How can it be Friday again? Honestly, I don’t know where the weeks go…
This week has been pretty intense, with extensions coming in from all of my modules, and dissertation ideas flying around like confetti. It’s been a whole week since I had time to switch the TV on…! (Again, apologies for the email lag – I’m doing my best against impossible odds!)
And then there’s homeschooling, which is a whole extra layer of impossible.
I started out with all the right intentions. There were going to be science experiments, and practical demonstrations of fractions, possibly with fruit. We would stroll around the park and learn about plants. We would read great literature and possibly write our own.
Working full-time from home on my own means that I can only spend a couple of hours a day on homeschooling. The great literature is too depressing. The park has lots of dandelions and not much else. And it turns out that I still don’t understand fractions.
So I’ve fallen back on the thing I know best. Yes, I’m teaching my 8-year-old Latin.
It’s an interesting experience. I’ve taught Latin to 8-year-olds before, of course, in primary schools. But when I’ve done that, it’s always been about making Latin fun. Lots of Minimus and worksheets and colouring in and stories, with games and plays and animal noises and general silliness. Latin lessons for little ones are happy things.
That doesn’t work for my 8-year-old. My son is 8 going on 45. He’s cynical and unimpressed by frivolity. The worst thing I could possibly do to him is give him a worksheet to colour in – and the word ‘Craft’ has been banned from our house for years. So no cartoon mice. Even the Cambridge Latin Course, with its story-based niceness for older kids, has had to be ruled out – my son is unenthused.
So we’re launching right in with ‘Latin for GCSE’ – which is a course I generally tend to avoid because it’s much more grammar-focused and steep than some others. I certainly would never suggest it for a class of 8-year-olds! But of course, my son is taking to it like a duck to water. He’s stomping round the dandelion-covered park reciting verb endings under his breath. Noun cases seem completely logical to him. We haven’t read a single story yet – we’ve just talked grammar and done exercises.
I’m not quite sure what kind of a monster I’m creating. But on the plus side, I’ll come out of this situation with a much improved grasp of basic Latin grammar.
This week, continuing with Comfort Classics, I’ve met some great people! Katie Low is a fellow Tacitus fan (yes, there are a lot of us around – we’re just mostly busy being quietly angry with the world), and Penny Whitworth teaches at RGS in Newcastle, the scene of much of my mis-spent youth. Flora Kirk is the designer of some of my favourite dresses, so I was thrilled that she did a special drawing for my website! I also had the chance to talk to Professor James Robson from the OU, about Aristophanes (and about food, which made me feel even more grumpy than usual about my standard frozen pizza diet). And today I talked to the wonderful Lucia Nixon – whom I know from Friday Zoom get-togethers but haven’t met in real life! – about her archaeological research. I’ve got some brilliant interviews lined up for next week too – but as always, do contact me if you’d like to join in!
Speaking of interviews, I was interviewed myself (about my interviews, which is satisfyingly meta) this week for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences staff newsletter. Fame at last! I’m happy to sign autographs – for a modest fee… Anyway, here’s the text of the interview, in case you’re interested. The video version will apparently be out soon, although I may try to bury that…!
This week from around the Classical Internet…
Roman mouse: joke or toy? – The Guardian
Ancient hillfort discovery – BBC
Hadrian’s Wall from home – The Northern Echo
Pompeii, disaster and us – The Guardian
Hobby Lobby sues Christies – The Art Newspaper
Classics and coronavirus hardship – CUCD
Comment and opinion
Tree of the Week: Romulus’ Spear – Andrew C. Fox
One classicist’s lockdown – The Edithorial
Archers as cowards – Tales of Times Forgotten
Killing Eve and Roman emperors – Topica
Ovid in Detroit – In Medias Res
Ovid in Renaissance Rome – BSR Blog
Western imperialism in the classroom – Eidolon
When is a mouse not a mouse? – A Don’s Life
Ancient Greek colours – Kiwi Hellenist
Tom Holland’s Suetonius – Bellaria
Podcasts, video and other media
Interview: Ovid and the Art of Love – The History of Ancient Greece
Anatomical votives – Runshaw Classics
Natalie Haynes and Edith Hall on Helen of Troy – BBC Radio 4
Reading Trojan Women online – Center for Hellenic Studies
Receptions of Herodotus – Herodotus Helpline
Announcing Sportula Europe – Patreon