I may have mentioned before that I subscribe to a few email lists dedicated to somewhat out-of-the-way topics. One of these is a list for people interested in the ancient Greek and Latin languages and literatures. Of course, in the nature of the case, many of my fellow listers are paid schoolmasters (though a surprising number are not). As a result, questions of interest only to the schoolmaster guild take up a fair amount of time on the list.
Several topics recur. Two of the most perennial are 1) How do you keep kids from cheating and plagiarizing in these here Interwebb days, and 2) How can we keep our jobs when nobody wants to learn Latin and Greek?
The two questions collided interestingly in a recent post:
I have a distinct memory of busting a college student back in about 2006 who had cheated from the online Wheelock(*) answer key, and I put so much immortal terror in him he actually dropped the class a week later. I call that a success.
Dear reader, I did not make this up, or change, or omit, a word of it. This is a schoolmaster who is happy about having caused so much ‘terror’ in a student that the student dropped the course, and will probably hate the whole idea of Classical studies for the rest of his life. The lipsmacking tone of the narrative, and the police phraseology — ‘busting’ — depressingly ice the dismal cake.
Really, I think the point may have arrived where we must destroy education in order to save it.
(*) A fine old students’ Latin grammar. I learned Latin out of it, which tells you just how old it is, if not how fine.