A large campaign for the return of two classic languages, ancient Greek and Latin, in the British schools is being launched by writers, actors and scholars in the UK. The head of this campaign is the historian, author and broadcaster, Bettany Hughes.
According to The Sunday Times, this campaign is supported by Boris Johnson, the major of London, playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, crime writer Colin Dexter and actress Joanna Lumley. All four feel that studying classic languages at school was extremely beneficial for them. In fact, Colin Dexter, who was a teacher of ancient Greek and Latin before he gets a successful writer, said that it was the best thing in his life when he was forced to take up Latin at the age of 11 and Greek at the age of 12.
Bettany Hughes, who has presented many documentaries about ancient Sparta, king Minos and Helen of Troy in the British television, pinpoints that there is an augmented interest for these languages. As she said, every week she receives more than 150 mails from people who ask where they can study classics.
The supporters of this campaign aim to have introduced ancient Greek and Latin in 100 public schools till 2020. Today in the UK, only 16% of the public schools teach one of these two languages. Every year, about 60 teachers of classics are retired but only 27 are hired. In the same time, the number of parents who ask that their children are taught classics is gradually augmented.
According to a survey by Bettany Hughes, students who are taught classic languages at school find jobs more easily as adults, while an American survey has shown that students who are taught Latin have better progress in maths and they study foreign languages easier. "It is a tragedy, in the Greek sense of the word, to deprive children of this chance", said Mrs Hughes.