Latin Isn’t Just for Your Child

When we plan our child’s education, we are often trying to give them the education we wish we had. Even if we had a good education, there are inevitably particular subjects that we either never learned or never learned well. For the parent interested in giving their child a classical education, Latin or Greek is probably on that list of subjects. Whether you want your child to learn Latin or Greek because that’s just the “classical” way or because you sincerely wish you had learned them, I want to challenge your thinking a little bit.

If you think your child should learn a classical language, then you should too

Unless or until your child is pursuing highly specialized training in trade school or college, this should apply to everything your child learns. This will be obvious for the things you already know or mastered. You know you and your child should learn to read, write, speak, and compute – and you probably already did. You know you and your child should learn American history – and you probably already did. You may still be unsure why you had to learn so much Geometry or Trigonometry in high school, but you did, and so accepting that your child should is not too challenging.

But what about those things we tend to think of as “electives” – music, art, languages, etc.? For me personally, I think my children should learn to play a musical instrument, but excepting those two years of recorder in my elementary years, I haven’t (yet). So I understand your hesitation to accept my claim.

Now, I am not claiming you have to start today. Or that you even have to learn a classical language before your child does – even though that would be ideal.

These are important questions to consider, though: If you value the classical languages for your child, then why wouldn’t you value them for yourself? And if the reasons for learning classical languages aren’t strong enough for you personally, why are they sufficient for your child? 

We should be teaching our children valuable, permanent things – things that we wish everyone could learn, even if they learn them late. If something is not worth learning late, is it really worth learning at all?