Friday 5 February 2016

Heroes of Classics in Wonderful Worcester!

My next project up: advocating the study of the ancient Greeks and Romans, by whatever means possible, in British Secondary Education. That includes the 93% of young Britons not schooled in the private sector.

It is time for Action. Studying Mediterranean antiquity superbly equips individuals to think socio-politically and to persuade other people orally, visually and in writing. It hones transferrable skills like source criticism and culturally relativist analysis. It's a perfect A Level to do with any other subject because the Greeks invented all academic disciplines including Medicine and Material Science. It gets school-leavers and graduates great jobs and gives them nourishing and beautiful brain-food for non-working hours for life.

Christopher Whitehead School
We really can get Classical Civilisation or Ancient History available at every state school in the land. So let’s do it. The cheapest and easiest way is to identify and support teachers of any subject, provided they have a PGCE, who want to get Classical Civilisation or Ancient History up and running in their establishments. These heroic individuals usually learn a huge amount about ancient Greece and Rome  fast because it is satisfying intellectual material and makes for  outstanding pedagogy.

Simon Beasley and Simon Callaghan: Local Classical Heroes
Next year I’m going to start a systematic programme of visits to any school/sixth-form college that will have me in order to liaise with such enthusiasts. Please do pass the word around. I received many letters in response to an article on this topic in the Guardian last year, but not enough to keep me quiet forever.

Neil Morris, Enterprising and Enlightened Headteacher
On Wednesday I was inspired by a pilot run to the wonderful Christopher Whitehead School in Worcester (too many Ws?). There the Two Sensational Simons (Beasley and Callaghan), teachers of Drama and of German/ Business Studies respectively, have already persuaded their enlightened Head Teacher to let them get Classical Civilisation up and running. And I hope that after 30 minutes’ noisy interaction with me, another good wodge of the current year 9 (the most attentive of that age I’ve ever met) is signing up for the GCSE next year.

What is the Police Connection?!
Worcester has classical roots. Its ancient tribe which fought the Romans were called the Cornovii. Edward Elgar, who wrote the nationalist oratorio Caractacus about Britons defying Roman invaders, was born nearby. Worcester holds some Roman objects in its museum, and boasts a very straight road to Bromsgrove. In the West Mercia Police HQ there hangs (and don’t ask me how I know this) an Italian-School oil painting of Cupid surrounded by naked boy mini-gods.

But now everyone in year 9 at the Christopher Whitehead school knows that the Roman Empire really became Christian in precisely 391 AD. They also know the difference between (and can spell) Ethics, Epistemology and Ontology (under-18s are BRILLIANT at philosophy, as Steve Neumann correctly argued in The Washington Post this week).  I foresee a whole generation of outstanding Worcester classical graduates taking over our top national positions in about 15 years. Check back in with me then. I guarantee it. 

Photo by Simon Callaghan of Brilliant Classics Class (Simon Beasley centre)


  1. I would absolutely support this. I was a Classics teacher for thirty years (Classical Civilisation, Latin and Greek). I've just finished a PhD on Apollonius Rhodius at Nottingham. I live (and taught) in Sheffield but my son lives In Worcester, that's why this particularly caught my eye. I would love to think there would be a chance for our granddaughter to study the Classics in whatever form.

  2. I just found you on Twitter and what an amazing blog - anything I can do to help. I started Latin at 11 and have never looked back - I have ( hopefully _ given my love of the classics to my three children - all with Roman names - and agree it is of huge relevance to modern education and study. I was at a 'political' supper last weekend banging on about the wonderful structure of the Senate !

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