Education experts often justify the teaching of Latin in classical schools by demonstrating that students derive four benefits from Latin: a better grasp of English, a stronger connection to a shared Western heritage, a deeper appreciation for other cultures, and of course, better SAT scores.
While the study of Latin undoubtedly has positive effects on English fluency, cultural awareness, and standardized tests, these reasons are not enough to justify why we take a rough hour of your child’s day to teach them dusty old paradigms and chants. The academic goal of the classical model of education is worthwhile, enduring knowledge. Some things we teach as stepping stones to build up to useful skills: first graders practice their math facts so that as sixth graders they can tackle geometry and algebra. Other things, such as the great literary works of the Western tradition, we teach not because they impart skills or facts but because they are worth understanding for their own sake. We believe that the study of Latin belongs to the latter. The study of foreign languages allows us to break through the confines of our native language and explore the minds of others in their own native tongues.
Ascent’s Latin program is literature-oriented: we are preparing our students to be able to read their literary heritage in the West- ern tradition in its own language. A translation allows you to see through a dark glass; in the original, you meet the author and his thoughts face to face. By teaching your children Latin, we are teaching them to listen and to understand, to practice critical thinking, and to ponder the great things of humanity. We are declaring that foreign languages, even dead ones, are worth learning for their own sake. Certainly, the study of Latin will universally benefit their academics, but its true purpose is to prepare them to read and enjoy Latin literature.