Classics for all
Everyone seems to be claiming to support Latin in schools these days. Last week on Any Questions the last question was "What place do ancient languages, such as Latin, Greek and even Pictish have in a modern education system?"
In the old days (about 5 years ago, I mean) you could have relied upon some philistine MP from either side of the house to come out and say what a waste of time Latin and Greek were...toff subjects that should be quietly allowed to die (if not be speedily put down), and be replaced by something useful like Computer Studies or Physics.
No such thing on Friday, every panellist have a pretty warm feelings for Latin (even if not Pictish). Simon Heffer was all for having Latin and maybe Greek taught in every school in the land (with some supporting evidence from Matthew Arnold). Predictable enough maybe. But John Denham, the Labour front bencher, also said that he thought there were some things that were worth doing simply because they were intellectually interesting-- and said that Latin should be available in all good comprehensives. And Viv Groskop sung the praises of Pictish and said that Latin had served her very well.. "a fundamental part of education". Only the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, did not explicitly put his vote on the right side, but his discussion of Icelandic implicitly tended in that direction.
In fact, so widespread is the feeling in favour of Classics that the rumour is that the Today Programme had to scratch an interview with Classics-fan Bettany Hughes, because they couldn't find anyone to go on air and dump on the subject.
So far so good. But it is one thing to claim how much you love Latin and Greek; quite another to find the cash so that kids at most schools in the land can actually study them.
That's where a new campaign called "Classics For All" comes in.
Declaration of interest here: I am an Hon Patron of this organisation. And a jolly good thing it is too. The aim is to raise a large amount of money to support teaching and other classical initiatives in state schools. Classics for All will not be doing the teaching, but administering grants to kick start projects that "will meet or stimulate demand for Classics in a school or area"... from after school clubs, to GCSE classes, using teachers wherever they can be found.
It's only just launched, but you can click here for the website and will soon be able to contribute online (in the meantime you could always send a cheque).
There's a more general point about Humanities funding here. It is much harder for us to get a hearing when the government line is how wonderful History, English, Theology or whatever are... but that sadly (ministerial tear in the eye at this point), when so many people are being asked to tighten their belts, Humanities are realy not something that can be funded out of public money.
That kind of argument puts us on the back foot. But the truth is that Humanities have never thrived on private enterprise; they have always needed the state, the monarch or the church. So all power to our students who are having a (peaceful) demonstration in Cambridge tomorrow.