Thanks for your thoughts, Annis. Ever holding myself lower than a blade of grass yet more tolerant than an oak, I come now to address our present topics again. Among other things you wrote, learned friend, this paragraph.
I must disagree with this, and strongly. While I do find certain strains of classical scholarship useless and corrosive of the field (post-modernist junk, I mean), it seems absurd to blame the last people left dedicating their lives to the study of the classical languages for the decline in classical studies.
My comments in my last post were not aimed so much at classical scholarship, which almost approaches the precision of hard science and has contributed immensly, as at the methods used to instruct younger students and undergraduates. Although I do wish professional classicists (perhaps you are in this group...I don't know) would try to make their professional output slighly more accessible to the intermediate practioner, my beef isn't with scholarship but with pedagogy.
I have a god-son who just graduated as the valedictorian of St. Anselms Academy, an extremly expensive and prestigous preparatory school here in Washington. He did a senior honors thesis on Catullus. During his six years of latin study he did no speaking, very little writing, and lots and lots of translating. He was in tiny classes (12 and fewer) taught by highly qualified people. Why couldn't most of the instruction, at least after the second year actually have taken place in latin? There is no compelling reason why it couldn't have? Is there? But it did not! I am convinced the refusal or inability of some/many pedagogs to engage their students modo in vivo
has contributed to the latinity's lamentable decline, although certainly other factors must have had their role as you have pointed out.
There is a counter movement afoot among sensible, progressive people. Antecdotally I have read that Orberg's method is gaining some steam in Europe. However successful this movement may eventually come, it is not conceivable, however much I and others may wish it, that we can go back to the heyday of neolatinity which would be the the during the Renaissance and early Englightenment. I am no expert on any subject but a dabbler in a few. Isn't it true that the rare book libraries of Europe are basically full of latin tomes that in volume far outstrip everything from the golden/silver ages? How fluent elites were I have no idea. Maybe not very since Erasmus thought it necessary to right a conversational guide to help them out. On the other hand many an Italian gentleman dabbled in love lyrics and Queen Elizabeth herself translated Imitatio Christi
into English. Not being an academic I can't say how much scholarly attention these treasures receive but I suspect that it may not be as much as they deserve.
In the "classics-list" discussions that you, Annis, referred us to, the issues at hand all related to pedagogy not critical scholarship with which I have little quarrel with per se, as mentioned above, although I would rejoice at the altars of the gods if I were to ever read a modern edition of an ancient work that was commented upon by the learned author in the latin language.
In the big pile of posts about "getting through this" I saw hardly a title of englighten and practical thought regarding teaching. What I saw was a lot of wailing and lamentation about how hard it was to get students to read with fluidity. But I saw no solutions being offerred. No one seemed to see what to me seems so obvious - their methodology is all wrong and deadening and boring and insufferable That an ignorant scribe and part-time YMCA lifeguard such as myself, who is entirely self taught (though most of the road to the lofty city even yet stretches out before me) and who dropped out of highschool ("just kidding ....not really"), has a better clue about what to do about their
classroom problems doesn't speak well, friends, for America's latin teachers in my most humble opinion.
From what I gathered, all the contributors to those threads were professional teachers at one level or another. But that you might better know why I deem these people culpable of professional malfeasance I ask you all to consider whether, when the teachers of French or any the modern languages get together on the net to discuss issues of common concern, they do so in any language than the one they teach. The answer is telling, nay more! It's damning!
Now I see that I am a poor embassador of the cause that I would represent; that my rhetorical skills are inconsequential and feckless, or even worse, counterproductive. Feeling rather beleaguered, I keep hoping the auxiliaries will arrive soon. Isn't there a soul out there who can agree with me wholeheartedly that latin students and their teachers and professors as well as the higher level experts (the scholars) should all cultivate latin as a living subject matter?