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By Ms. Jeanna Cook, Classics Department Head
What’s Old is New: Changes in the Classics Department at St. Mark’s School
I know what you’re thinking, how could anything related to the Classics be new? You are right to assume that our body of evidence about the ancient world is limited to that which has survived. Fresh discoveries pulled out of the sands of Egypt or deaccessioned from a private collection are few and far between. The evolution, the excitement, and the new in Classics is in the reinterpretation of the material we have had in hand for thousands of years. Recently this reinterpretation has asked better questions about what is missing in order to form new understandings. What evidence of everyday lives in the ancient world has been passed over in favor of the historical record of Roman elites? Whose voices are missing in the historical, or written, record? How can we use the archaeological record to listen for these voices?
In response to the St. Mark’s: Actions to Be An Anti-Racist School petition and in alliance with the voices amplified by the BlackAtSM Instagram account, we introduced a new textbook, Suburani in the Classics Department over the summer. The readings in this text represent the real and imagined voices of the majority non-elite population, with numbers in the millions, who both benefited from and suffered under the dominance of Roman Imperium.
The writers of Suburani by HandsUp Education developed this textbook in response to student interest in the lives of everyday people in Roman society. Most texts written for the Latin students of the past century have relied upon the historical record to tell the experience of Roman culture from the perspective of Roman boys and men. These characters are literate, involved in the conflicts of Rome’s political sphere, and authors and consumers of the literature and philosophy of their time. In contrast, Suburani couples the limited extant record of everyday people with the artifacts of everyday life. In this text, physical clues, such as amphorae that carried olive oil from Hispania to Rome, stamped roof tiles from large apartment blocks, and graffiti inscribed on neighborhood walls, develop the stories of the individuals who left a less verbose record of their lives in the first century CE.(more…)
By Illia Rebechar and Emily Taylor, VI Form
Classical Diploma Mosaics
Note: Each year students who are taking Greek II and have also taken three years of Latin work together throughout the spring to present a project at the end of the year to receive their Classical Diplomas. This year the project was driven by the question: How is the study of Classical languages and cultures still relevant to the 21st-century learner? Students worked through rounds of brainstorming over Zoom and ultimately ended with a project that would use a classical art form, mosaic pieces, to communicate the relevance of classical influences all around us.(more…)
By Dr. Heather Harwood, Classics Faculty
My Summer of Shoshin: Applying Beginner’s Mind to Learning Ancient Greek
Imagine this. You fly across the ocean to a different continent to go to school. You miss a connection and your plane is delayed, so you arrive a day late. You make your way from the airport to the campus of the school where you meet your roommate (someone you have never met before) and several other “ new” students. Most of the students you soon realize are returning for their third or fourth year to the school. These students know the campus, they know each other, and they know the teachers. At the opening night ceremony and for the remainder of your time at the school, the teachers and many of the returning students all converse in a language which, while you have studied it in books your whole life, you have never really heard spoken or spoken yourself. You go to bed a jumble of conflicting feelings: brain-numbing exhaustion from your journey, excitement and eagerness to start learning, uncertainty about whether you should even be here, homesickness for your dog, and total fear.
While this is the experience of many students coming to St. Mark’s for the first time from abroad, it was also my experience this past summer when I traveled to Greece to participate in Paediea Institute’s Living Greek in Greece program. I now have a much better understanding of what many of you who come to St. Mark’s from another country experience. The “school” I attended, however, was actually only a two week workshop held in a small coastal town called Selianitika where students, professors and high school teachers of Ancient Greek gathered to learn how to understand and speak Ancient Greek.(more…)
By Tommy Flathers, IV Form
Nepos: What Was No Spartan Woman Too Proud To Do?
When Ms. Cook and I were going over what I had read over the week sometime early in Window 1, we came across this phrase. I flagged it down as a potential essay topic and have looked forward to exploring it in more detail. I am looking forward to researching the morality of the Greeks and Romans, or how the Romans viewed the morality of the Greeks. Currently, I have almost no knowledge of the subject. All that I know I learned from reading Nepos. I think that it might be “ad scaenam” because in line 5 he also mentions the stage.
What could Nepos have written on line 4 of his Prologue? What was no Spartan woman too proud to do? Judging by contextual clues, which option makes the most sense? What evidence from the Latin text supports your claim? (more…)
By Jeanna Cook and Dr. Heather Harwood, Classics Faculty
Self- Paced Learning in Latin III and III Honors
The Classics Department is trying something new this year: self-paced learning. We kicked off this departmental goal almost accidentally as we planned for separate courses in separate places this past summer. Dr. Heather Harwood was working on revamping the Latin III Honors course to better support students who continue with the language in Advanced Latin Readings thereafter. Jeanna Cook was looking for a way to restructure the Latin III course to better serve incoming students who place into Latin III. In our first department meeting of the year, we realized that we were attempting to solve different problems, but that we had designed curricula that pulled from the same methodology. Self-paced learning, assisted by the module structure in our LMS, Canvas, offered a common means by which we hoped that we could achieve our individual course goals. (more…)