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Should it be compulsory to learn Latin and other ancient languages in school?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/4/2017 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 740 times Debate No: 102399
Debate Rounds (3)
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I know that compulsory subjects in school is a contraversial topic but I believe that the ancient world were the building blocks to society today. Not only did they excel economically and politically but in language and the arts as well. I have, along with many others, the theory that learning Latin would give children a step up in education and literacy.


Thanks for challenging me to this debate TheDebatingKnight. I will try my best to respond to your thoughts using the 2000 character limit.

Just because the ancient world functioned in a certain way, doesn't mean that their practices would function well today or even that they weren't without their flaw then. The Greeks were surely our academic and democratic building blocks as a western society, I agree, spread by the Latin Roman Empire after its imperialism was established in Greece, but were by no means economically and politically ideal.

As I understand it, Latin has a very beneficial academic utility but under a capitalist economy offers no practical benefits. Thereby, under a schooling system whose primary aim is to create generations of workers and not academics, I would argue that Latin ought not be a compulsory lesson taught in schools.
Debate Round No. 1


1. Practices functioning in the modern world.

Many of the ancient world's political systems at least influence today's governments. The Greeks were the first to use democracy, oligarchs and an early form of communism. Arguably, without the Ancient empires of the Greeks and the Romans we would still be living tribes.

2.Ideal Political and Economical systems

No system is ever without flaws, that would be an impossible task because there are so many variables in the equation as it were. However, these systems -mostly- were the closest that we have ever got to an ideal world, or at least Europe.
I realise the bloodshed and the assinating associated with the Roman Emperors but there is always going to be an amount of rouge leaders. For the most part, Rome Conquering the majority of Europe is a good thing in the long run.

3. Academics and Workers

I agree that our capalist economy offers no practical benefits nowadays however, Latin and other classical languages help us understand English and other European languages. If you were applying to become a publisher or anything that involves literacy, then you need good aforementioned skills and Latin assists you in that expertise. Nearly 20 percent of people who work in the UK need to some sort of Literacy skills and latin will give you a higher chance of getting a job in that field.

In our growing world, the need for language skills is growing by the second. With a higher percentage of people living and working abroad than at any other time, we need language skills more and more. Latin is the foundation for nearly all European languages and by learning the basics of this particular ancient language it will help you grasp the essentials of foreign languages to a greater extent.


1. Genetic Fallacy

Whilst it is true that the Greeks and Romans were at the cornerstones of western society, just because they started something does not mean that their systems of government should be applied today. They permitted nepotism, slavery, mob rule, gerrymandering-- if anything the Greek governmental system was nothing but a low type of democracy which we've developed as a civilisation into its current form. And, I'm sure you agree that we oughtn't defer to the Romans for their political model of tyranny and imperialism. To call these two states part of an 'ideal world' would be to falsely romanticise them. Both were often just run by the strongest and most powerful. Our type of civilisation is completely different to theirs: applying their policies in practice, would be inimical (harmful) to all our economy, politics and what we believe.

2. Academics and Workers

With technology and the advent of online translation services, the need to learn a language is decreasing more and more; as these technologies advance in complexity and accuracy, why do we need multilingual people? There's an app for that. If only 20% will benefit from Latin in boosting their literacy skills, why should it be compulsory for the other 80% who have no use for it? Surely it ought to be an optional vocation for those 20% who are interested in having literary careers or learning another language and not everyone. Especially when learning Latin is not necessary in learning another language or having literary success, why not focus our attentions on learning the latter two skills instead of spending our time on Latin? It may help us with the roots of words, helping us to understand vocabulary, yet etymology/phrenology is no longer a valued study in our society.
Debate Round No. 2


I am sorry for the typos and missing words in the last round. I was doing it on my mobile phone, so I couldn't see what I was doing very well.

1. Ideal world

There is no ideal world however, Greece and Rome were the first nations to make advances to be on the way to one. Greece in particular exceled in technology, art and science. Greece harboured some of the greatest minds this world has ever seen. Archimedes, Aristotle, Plutarch, Democritus, Diogenes and Heraclitus were just a handful of the philosophers who changed the world forever.

2. Low form of democracy

Of course everything develops overtime but this doesn't necessarily that the originals were harmful to their society. Years from now, our society will be more advanced than it ever has been but this doesn't mean that our political and economic systems right now, are defective.

3. There is an app for that

You aren't always going to have your phone with you; what if you loose it, what if it runs out of battery, what if there isn't any Wi-Fi? All these factors will effect your ability communicate in a foreign country. Close to 70 percent of the world's population speak English (especially in Europe) and in lots of the European countries it is compulsory to learn Latin for at least a year in Secondary schools. Do you see the link? When ordering food in a restaurant you don't order via an app, you rely on them speaking at least a bit of English. (Or your preferred language).

People are studying abroad more and more now and they need to be able to speak at least a portion of the local language.

In the UK, English Literature is compulsory until you are 16 and have reached GCSEs. Latin will help you grasp the concept and it will assist you in passing your exams. It's is the same case for French: Latin would help you pass it and some of the other most important exams.

Nearly all jobs in the world require at least a little bit of literacy and communication skills and Latin will aid you with that skill set.


1 and 2. The Ancient World wasn't all that Great

My point was that we shouldn't look to the Ancients for political guidance today. Athenian democracy (the only Greek democracy which wasn't the rule of the strong) only allowed 10-20% of the population to vote (military and male Athenian citizens) and was subject to mob rule and political coercisions. Plato, was actually very critical of Athenian democracy because of its inherent limitations and faults. Their state of democracy was defective. Therefore, it should not be emulated by modern society.

One small amendment to the list of scholars you produced: Heraclitus was a Persian. And don't forget the mathematicians, including Thales and Pythagoras!

3. Technological Advancement

Is your argument really: we should learn Latin, in case our phones run out of battery? Surely the more logical course of action would be to advance technology, in its availability and complexity, in order have it omnipresent around us thus eliminating any linguistic barriers.

In the UK, actually a lot of food services are now either online deliveries or use store computer interfaces (like in McDonald's) so you can order your meal. And anyway, in a Greek restaurant or any other, you could access Google Translate to order your meal or use signatory gestures (as I'm sure many monolingual tourists do today).

The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in its culture; foreign students are forced to adapt to their environments by being immersed in the vernacular language of where they are studying.

Whilst Latin helps language and literary students have a better grasp on language, it is not necessary for individuals to excel at both. So, I think it would be better to focus students to excel in these two areas rather than dedicate time to a language which will aid them to do so. All I can concede is that perhaps certain common Latin roots should be taught in GCSE English Language lessons.
Debate Round No. 3
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