To the Editor:

I commend Michael Love on a very well-written and persuasive letter to the editor proposing additional creative programs to join existing outstanding programs in our Wilton Schools and calling for providing the funding for them.

Among his recommendations is the expansion of modern foreign language offerings, including specifically Chinese, a suggestion with which I certainly concur based on legal work with a number of Chinese clients in which having that kind of language education beginning in secondary school (or earlier) would definitely have been very helpful.

However, I disagree with his passing remark on that point that, “Not a lot of people are getting jobs based on their knowledge of Latin or Classical Greek.” I can personally attest that classical language education offered a great foundation for my legal work and, along with excellent secondary school English courses, helped to hone my writing skills.

And in fact, it so happens that our Wilton Schools are blessed with one of the best classical language teachers in the country: Max Gabrielson. That is not hyperbole; his national teaching award of several years ago confirms that statement.

Educator Gabrielson’s courses teach not only language but also history, culture, and philosophy — they’re total immersion — and they regularly garner the highest academically performing students in Wilton High School. Max speaks glowingly of their dedication to their work and their remarkable college-level accomplishments in it.

His students that I have known personally through church go on to premier universities, and one of them who graduated from Wellesley with a dual major in classics and biochemistry is now in medical school. She recently told me that research relied upon by med schools in making their admission decisions indicates that students educated in the classics, liberal arts and philosophy as well as in the biology and chemistry fields long required for med school admission make especially good physicians.

So while I applaud Mr. Love’s recommendations, I feel I cannot leave his passing remark on classics education unaddressed.

Steve Hudspeth

One reply on “Letter: Don’t Give Classical Greek and Latin Education Short Shrift”

  1. Thank you for this.

    Sorry, that was a needlessly glib line (something I seem to have have an unfortunate tendency towards). I have nothing against Classics education, and was not trying to suggest it be abolished – I took a year of Latin in high school myself and gained quite a bit from the experience. And it’s not like people are getting jobs based on their knowledge of James Joyce either 🙂

    But the fact that we’re offering Ancient Greek and not Chinese suggests that either a) there’s not any demand for Chinese, which I’m skeptical of given that there’s enough of it to support a Mandarin school in Wilton Center, b) the administrators are too incompetent / aloof to recognize that demand, which certainly doesn’t match my experience with them, or c) we don’t have the money to launch a Chinese program, which I’m assuming would incur substantial startup costs even if it ultimately involved the same amount of staff time that Greek does.

    It also fits in with my complaints about STEM, namely that we’re under-funding a lot of important subjects. (I didn’t even get into math but our math curriculum is shockingly unambitious too) The course catalog feels like it’s weighted towards what a wealthy suburban school system would look like in the 1980s and, again, given the overall competence of the administration I have to assume that that’s mostly a function of money.

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