Writing with Style

How come I got away with writing “Don’t Study Latin” without getting into trouble? And how come it was so darned popular? (I wrote it for the Homeschool Channel almost a week ago, and it shot up to first place for most-read article; and it stayed in first place for days.) Since I’m a creative writing teacher, I’ll go ahead and take this opportunity to teach you a few tricks about writing.

Most great journalism (especially in newspapers) consists of taking a stand on a controversial subject. You see, people from both sides are interested. How to take a stand without offending the other side is a delicate matter. I chose humor to diffuse the situation. Every time I hurled an insult or a rebuke, I hit myself with a tomato. How could anybody be mad at me? I already had my comeupance. You can’t hit a person who has already been hit. At least it’s not nice if you do.

I also complimented the opponent. This has to be genuine, and it was for me because I confessed that I myself had a classical bent. I told the reader that she was a “thinking person” and that she had chosen “a better, higher education.” Letting the person know that you are on the same side helps to break down walls.

Lastly, I gave two logical alternatives. One was the study of Spanish, which I presented as the best option, since you learned the Latin roots that way anyway. The other was a concession that they could learn a classical language that was actually still spoken, and that would deepen their walk with God.

But the most important thing to me when writing this article was to stop people from making a decision based on sinful motivation. Not all classical homeschoolers have sinful motivation when choosing to study Latin. Some of them have thought about it and prayed about it, and studying Latin is the right decision for them. But after schmoozing with homeschoolers for a decade, I’ve seen that many (if not most) classical homeschoolers do Latin as a matter of pride. If I see sin, I will call people on their sin, so help me God, even if I lose sales. Even if I tick people off. I took a chance. I hurled myself off a cliff, so to speak, to see what would happen. And the result was better than I imagined. People are being set free from a weight of bondage that they thought they were under. And for this reason, I consider my article a success.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp (more information)
Join our occasional newsletter for new articles, videos, encouragement, a Bible crafts e-book, & more!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be shared with anyone else.

Tags: ,

7 Responses to “Writing with Style”

  1. Good for you for taking that chance!

  2. Teaching latin, or not, must be a quite controversial subject. And I can see how it would be pridebased.
    Also giving Spanish as a substitute is very good idea. A good language to know also.

  3. Anthea says:

    I loved both these articles about Latin. Some home educators relinquish the freedom to choose their own path, and get swept up in the latest curriculum craze. It’s good to have a seasoned home educator point out a ‘more excellent way”.

  4. Robert says:

    Bravo Ms. Evans, for saying what many other teachers actually think, but are uncomfortable saying. I have advocated for the study of Spanish over anyone, parent, student (but usually parent) who make this decision for their children. I insist to them – You can get all of the study of those important latin roots and cognates in the study of Spanish.
    Let me here reveal that I am a lifelong student of Spanish who’s gone on to be a state certified teacher of the subject. It truly pains me that, with the high school curriculum being as crowded as it is with other requirements, and college also insisting on what it deems to be core requirements, that someone in 2020 would take a side trip to learning what is, and has been for eons, a very DEAD language.
    On top of a syllabus of other pertinent courses, students are robbed from exploring what you have correctly dubbed “the second language of our country”. I have actually sat down with the most recalcitrant of monolingual students and asked them to reflect on a situation where they are going to apply for their first job, and to think upon how they would measure up if put into competition for that job with another equally qualified applicant, who happens to also speak Spanish. “Who do you think the employer would hire?” The answer is always – the other person.
    This may be a cop-out, but I just had to link you to another very capable blogger, Donald Clark, who addressed this issue many years ago, in a blog post titled: 10 reasons to NOT teach Latin (reductio ad absurdum). The link is at:
    http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-reasons-not-to-learn-latin.html .
    Thanks for your well thought out blogpost. I sincerely hope it will encourage other madrecitas to do “lo correcto.”

Leave a Reply