[b-greek] Re: Learning Greek vs. other languages

From: Alex / Ali (alexali@surf.net.au)
Date: Tue Nov 21 2000 - 15:48:41 EST

Mark Wilson started us thinking about Greek 101 drop-outs.

I think Carl is right in speaking of the hard work as the major deterrent to
learning Greek. In my own student days, I was amazed at the decimation in
the first years ranks. We started with maybe 20 and ended with about 5, and
perhaps three of us continued into second year (this was at Monash Uni in
Melbourne, in the 70s). There's also the reality that some students don't
have aptitude, and it's probably right that they recognise this and pull

I'v taught Greek, mainly NT, for quite some years now (for a short time at
La Trobe uni, through a Bible college here in Australia, and privately to
church classes and individuals); I've seen, too, that the motivation of some
isn't such as to take them through the hard work phase, and some from the
start simply never intend to do more than a year's Greek. In the Bible
college context, I wonder what others think of the tendency - at least to my
knowledge - to make students do a bit of Greek as a component of their
degree. It has seemed to me for a long time that this is only likely to
result in a high attrition rate, as it doesn't take account of motivation or

But, Mark, I appreciate the ideas you threw into the ring, as it's always
good to be challenged to become a better teacher, and I do believe that
teaching makes a difference.

I'll comment on just one further matter, your saying,

>I would ask the would-be students, "Why would you want to put yourself in a
position where you have to be told by others what the Bible actually says

Fair enough, but there is another side of that coin, too. They need also the
wisdom of Socrates, that 'The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like
Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless.' In my own
experience, my teaching has been least productive for those students who had
no need to be told by others what the Bible said - for they already knew.
For these, studying has been but a means of legitimising their own assured
ignorance, which has remained unscathed in spite of the Greek.

Ah, if only there were more hours in the day ... but one of the main issues
for most of us is setting priorities in busy lives; in reality, I don't
think the drop-out rate of students is surprising. But just maybe we're all
wrong, and it's the cost of Greek texts that's the root cause of the problem
(especially buying them from overseas with Australian dollars).


Dr Alex Hopkins (Melbourne, Australia)

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