Mr Barker, having led the Fathers to an ignominious defeat at cricket, was the speaker at our Sunday service. In it he made an interesting reference, under the theme of “seeking the truth,” to the teaching of Latin:
“Many of you here are seeking the truth in the medium of the Latin language; and some of you may sometimes wonder why you are set to seek the truth on so barren and uncongenial a ground. Because – I should answer – Latin is the practising ground; and unless you get into the habit of gripping hard and remembering accurately the true construction and interpretation of your Latin, you will be far less likely, when you come to the battle-ground of actual life, to have the instinct and the method of going straight for the essential truth you have to find there.
Latin is like the drill you do on parade. It may seem pointless drudgery; but it is giving you, all the same, a habit of mind and behaviour for which you will one day feel profoundly grateful…”
This is as maybe, but as far as I can judge by comparison with other Preparatory Schools, we do not give anything like so many hours to classics as others do. We do more mathematics, and considerably more English history and literature. Our top 30 boys all get up very thoroughly a whole play by Shakespeare every year, besides learning a great deal of Tennyson, Milton and miscellaneous poetry. Also every boy in the School is taught drawing.
I am bound to confess that for these things we sacrifice a certain amount of grammatical and syntactical drill, which would improve our classical work.
Of one thing I am convinced, viz., that boys have quite long enough hours of work – no boy under 14 can really profit by more than 30 hours per week including preparation.