It’s been a busy few weeks for Manchester Classics for All; the start of the school term and university semester means recruiting new tutors, liaising with schools regarding resource provision and allocating tutors to schools, not to mention the seemingly endless administrative tasks. Our next post will detail some of this work, but now that we’ve reached half term, it’s perhaps a good time to reflect on some of the events we worked on before the summer break.
In June, pupils from Medlock, Ladybarn and Green End primary schools braved torrential downpours – a typical Manchester summer’s day – to join pupils at Mauldeth Road Primary School for Manchester Classics for All’s first “Latin fair”, and it’s safe to say that the event was a huge success! After being entertained by a fantastic Latin play courtesy of the talented performers of Withington Girls’ School, pupils took to the arena (the school hall) to compete in a series of Roman games and collect stamps in their “Latin Passport”. Rather than fighting wild beasts or re-enacting famous sea battles, however, groups of pupils competed in less bloody activities, from dressing up as Roman soldiers to a chariot-racing themed board game, with the aim of winning as many words as possible to use in the final challenge: creating the best grammatically correct Latin sentence.
The aim of the session was not only for the pupils to have fun, but to get to grips with how a sentence is constructed in a highly inflected language like Latin; thinking about subjects, objects and parts of speech in Latin helped pupils consolidate their knowledge of English grammar too. The pupils created some hilarious work – the winning sentence turned out to be magnus porcus spectat splendidum medicum in via sed servus coquit calidum equum – “the big pig watches the splendid doctor in the street, but the slave cooks a hot horse”! Other gems were minima vespa videt tristissimum equum et portat caseum – “the small wasp sees the saddest horse and carries cheese”, and vespa acuta videt pretiosum anulum in Mamucio – “the sharp wasp sees a precious ring in Manchester”.
A couple of weeks later the project team was again out on the road, this time accompanied by Sam Fernes of the Manchester Classical Association for a “classics stretch day” at New Mills School. We were also joined by pupils from Buxton Community School, Glossopdale Community College and St. Philip Howard Academy. None of the participating schools teach Classics, so this was a great opportunity for pupils to gain some insight into the Roman and Greek way of life. Following an introductory session from Dr Peter Liddel, the pupils were split into two groups, to learn a little Latin and Ancient Greek.
In the Latin session, pupils learnt about the history of the language and how it has influenced modern languages. Through looking at a number of Latin root words, they were able to identify a great many derivatives in English and learn new ones, broadening their vocabulary while also gaining an appreciation of the influence Latin has had on both English and modern Romance languages. They also used their knowledge of derivatives to translate a number of Latin phrases. In the Greek session, pupils completed activities based around the Greek alphabet, learning how to write letters and transpose their names into the Greek alphabet. For most pupils, this was their first experience of classical languages beyond their school motto or Harry Potter spells, and was enjoyed by all.
After lunch, Sam facilitated a session about childhood in the ancient world, highlighting similarities and differences in the way Greek and Roman children lived, and compared it with modern childhood. Finally, the pupils created a piece of written work to take their learning a step further and document what they had learnt over the day. The sessions clearly fired their imaginations, and the pupils completed some fantastic pieces of work.
The project team would like to offer our thanks to everyone who helped make both events so successful; from the volunteers who helped create and run the sessions to the schools and teachers who generously provided support and resources. Most importantly, we would like to thank all the pupils who took part for their energy and enthusiasm, and hope they enjoyed the sessions as much as we did.