Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Being a Pupil

I attended the London Summer School in Classics in order to hone my Latin, particularly by reading un-adapted texts by great authors.  I imagined that the course would stretch, me yet still be “gentlemanly”.

However, I had not counted on our teacher, Anthony Smith, a young man from Oxford who is determined to teach us Latin composition.  When we are cross-eyed from identifying imaginary conditionals and numb from transposing subordinate clauses into indirect speech, we are allowed a yomp through a Horace Ode or small slab of epic poetry as a reward. 

But the main thing that I am learning is how to be a pupil.  I am learning to risk embarrassment by launching on a translation where I can see that some of the words elude me, and not to take it too hard when I mess up a tense, but to try again.  I feel that I am being a good pupil, and my fellow students likewise.

But wait – could it be because we have a good teacher?  Anthony expects a great deal from us and maintains a good pace of interaction.  Our successes are praised and our mistakes excused politely and because we respect his erudition, we wish him to think well of us.

Perhaps that’s what I should be taking notes on.

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