Black Men Speaking Latin – WSJ

Source: Black Men Speaking Latin – WSJ

I wonder if another factor is forming an artificial gang where the peer group focuses on achievement. If you speak Latin, you can use it as a code to communicate with anyone else who speaks Latin. Having a common language, you hang out more with fellow Latin speakers, and these will have very specific interests that don’t involve drugs and crime.

Turns out, too, that the young men of Boys’ Latin have become pretty good at distinguishing their ad hominem from their ad honorem. This month the school received the results on the introductory level National Latin Exam, a test taken last year by students around the world. Among the highlights: Two Boys’ Latin students had perfect scores; 60% of its seventh-graders were recognized for achievement, 20% for outstanding achievement; and the number of Boys’ Latin students who tested above the national average doubled from the year before.

 “I invite anyone who doubts what this does for our students to come to a graduation and watch 100 black boys sharply dressed in caps and gowns and proudly reciting their school pledge in Latin,” says the school’s chief executive officer, David Hardy. “Not only is this an unexpected sight, it defies the low expectations society puts on young black men.”

The traditional arguments for studying Latin are well known. More than half of English words have Latin roots, so students who learn Latin improve their vocabularies and linguistic skills. In addition, the discipline of studying Latin—the logic, the structure, the rigor—helps train young minds to think more clearly and systematically.

….

Why Latin? Partly it’s that the language immediately raises expectations all around. You can’t fake Latin, either. When these boys learn it, they taste the satisfaction that comes from achievement.

Partly it’s the school’s thing. Even if students hate Latin, says Mr. Hardy—maybe especially if they hate it—it’s something everyone at Boys’ Latin goes through, what boot camp at Parris Island is for Marines. It builds identity and esprit de corps.

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