“Joyful Latin Learning” is the theme of “Tres Columnae” (our working title), which aims to be everyone’s home on the Web for (you guessed it!) Joyful Latin Learning. In fact, we aim to build a Joyful Learning Community where all kinds of people can come together to learn about the Latin language, the history and culture of the Roman Empire, and the ways that Latin (and the Romans) have influenced today’s languages and cultures. We’ll be launching the actual website (and the Joyful Learning Community) early in 2010. But first, we want to spread the word, to invite people to join us, and to let you know what’s special and different about “Tres Columnae.”
So, what exactly is a Joyful Learning Community? And why would anyone want to join one … especially one that focuses on Latin and the Roman Empire? When I talk about “Joyful Learning,” I’m implying that real, lasting learning is (or should be) fun and enjoyable. Now, some parts may still be challenging – or even a bit tiring – at times, but as a whole, and over time, the process should be enjoyable. If it’s boring and unpleasant all the time, something is wrong!
When I talk about a “Learning Community,” I’m implying that real learning doesn’t happen in isolation. Of course, it’s possible to learn a lot of things by yourself, but the best, deepest learning happens when you can share ideas with others – especially if it’s a group that is interested in the same things you find fascinating. That type of Learning Community will probably become a Joyful Community, a place where people enjoy spending time with each other, sharing with each other, and learning from each other. It’s the type of community I’ve tried to create in my classrooms for the past 18 years … but I want to make it available to more people, including those who would not normally have the chance to be in a physical classroom with me.
So, even if you’re intrigued by the idea of a Joyful Learning Community, why would you want to study Latin – or the Roman Empire – at all? Especially in the 21st century?! Wouldn’t it make sense to study something more practical, or more immediately applicable to the Web 2.0 / 3.0 world of today? Of course, if you’re fascinated by the Romans, or if you’ve always wanted to learn Latin, or if you have fond memories of Latin and want to re-learn it, you probably don’t need any reasons. If that doesn’t describe you, though, there are several reasons you still might want to consider joining us. First, Latin has had a tremendous influence on many of today’s languages, including English. Depending on how you count, at least 50% of English words come directly or indirectly from Latin roots … and the number is higher in specialized technical vocabulary. Even after Latin was no one’s native language, it was the second language of many educated people during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and right down into the 20th century. All kinds of famous people read and wrote in Latin, and lots of their writings have never been translated into English. Third, even if you’re not interested in “later” Latin, the Roman Empire was a fascinating place with a lot of major similarities to the world today. By studying the Romans, and by thinking and talking about them, we can think and talk about our own world – but we can do this in a safer, less controversial way than if we actually talked about our own world!
So, what will make “Tres Columnae” different from other, more traditional ways to learn Latin or Roman culture? And what is the name all about? It obviously means something like “Three Columns” – but why? Stay tuned for further details….