional High School, Williamstown, Mass. - Carla Nelson: Frontier Regional High School, South Deerfield, Mass. - Mary Gardner: Minnechaug Regional High School, Wilbraham, Mass.

Nina Barclay
Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, Conn.

I became interested in working on an exploratory Greek booklet in the year 2000 when I was introducing my Latin I class to the Greek alphabet in the week before course sign ups for the following year. I had a particularly bright student who kept asking me if I was teaching the alphabet merely as a recruiting tool for the Greek class. In answering him and talking with the class about the Greeks in the ECCE ROMANI series, the seed idea for the book took root.

My Ancient Greek program is dependent on sufficient enrollment of ten or more. In the dark days of winter I pondered my worst case scenario of zero enrollment and wondered what I would do if I couldn’t teach Greek, the bright spot of Mediterranean sun in my day. A Greek strand within the Latin I curriculum ensures that I will always be able to teach some Greek and that all my students can experience Greek. Some might be encouraged to take a full Greek class, either in high school or in college; others might urge a friend to pursue an interest in Greek.

Latin curriculum needs to include the pervasive influence of Greek culture, myth, and rhetoric on Roman life and literature. As my students and I talked about Eucleides, the paedagogus in the ECCE ROMANI series, many elements of the booklet coalesced: the geography, mythology, and culture of Magna Graecia; the excellent use of figures of rhetoric in ECCE ROMANI I; the cultural interactions of Greeks and Greek-speaking slaves within the Roman world. I became curious about how much Eucleides would ‘chat’ with the children in Greek, as opposed to Latin. I wondered about which slaves would speak to each other in Greek. I thought about how Eucleides and the Greek innkeeper Apollodorus became friends.

Eucleides’ World, which I wrote in the summer of 2000 and which will be available in fall 2001 from CANE Instructional Materials, follows the story line of ECCE ROMANI, chapter by chapter. It covers very little Greek grammar and stresses similarities between Greek and Latin. I kept the pace of introduction of grammar well behind that of the Latin in ECCE to avoid any confusion for students. I tried to keep the amount of time needed for each chapter to about 30 minutes of presentation time and 30 to 45 minutes of exercises. I included activities like making flash cards and reviewing vocabulary in estimating the time needed for a chapter. The material is simple enough for an independent study student or a Latin teacher without a formal Ancient Greek background to use.

I often have students who are too immature or unmotivated to do well in Latin I. Too many unknown vocabulary words begin to doom their efforts as the class moves along in the second or third year. Some of these students love the mythology and culture of the ancient world and have welcomed the chance to “begin again” with Greek. An exploratory introduction to Greek in the Latin class gives them a taste of what Greek class will be like and can encourage them to continue in the classics program.

Marilyn Rossi
West Springfield High School, West Springfield, Mass.

Eucleides’ World at West Springfield High School

We began our adventure at the end of March, with the intention of including some of the material in Nina Barclay’s Eucleides’ World each Tuesday and Thursday for about 15–2O minutes.

When I first broached the subject to two of my Latin I classes, they were very enthusiastic. Some were a little fearful, while still others were unsure as to whether they had the ability to tackle and succeed with material that was perceived to be “too difficult” for them.

For the most part, my students have enjoyed this project. “When are we doing some more Greek?” is a frequently posed question! The students have become much more aware of examples of parallel structure, antithesis, and visual imagery, both in ECCE ROMANI I and in their English readings. This topic was easily developed after a review of rhetorical figures that are stressed in the Freshman English curriculum.

The greatest stumbling block to successful inclusion of any additional material is, of course, the time factor. Spring brings with it MCAS testing, a vacation week, senior activities, and awards assemblies. However, the students continue to enjoy our work, especially the additional worksheets made up to develop their reading skills and vocabulary enrichment. At this point I have used the lists found in the introductory sections of Athenaze.

When asked for their opinions, pro and con, about such an inclusion program, my students offered the following comments:

Finally, when asked whether they would take Greek I if it were offered, nine of the fourteen present said an enthusiastic yes!

Sean Smith
Amherst Regional Middle and High School, Amherst, Mass.

On the next page is the handout I use for a Greek and Latin Derivative Project in the second half of Latin I in grade 8. I took the idea from an article by Mary Preus in the October 1988 issue of the New England Classical Newsletter. Students need a copy of the Greek alphabet. Then each student picks a card with a Latin and Greek word on it. For example: . I have had many students over the years fall in love with the Greek alphabet from doing this project.

Latin Novice
Nömen: __________________

Latin and Greek Derivative Poster

Each of you will design a poster illustrating derivatives from a Latin word and a Greek word for the same thing. Your poster should include the following:

  1. The Latin word
  2. The Greek word in Greek and Roman letters
  3. The meaning of the words
  4. Several derivatives from each word, with definitions.
  5. A picture representing the root word, or pictures of the derivatives. These may be drawn by hand, cut from magazines, drawn on a computer, or whatever. The only requirement is that they be visually striking and appealing.

You will be graded on the quality of the visual presentation of your idea, as well as on the correctness and imagination of your derivatives. Remember that you can find more derivatives by using prefixes.

List of derivatives due: _____________________
Posters due: _____________________

Use this space as a worksheet.

Latin Word ________________________

Greek word in Greek _____________________

Greek word in Roman letters________________________

Meaning ___________________

Derivatives from the Latin with definitions: Derivatives from the Greek with definitions:
_________________________________________ _________________________________________
_________________________________________ _________________________________________
_________________________________________ _________________________________________
_________________________________________ _________________________________________
_________________________________________ _________________________________________

Charlie Bradshaw
Wahconah Regional High School, Dalton, Mass.

I have tried including some Greek in all four levels of my Latin classes; students seem genuinely to appreciate learning something new, and they appreciate a departure from the Latin routine. We have used Jane Gray Carter’s Little Studies in Greek that I bought several years ago. We have adequate copies for up to thirty students per class, and the books do not leave the room. Students learn the alphabet and pronunciation. They learn to write some Greek, and they enjoy experimenting with their names, the names of geographical locations, and finding Greek roots in the English language. I have allowed them to work in small groups, and we have pronunciation/reading lessons from Carter’s book. We do not attempt grammar, both for lack of time and for fear of spoiling the students’ appetite for enjoying Greek.

I now have approval and funding to offer a more extensive Greek unit that will serve as an adjunct to our Latin program. With more than two hundred Latin students enrolled for next fall, I feel we need this additional unit of study. I am planning a two-week mini-course for all of our Latin II, III, and IV students during January 2002. My school hopes to enjoy the teaching services of a UMass graduate student for the mini-course. The goals of the program will be that all students will: (1) learn the Greek alphabet; (2) be able to pronounce ancient Greek words; and (3) be able to read short passages of Greek. To be able to have my students learn Greek will at last satisfy a career-long urge to do just that!

Shannon Farley
Eagle Hill School, Hardwick, Mass.

Eagle Hill School is an independent, coeducational boarding school serving students in middle and high school who have been diagnosed with specific learning disabilities and/or Attention Deficit Disorder. In the fall of 1999, a writing student of mine who had been diagnosed with NLD, nonverbal learning disorder, approached me about the lack of a language curriculum at the school. Eagle Hill does not have a language program primarily because many of our students have language disabilities. However, students with NLD are highly verbal, with difficulties that are more organizational and visual. I told him I would be happy to teach him Greek after school, on my own time, simply for the enjoyment of working with the language again. I chose Greek because it was my strongest language, and I was most prepared to teach it at that time.

For the first semester, we just met for an hour three times a week after school, and I began to teach him out of Chase and Phillips, because that was what I had. I developed a number of different activities on my own to drill declension endings and such; we moved very slowly. In addition, as a student with NLD, he was very uncomfortable with writing the Greek letters and even translations. The class was mostly oral.

Near the end of the first semester, my student was campaigning to get credit on his transcript for the work he was doing, and the Director of Education at the school agreed, provided I was paid for my time. For the rest of that year, and for all of this one, we worked on C&P, and in the history and literature of Greek culture. This was also predominantly oral. I told him the stories of the Trojan war, and many other myths orally, just as they were originally done. My passion for the subject seemed to infect him, and he has borrowed my copies of Lattimore’s Iliad and Odyssey, as well as Mary Renault’s work on Alexander the Great, to read on his own.

At this time, my student is preparing to graduate and begin American University in the Fall, and we are slowly working through Plato’s Ion. We still have not finished C&P, but we are doing a more incidental form of grammar, not unlike Ecce, in which I teach him the forms as they appear. His particular learning style makes this more effective for him, and he will leave Eagle Hill School with a great appreciation for Classical culture, and a good foundation for any language he takes in the future.

Anyone who is interested can contact me at sfarley@eaglehillschool.com.

Jacque Myers
Williston-Northampton School, Easthampton, Mass.

My plans for Greek next year are a bit hazy, but I do have three students enrolled in a directed study course titled “Advanced Classical Studies.” They will read some Latin (most likely Apuleius) in the Fall semester, and they want to begin Greek in the Spring semester. I have not yet determined what the approach to Greek will be. I am a bit concerned that we have only the one semester for Greek, but the students are convinced that it is better to continue their Latin studies for at least one semester. It will be interesting to see how things develop.

Amanda Wall
Mount Greylock Regional High School, Williamstown, Mass.

Mt. Greylock Regional High School offers a strong program In Latin. Over the next few years, it is my goal to infuse the Latin program with some admixture of Ancient Greek, with the ultimate goal of offering a separate course in Greek. Student interest in such a course is high, but more enthusiasm is needed to introduce a course under current scheduling restraints.

Mt. Greylock uses the Cambridge Latin Course. This has been my first year using the CLC, and I have been able to teach a little Greek in conjunction with the cultural information in the CLC. In Stage 10, students learn about Roman education, so I taught them the Greek alphabet, since many Roman children had Greek teachers. At the end of the year, I will return to the Greek alphabet with this class and teach them a little about transliteration. Latin II students meet a female philosopher who comes to Rome in CLC III, and I plan to introduce them to the alphabet as well as fundamentals of Stoic and Epicurean philosophy.

Latin IV has traditionally included a wildly popular unit on Greek. This year the unit included the alphabet, transliteration, major Greek roots in English, a comparison of Greek and Latin roots (such as hydro- and aqua-), a comparison of Greek and Latin grammar, and famous historical Greeks. Students made posters of root pairs (such as macro-/micro-, hydro-/pyro-, phil-/phob-) and researched an historical Greek (such as Socrates or Thucydides) for an oral report. At the end of the unit, they translated a few simple verses from the Bible.

The students loved this unit because it’s different from Latin, they strengthen their vocabularies, and they learn a little about what they perceive as a very cool language. Many of them begged for the unit to continue.

The only problem with this unit is that it happens in Latin IV, when most students are juniors and have limited space in their senior year schedules. I would like to attract younger kids to Greek in the hopes that they will want a whole course after some exposure in Latin class.

My main strategy is to put more Greek into Latin. Most of the students at Mt. Greylock are very busy with sports and activities, so an after-school program may not be successful. Because it’s a regional school, kids come a long distance, and a before-school program may not work either. I will ask interested students in the fall if either of these options would work. Beyond that, I hope to enrich the Latin curriculum with Greek with the short term goal of being able to run an independent study, a study group, or some other such arrangement until a full course can operate.

PS I found out that I have received a Superintendent’s Grant from the school to develop materials to teach Greek in conjunction with Cambridge. I submitted the proposal mostly because I wanted the school community to know what was going on vis à vis Greek; I had little hope of actually receiving funding! I am going to focus on my Latin IV unit as well as the Alexandria portion of CLC Unit II.

Carla Nelson
Frontier Regional High School, South Deerfield, Mass.

Being relatively new to the high school scene, I have had only a few opportunities to incorporate the study of Greek into my Latin curriculum. As I continue to teach Latin, I plan to supplement and refine my lessons in introductory Greek as I become more familiar with new texts and materials available.

While teaching a Latin III class this past fall in which we explored the Latin-Greek connection, I began with an introduction to the Greek alphabet. Each letter was memorized along with a key word beginning with that letter. Alpha was memorized as the first letter of agora, beta with bios, gamma with graphein, and so on. In this way we memorized not just the alphabet but several key vocabulary words. We then moved on to identify mythological terms and names written in Greek.

Once the students became proficient in pronouncing Greek words at sight, I developed worksheets of Greek words grouped by category or related concepts. One dealt with numbers, another with colors, another with shapes, etc. In each case we translated and transliterated each word and then tried to think of an English derivative from the Greek word (examples: “cyclic” from kuklos, “leucocyte” from leukos). We ended by comparing the Latin equivalent and finding a derivative from Latin as well. The text I relied on most for developing these worksheets was Lancelot Hogben’s The Vocabulary of Science.

To provide an example of reading an extended passage in Greek, we read the first story in Athenaze together. A final part of our unit involved each student making his or her own Greek alphabet. On each of his/her twenty-four pages, the student drew a Greek letter, upper and lower case, and then chose a word that began with that letter. That word and some picture or illustration depicting that word appeared on the page also. Alphabets can be made to reflect the student’s personal interest in Greek culture. Examples of themes included animals, mythology, music and drama, warfare, Homeric vocabulary, verbs indicating action and movement, or simply a non-related collection of Greek words the student finds worthwhile. This was a successful opportunity to provide time for creative expression. I supplied working copies of English to Greek and Greek to English vocabularies for the students to use.

I find that by the time students reach Latin III, they are ready to experience again the thrill of beginning a new language, and especially one with a different alphabet. They seem to also appreciate the ability to apply Greek vocabulary to their current studies in science and math through derivatives.

Mary Gardner
Minnechaug Regional High School, Wilbraham, Mass.

Once my Seniors left, I ended up with four Junior boys of vastly different abilities in my Latin III/IV class. To engage their attention for these last three weeks, I suggested exploring Greek. They were very enthusiastic about the idea. I am impressed with the energy they are putting into this endeavor, especially since they know it is a non-graded component. They are enjoying the new alphabet, as I expected, but they’re also insisting on doing all the exercises in the chapters I’ve given them. As we go through the grammar, they are able to make connections with other languages they’ve studied, so the boys have an immediate sense of accomplishment. One of my boys is a star track athlete and is known as the “Pain Doctor.” As soon as he translated the corresponding phrase in Chase and Phillips he adopted it as his epithet, and now writes it on all his papers.

These students also enjoy exploring new ideas and learning intellectual concepts. They asked if we could continue reading the Aeneid in translation—and taking the quizzes—so they could understand more of the whole picture. For this Greek section I’ve given them an article on the Pre-Socratics, and I’m hoping to get through at least part of the Euthyphro and Apology, in English translation, of course. No matter how far we actually read, the effort has certainly been worthwhile. The boys are already planning how they’ll teach next year’s Latin IIIs all that they’ve learned. I am immensely pleased with their attention and effort. And, frankly, anything that keeps students enthusiastic, focused, and learning in June is a success in my book!

Back to Top

Discussion Topics

Back to Top

Classical Greek in Pioneer Valley Schools

Latin classes are flourishing in public, charter, private, and parochial schools in western Massachusetts, providing students with a firm foundation in language study, classical literature, ancient history, and the roots of western civilization. The ancient Greek language of Homer and Periclean Athens is also well represented in western Massachusetts schools, providing students with greater depth in their study of the ancient world.

Classical Greek is alive and well under the expert tutelage of the following teachers in their schools:

Established Programs

New Programs

Greek by Inclusion in Latin Courses or as Independent Study

Greek programs have recently been initiated by the following teachers with funds from the Edward Phinney Fellowship, which is administered by the Classical Association of New England:

For help with starting the teaching of Classical Greek in your school, contact Professor Gilbert Lawall, Department of Classics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-3905. glawall@classics.umass.edu; http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~glawall

Back to Top

Ecce Romani Teachers' Corner link Greek Teachers' Corner

The Julius Caesar Web Project Link

About Gilbert Lawall - New England Latin Placement Service
Ecce Romani - Ecce Romani Newsletter - Cane Instructional Materials - Cane Material Downloads
Ecce Romani Teachers' Corner - Greek Teachers' Corner
Graduate Program - Links - Inventory of Classical Greek Teaching in the Schools
Classical Greek in the Pioneer Valley Schools: A Symposium- The Julius Caesar Web Project

Home
HOME