Learning Classics is a bit like putting on a magic pair of 3-D glasses. Once you start delving into the language and the culture, you'll start to see it all around you. This blog is a record of the club's journey through the worlds and language of ancient Rome and Greece... and through modern times, too, searching for the influence of classics all around us. You'll also be able to find vocab, home tasks, links and generally enlightening info here, too.

25 April 2015

Lesson 20 - more morality

A bit more of the same as last week for this lesson: parsing exercises online and on paper, then down to some more discussion about Plato and moral dilemmas: do we always act in our own self-interest if there is minimal risk of repercussion, or is there a in-built conscience that checks us? Here's a great summary of the tale of Gyges:

A couple more of our dilemmas this week were:

You have a maths test in a week’s time. You think you’ll do OK in it as you’ve been working hard all term. Your mate is really worried as he’s been finding the work really difficult. Walking home on your own from school you find a brown envelope on the floor. You open it to discover it contains a copy of the test – your teacher must have dropped it. What do you do? Who do you tell? Anyone?

You need to catch the bus: you’ve been late for school three times this week already and you’ll be on report if you’re late again, and your parents will ground you for a month. There’s a party this Saturday that you’ve been looking forward to since you got the invite six weeks ago. All your mates are going. Just as you see the bus pulling up, you notice a kid, no more than four or five, sobbing in a shop doorway by the bus stop. No-one is helping them. What do you do?

Next week, we'll be looking at some more Plato: rather topically, given the upcoming general election, we'll be looking at ideas on the best way to govern/rule/control the masses.

In the meanwhile, there are two important links to look at for our home task. Classics Club now has a dedicated online vocab tool: you can access it in the right hand menu. You'll have to sign up to the Memrise site to access it, but it's a process that's quick and free. Secondly, we've been asked to give our feedback on The Bacchae, which we saw last term. If you have time, please complete the survey here.

17 April 2015

Lesson 19 - Why be good?

"o, s, t, mus, tis, nt" cantat Regina
Classics Club was back in full force after the Easter break today. In our language session, we recapped all the grammar we've learned so far, learned a musical (or humiliating?!) way of remembering the present tense endings, then flexed our parsing muscles as a group and individually. Good stuff, and great recall from the class.

Then we got onto the fun bit. It's not often that students respond to, "Today, we're doing philosophy" with a cheer, but you guys did, and we delved into Plato's ideas on why humans do good or bad things.

But first, a bit about the man and his work:

Jamellia read from Plato's Republic, telling the story of Gyges, who found a ring that turned him invisible. Plato's character, Glaucon, makes the point that people only do the right thing because they fear getting caught. If you could get away with something, you'd do it. In fact, if you didn't, people would think you're a bit of a loser.

Do we agree with Glaucon? We put it to the test. In pairs, we discussed a series of moral dilemmas where the chances of getting into trouble were low or zero, but which (at least to some of us!) just didn't feel quite right. Here's one we discussed:

A close friend gets a job as assistant manager of a shoe shop. You visit them and they give you a brand new pair of trainers saying, "The owner is really an idiot and the inventory system is so bad here they never know what they have in stock. Half the people who work here take stuff home for free. You can have these trainers if you want." 
Rings & invisibility - always trouble
Would you go along with Glaucon, and take the trainers, or would some inner voice stop you? Or perhaps using the analogy of an invisibility ring is misleading: are there ever any actions in life that don't have any possible negative outcomes? The discussion carries on next week!
In the meantime, to help your parsing muscles to become even buffer, this week's home task takes the form of an online quiz-game-thingy - here's the link. Enjoy!