Classicists love Classics, but we Classicists are also increasingly getting ourselves mobilise to spread the love of Classics. It’s not easy always to have the chance to love Classics and we Classicists frequently speak to other Classicists, so in our bubble we may not always be aware that some people have no idea what Classics is. In this weekend’s inaugural conference of the project Classics in Communities we can see a group of keen, enthusiastic Classicists keen to address this.
The conference was attended by over 100 delegates and saw a very packed schedule – so packed that it was impossible to fit tea provision in until 4pm! In the day delegates were treated to reports of inspiring projects and brilliant individual efforts devoted to spreading the word of Classics. We hope to bring a fuller report anon.
The Classics in Communities project is itself a manifestation of the efforts of at least three individuals.
Outreach has been very much a buzzword in university-level academia and across the land we see varying levels of community and school engagements. The Classics outreach effort at the University of Oxford, ably and keenly led by Mai Musié, have tried to bring Classics to a greater audience and that should be saluted.
The Iris Project is a group that supports the outreach effort of various university Classics department. The project is based in Oxford and it recently opened and began running East Oxford Community Classics Centre, taking over a room at Cheney School in East Oxford. The Centre, and the project as a whole, exposes Classics to students who may never have enjoyed experiences in learning about the languages or stories of antiquity. The energies and vision of Dr Lorna Robinson is most laudable.
Evelien Bracke is the initiator of the Latin in the Park project in Swansea. In a pleasant setting students are able to acquire and practise Latin under the guidance of instructors. It is difficult to imagine a project such as this being realised without the organisation and oversight of Evelien.
There are many more who shared their projects: Steve Hunt, Bob Lister, Francesca Richards, Elisabeta Caçao. Some have focused on the primary level of education (which is the theme of this conference) whilst other have really brought Classics out into the community.
How do we do more? Not only to young children but to those beyond the age of compulsory education too. We need to keep Classics in the spotlight and ignite people’s interest in the Classical world from young, or allow people to develop their interest in Classics in their adulthood. The truth is, we all do our little bit and perhaps, if we each have a bit more time, we would do a bit more. We should thank the organisers for organising the conference and, when we do get a chance to have a cup of tea or coffee, we should ask not only what Classics can do for us, but ask also what we can do for Classics.