Latin

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd July 1959.

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Photo of Mr John Leavey Mr John Leavey , Heywood and Royton 12:00 am, 2nd July 1959

asked the Minister of Education whether he will make a statement about the place of Latin in school curricula.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

This is a matter for the schools and for individual pupils and their parents. The number of candidates taking Latin in examinations has, in fact, increased considerably in recent years.

Photo of Mr John Leavey Mr John Leavey , Heywood and Royton

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that Answer. Last week, his right hon. Friend said that he would be unable to express a personal opinion. May I ask my hon. Friend whether he would express the official or Ministerial opinion? Is he aware that there are many thousands of hours being devoted to the study of the subject which many people believe are precious hours wasted? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Will he consider using his good offices with those who have authority in these matters to see that this gross waste of time can be avoided?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

Clearly, I must walk warily in this matter. There is no doubt that very many pupils in our schools today can gain great profit from the study of Latin, and Latin is still a very valuable basis for the pursuit of many of the important learned professions. What I will add is that some people doubt, and they are quite entitled to doubt, whether Latin has, perhaps, quite unique qualities as an educational subject in comparison with some other subjects. Beyond that, I would rather not go.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

In view of what the Minister has just said—while I admit that Latin has a place in modern education—does he think that there is any justification for the special prestige which Latin enjoys as a result of the attitude of the older universities? Is not that something on which the Ministry ought to have an opinion?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I think that the conservatism of the older universities with regard to their entrance requirements is something which this House should consider seriously because it has very great advantages—[Interruption.]—as well as being, in some ways, open to criticism.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Look at the results here.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I will merely add this in answer to the hon. Gentleman—it is a point he often raises—that there are many subjects which can be taught from a more liberal or a less liberal point of view. There is no reason whatever why Latin should not be a subject of real educational value, through careful attention to its literary value as well as to the language as actually used by those who spoke it.