Should dead languages be resurrected in our primary schools? Some of the great minds of English literature have advised against it. George Orwell doubted "whether classical education ever has been or can be successfully carried out without corporal punishment". William Hazlitt said: "Anyone who has passed through the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape."
But the headteachers' union and the Esme Fairbairn Foundation disagree. They say that a pilot scheme in 60 schools has demonstrated that Latin is an excellent vehicle for teaching young children the mechanics of language and also ancient histiory. We're with the teachers. Those who argue against the teaching of the classics have often conspicuously reaped the benefits of such an education themselves. Yes, Latin can sometimes be taxing but, as the Romans might have put it, ad astra per aspera.