Academics demand a future for dead languages

LEADING academics have joined forces to protest at the planned suspension of the last remaining training course in Scotland for classics teachers.

The move by Strathclyde University has provoked concerns that it may lead to the disappearance from the Scottish school curriculum of Latin, Greek and classical studies.

In a letter to The Scotsman today, protesters say they are deeply concerned by the decision, adding: "This course is the only means of entry to the profession for those who wish to teach in state schools in Scotland; if it disappears, classics will disappear from the state sector."

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Challenging the decision, the professors and lecturers from Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities say the presence of classics enhances schools, not just with linguistic rigour, but with an insight into the origins of our civilisation.

They highlight the strong links with art, architecture, law, philosophy and politics.

Courses in classical studies are booming in universities and in schools south of the Border, they maintain, adding: "The appetite of students in state schools in Scotland is no less - it is simply not being satisfied."

The academics insist funds should be found to meet at least the cost of employing one lecturer in a Scottish university.

Tony Williams, the lecturer in charge of the course, who is due to retire without a replacement this summer, said he welcomed the support for classics.

He added: "It would be a terrible irony if, under the Scottish Executive, we see a situation where only those who pay for education get the choice of classics for their children."

The writers of the letter are Douglas Cairns, professor of Classics-elect at Edinburgh University; Robert Crawford, professor of Modern Scottish Literature at St Andrews University; Roger Green, professor of Humanity at Glasgow University; Ronald Knox, senior teacher of Greek and Greek history, Glasgow University, and Elizabeth Moignard, chair of the Classical Association of Scotland.