RE: Machen Redivivus?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 15 1997 - 12:07:11 EDT

At 10:22 AM -0500 9/15/97, Jon Allen Weatherly wrote:
>I find Clay Bartholomew's remarks about the problems with traditional grammars
>to be very provocative. But I find myself thinking of them rather the way that
>Churchill thought of democracy, as the worst possible system, except for all
>But I'd like to hear what others think. Are there alternatives to the
>low-level learning process of memorizing paradigms in the first year, that is,
>alternatives which do actually produce students who can use the language? I
>would appreciate not just a theoretical defense of alternate methods but some
>reflection on actual teaching experiences.

If I may say so without giving offense to Clay (and I hope I can count on
that) I would be a bit surprised if Clay did NOT formulate a question in a
provocative way; I've sort of gotten used to expecting that and being
disappointed if that element is not there!

Here's a quick and dirty answer to a question that deserves a clearer and
fuller account: I do not think that one can avoid learning the
paradigms--one does so at one's peril. But I have taught classical Attic
repeatedly from a textbook (the JACT Reading Greek) that emphasizes reading
lots and lots of connected Greek that is less and less adapted from the
original. It hasn't worked with all, but overall it's been quite
successful. What's objectionable about Machen is the made-up Greek
sentences and the concentration of reading on sentence units rather than
upon the connected sentences and paragraphs of real Greek.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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