I took Latin for my first four years in Grammar School - until in fact we selected our subjects for School Certificate as it was on those far off days.
It never seemed a particularly difficult language as it was so predictable. Once you had learned to decline a word then as long as you knew the root word then you could have a good stab at things. Does that make it sound too easy? Probably. From this distance away that is how it seemed.
My memories of the language are to say the least 'sketchy' but I do know that I can still remember the 'cases' and I can still decline
amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant. Also I know that often, if I don't know the meaning of a word when I am reading something then quite often I can have a pretty good guess from a Latin word I might be able to dredge up from the depths of my memory.
There is an interesting article in today's Times about Latin becoming more popular again in schools - and in one school in particular. That school is in East London, in a school where there are 80 languages spoken among its 900 pupils. Fourteen selected pupils are having lessons in Latin. They all seem very keen about it and all find it such a useful exercise. They are all enjoying doing it.
I was interested to read what Dr Peter Jones, co-founder of Classics for All, a charity which provides some funding for such projects, said. He says "It opens up the vocabulary of many modern European languages."
It seems that parents of this group are very supportive - and I think that is also a key to whether or not it will be a success. When I went to school it was not fashionable for parents to 'interfere' in school work. My father never ever went to a single school function at my Grammar School. My sister (who was much older than me) always accompanied my mother - I suspect because my mother felt quite unable to go alone.
And yet at home my father was a huge support in my learning. He would sit with me when I practised the piano; he would help with any research for my homework; we would collect and identify wild flowers; we would play all kinds of pencil and paper games and he would read me reams of poetry (his great love) - I have his poetry books still.
I thought of this yesterday when friend, G, gave me a Poetry Book which she had had since childhood. She had heard a poem read out at school and had come home and recited it to her father. He had gone into school to ask the source and then bought my friend the book.
Maybe the two subjects I have written about do not seem related to one another. But they are really. Schools are now so multi-racial, new subjects are being introduced all the time, parents are being welcomed into schools and made to feel at home there. It is worth remembering that children spend at the most six hours a day at school. The other eighteen - plus 24 hours a day in the holidays - are spent at home. Learning doesn't stop at the school gate. In fact some would argue that that is when learning really does start apart from the complicated science subjects. So if Latin opens up new avenues then let's welcome it with open arms, and an open mind.