Until the 20th century, the study of Latin was a major point of emphasis in Western education, and this was the case even in American public schools up until 1962. Today, less than two-percent of American students are exposed to a Latin education.
Some educators have noticed that the grades a student earns in Latin can indicate that student’s aptitude as a scholar in general. This is because the study of Latin requires both precision and diligence, two very important traits in any scholarly pursuit.
Furthermore, language shapes our thoughts, and the knowledge of ancient languages enables students to understand the world-view of the ancients most closely. More practically, Latin helps in understanding most modern Western languages, and the study of any foreign language gives an understanding of the structure of language in general. The study of this ancient language greatly enhances a student’s ability to communicate effectively.
“I can tell, 9 times out of 10, whether a student has studied Greek or Latin simply by reading his English.”
Dr. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College
In order to master English, one must master the universal structures and principles of language itself. Since 55% of all English words and 90% of two-syllable English words come from Latin, a student’s vocabulary is expanded and his range of expression is amplified.
Many have described Latin instruction as the second step in a phonics-based reading program. We all understand the importance of phonics, the systematic study of the English letters and their sounds. But phonics only covers half of our language, the English half, those good old concrete words that students learn to speak and read first. But then we stop, even though there is another half of English that has a whole new set of root words, spelling, and pronunciation patterns. This is where Latin comes in to help students fill in the remaining pieces of the English language.
“The student who has learned how to learn with Latin will be a better student at all of his other subjects. Latin is an unexcelled system,” according to Cheryl Lowe at Memoria Press. “The mind of the student that has been educated in Latin takes on the qualities of Latin: logic, order, discipline, structure. Latin requires and teaches attention to detail, accuracy, patience, precision, and thorough, honest work. Latin will form the minds of your students.”
How can a student distinguish himself from the rest of the crowd? How can you make your application sing? Have Latin on your application. Learning Latin requires abstract thinking and hard work. Colleges know this.
This helps student score higher on SAT tests, too. Nearly any SAT prep book worth its salt includes a crash course in Latin for its vocabulary section.
When asked what he thinks when he sees Latin on a transcript, Michael C. Behnke, Vice President for Enrollment at University of Chicago, said, “This student is likely to be disciplined, have a strong basis for further learning, [and] be a little more creative toward intellectual pursuits than most.”
Fr. Parrish is a South African by birth, and was educated at St. Andrew’s College, an Anglican high school. He graduated with a B.A. and H.D.E. (Higher Diploma in Education) from Rhodes University; a B.Th. from the University of South Africa; a B.Th. (Hons.) and an M.Th. from Rhodes University. Classical Latin began for him in grade school and continued through his university years at the University of South Africa.
He has taught English, Biblical Studies, Afrikaans, and Religious Instruction, and headed the English and Religious Instruction departments at Queens College. He has tutored Latin for a number of years and has also served as a substitute teacher at Canterbury on a number of occasions.
He has been an Anglican priest for thirty-four years, serving in various churches in the United States.