Lampada Tradam

The Apparitional Gamekeeper’s little sister, who, like the AG himself, is quite a surprising person, turned up on her quad-bike last night, with a diplomatic mission: would I teach her something? Anything? — We negotiated around the basic concept this afternoon, and it has been decided that I will teach her Latin. This seems ideal from a variety of perspectives. Apart from the fact that I know a lot about it, I do genuinely think that learning Latin lays a foundation for much in the way of useful knowledge. But also, if I were messing around with maths or anything else that’s remotely curricular, doubtless the Grokes who run primary education in small rural Scottish schools would start screaming that I have ‘confused her’ – I doubt very much if they will so much as start her on French, but certainly, Latin is so far beyond their event-horizon that with any luck, they won’t even notice. We started tonight, and it was fine; actually, she was doing a little bit better from the start than the class of postgraduates I teach out of the same book. If she gets bored, she can stop, it is entirely up to her, but I think she’s a sticker. I am fond of Tayla who is, at the age of ten, a well developed and highly individual personality, but there is another side to why I am intensely pleased to be doing this. For the last ten years, I have been working on a book on women and Latin, which is even now, slouching towards Walton Street to be born. This book is basically about women in the renaissance and early modern who acquired an education, and it is full from end to end of stories about clever girls actively seeking a teacher because they really wanted one, and refused to let anyone prevent them. Time moves on, but sometimes not as far as all that. The advances of the twenty-first century have merely ensured that it is class rather than gender which stands in Tayla’s way. Whatever precious nonsense is talked about ‘equality’, her parents, though intelligent and sensible, are not middle class and ‘educated’ in their modes of speech. My interactions with poorer Britain over the years suggests that for that reasons alone, young women (usually, they are women) equipped with cheap suits, 2.iis, and handmedown ideas, will try and level Tayla down on the grounds that anything else is ‘divisive’ which is to say, trouble for Marks and Spencer suit-wearers. The hell with it. If Tayla wants to learn Latin, I will teach her. If she gets tired, she can stop. But of all the phenomena in the world which I respect, which are many, one of the ones which seems to me the most serious is a child who really wants to learn. It’s not as if it happens that often.

2 Responses to “Lampada Tradam”

  1. pat Says:

    Hurrah for Tayla. And teacher. As |I worked my way through freshman statements about why I want to come to Trinity College, one sent me to the Registrar: we must have this young woman and pay her residence fees so that she can leaven the lump.

    Latin wasn’t taught at her school, so she found books & learned some herself. Got herself introduced to a teacher, read some Ovid, applied for a job at the Dictionary of Old English. All she wanted to do was to continue………..

  2. The other German Guest Says:

    Isn’t that amazing? And so contrary to my believe, that we should have another “learning phase” in the mid-twentes, because only by then most people realize their interests and how much they actually have missed in school.

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