Many moons ago, before the pressure of marking turned my hair snowy white (well, five hairs so far, but this website accepts hyperbole…), I was a young and optimistic Classics student, about to start a degree course in Latin and Greek. The problem was that I’d never studied Greek before, and didn’t really have the faintest notion of whether I’d be able to do it – or indeed whether I’d want to! So I decided to stick a toe into the water, as it were, at the JACT Greek and Latin Summer School, held in Durham every July.
Well, sticking my toe into the water turned into jumping in with both feet! The Durham Summer School is not a place of tentative studying. For me it was an intensive experience of learning, thinking, preparing, panicking, learning, eating, learning, preparing, listening, eating some more, talking and laughing; then going to sleep and starting the whole process again the next morning! Restful it was not. But it was inspiring. It was the first time that I really saw ‘lifelong learning’ in action, with a six decade age gap between myself and some of the other students. I watched students in their 80s learning faster than I could, and I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. I still do.
The Summer School lasted a week. When I started university my ‘Beginners’ class used the same Greek textbook; and it took us almost six months to cover the material we got through in that one week of Summer School. I spent those six months feeling smug and superior: it was a great foundation for a career in Classics!
The Durham Greek and Latin Summer School is still going – more popular than ever these days, and with just as broad a range of students as it attracted when I attended twenty years ago. So here’s my attempt to push you into considering it, since applications for Summer 2018 are now being accepted. Whether you’re a language novice, a post-beginner Latinist or an experienced classicist, there’s a suitable level for you. The Open University is usually well represented, so you’ll find others there who know what a TMA is. It’s intensive, crazy, friendly and fun. So look at this page; consider applying (and ask for a bursary if the cost makes it impossible); and spend a week of your summer learning something from the experts.
Don’t overthink it: just jump in! Then book yourself a week on a beach somewhere, to recover.
Cora Beth Knowles