Re: Teaching Greek

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Mar 02 2000 - 06:08:04 EST

At 10:44 AM +0000 3/2/00, J.K. Aitken wrote:
>Rod Decker writes:
>"It's not the typical opinion, but I think that the more advanced student
>the language ought to be the one teaching first year Greek. Laying the
>right foundation is essential to accomplishing much with the language."
>I would generally agree with this. I am often amazed as a young academic
>that when I go to job interviews I am apologetically told that I will have
>to teach Greek or Hebrew at beginners' level, and they do not always
>believe, I suspect, that I actually enjoy this.
> I think it is a serious point that at least here in the UK
>language teaching is left to the most junior lecturers or often to
>research students or non-full time academic staff. Would it not make a
>great difference if the Full Prof. in New Testament was teaching
>first-year Greek? I think that first this would psychologically show
>students that Greek is important enough to be taught by the Prof., but
>second even at a beginners' level they might be shown the interpretative
>significance of some of the grammar (of course junior lecturers can do
>this as well!).
> As someone who appreciated the teaching experience as a PhD
>student and not being a Professor with many other commitments I may change
>my mind when older, but it seems that our Institutions do undervalue the
>importance of starting out on a sure footing.

I might add to this that we have had a policy in the Classics Department at
Washington University, ever since I arrived in 1961, of having one of the
senior members of the Department teaching the First Year Greek course, and
I don't think we've ever deviated from it.

Nevertheless, I would repeat once again that a very valuable learning
experience is intensive small group study by students in a class apart from
the class itself, wherein different members of the group take
responsibility for organizing the review of current grammar. Questions that
arise can be brought back to the regular class; I've tried to arrange this
several times, and the most successful classes I've ever had have been the
ones that have done that, but of course, every class has its own unique
chemistry, and what works with some students easily does not necessarily
work with others.


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 WWW:

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