This week I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Classical Languages Teachers Association conference in Sydney. Its guiding words were ‘Disco et Doceo: Classical Wisdom K012 and Beyond.’ (For non-Australian readers, K-12 means from kindergarten to year 12, or throughout the years of primary and secondary school).
There, I spoke about the Our Mythical Childhood project to a dynamic and dedicated (and very well-dressed) group of classics teachers from around Australia, and beyond. The CLTA is the leading body of school classics educators, and there were well over 60 teachers in attendance, including representatives from most States of Australia, and visitors from New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Eureka! An introduction to Classical Greek for young Australians
Dr Emily Matters, who heads the Association, organised the conference, and put together a program of presentations about aspects of classics, and aspects of classics teaching. Emily is the brains behind the Eureka! Greek textbook, which may be unique in the world in uniting the study of Ancient Greek with the mythology and customs of Indigenous Australians.
ACARA, Pro Archia, and Rhetorical Flair
Dr Tracey McAllister from ACARA, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, shared the story of the development of the Australian Classical Languages Curriculum. While its initial focus was on Classical Greek and Latin, significantly, it was set as a framework to assist the development of other Classical Languages–perhaps a world first in any educational authority. Tracey is a convert to the cause of Classical Languages and stated that she believes all students would benefit from the study.
Other speakers included A/Prof Kathryn Welch (University of Sydney), fresh off a plane from Italy, who talked about the background to Pro Archia, and Dr Alexander Bril (Sydney Grammar School), who took us through our rhetorical paces and shed light on some important Ciceronian dates. And Dr Anne Rogerson, (University of Sydney) spoke about the Aeneid’s Book I, inspiring me to think more about the ways that classical narrative patterns map onto aspects of children’s literature storytelling. Do stories lead us homewards, or Romewards? It depends, in children’s and classical literature alike.
We welcome articles of various lengths on Ancient Greek and Latin literature, history, philosophy, archaeology and their reception, as well as essays on the teaching of Classical languages or other topics relating to ancient Greece and Rome, and reflective pieces from practitioners on performances and other artistic productions that present or respond to Classical material. We also publish review essays on books, exhibitions, performances and other art that relate explicitly or implicitly to the ancient world. Our aim is to make the Classical past and our modern engagements with it accessible to a broad audience while also publishing work of use and interest to scholars and teachers of the Classical world.
To read Classicum, or to be in touch with Anne, check out the link, here.
Those of us who received conference bags were lucky enough to take home one of Dorothy Healey’s wonderful recreations of Ancient Greek pottery, as well as other less ‘authentic’ goodies, including a gingerbread Roman Legionary duck (made by the Central Coast’s best bakery. ) And Anthony Gibbins of Legonium fame (and Sydney Grammar School) kindly donated a hard copy of his Latin lessons, and ‘Jessica,’ one of the minifigures who stars in the series.
I went home, clutching my swag, but more importantly inspired, and educated, by the creativity and dedication of the teachers I met and heard from. It may not yet be compulsory for students to study classics or classical languages in Australian high schools, but judging by the energy in the room, that day may well be on the way. It was a privilege to be involved in this gathering of the people who introduce such wonderful material to the next generation of classical scholars.