Saturday, July 18, 2009

Latin Coursework pre-20th century

Putting on geeky magnifying spectacles here to warn you to skip this if you aren't interested in the subject -- I just wanted to have it on here for future reference as I plan the next few years.

From this classical journal article on what Catholic colleges taught, plus some more hints on teaching, though I'm not going to type those out.

First Year

Viri Romae
Historiae Sacrae Epitome

Second Year

Nepos (Lives)
Phaedrus (Fables)
Lactantius, de mortibus persecutorum (couldn't find that but here is a group of "selections" that has an excerpt)

It goes on to third and fourth year but we're not there yet.

I also found this Easy Latin for Sight Reading by Benjamin L'Ooge.

Schwickerath's Jesuit Education said that selections of Cicero's Letters (I linked to Frank Abbot's, but I don't know how these compared to the ones in the Ratio Studiorum) were read in the first couple of years in Ignatian schools. Later, Nepos was added in the first year and Caesar in the second. Also, some of rudimenta historica was used in the first grammar class.

For grammar the Jesuits used Alvarez, De institutione grammatica, and for composition they used a progymnasmata by Jacobus Pontanus. I did find these Fabellae Aesopicae edited by him. And a progymnasmata textbook by Jouvancy for use in Jesuit schools -- but I can hardly even look at the old typescript without getting a headache. It appears to be meant for students in the Humanities class, just before Rhetoric, though I'm not altogether sure about that. Quintilian's primordia pre-Rhetoric exercises, and Aphthonius' Progymnasmata.

For religion they used Canisius's Summa doctrinae Christiana, volume 1 and volume 2. ... plus explanations of the Latin gospel. Hmm, I suppose the Navarre series might be a modern equivalent to those, though I don't know at all. I did find this Agape Bible Study for Catholics online. Looks good at a brief glance.

The subjects in the first grammar class in the Ratio Studiorum were, according to Father Schwickerath:

  • Latin -- grammar, reading literature, and writing themes -- the progym (they could already speak and read and write Latin to some degree)
  • Greek -- letters, grammar, correct reading and writing (starting from the beginning here, I think).
  • Religion -- catechsim and scripture study
  • History -- mostly Old Testament

Arithmetic, geometry and science were apparently not part of the curriculum until the higher classes. I think later, in the post-Enlightenment days, some of this was taught earlier but certainly the Ignatians maintained a reasonable caution about letting scientific teaching replace or push aside the literary curriculum.

Study of great works in the mother tongue was added later, too. You can see how all these things are good things, but if you start adding on without careful attention to priorities you end up with the typical over-burdened curriculum.

I found this article at the Ambleside Online Parent's Review repository, from 1899. It talks about the difference between the German "Gymnasium" or classical school, and the newer "Real-Schulen" which were scientifically oriented. Schwickerath talks about this too; it was apparently a hot topic in the turn of the 19th century. If you scroll down you can see Programmes for the Gymnasium and the Real-Schule and the Realgymnasium, which was apparently a combination of the two.

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