Is Latin dead?


Mr. MacFarlane begins his class and asks his students to start translating in their Latin books. If they have any questions, he is happy to help. “He is a great teacher [and] a fair.” said Tyler Macdormand ‘18.

Kyle Bentall, Staff Writer

Hollis Brookline High School has a history of hiring amazing teachers who are committed to the learning process and go above and beyond to help students. One new teacher who has had a great influence on many students at Hollis Brookline High School is Matthew MacFarlane.

Matthew MacFarlane was hired as the Latin teacher beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, after the retirement of Laura Evans. MacFarlane believes that he can help students reach their full potential at HB. Even with the short amount of time here, the students already love the way he teaches. “I love the way he teaches… He is funny and has great enthusiasm in the classroom,” said Patrick Close ‘18.

Skeptics may say that the Latin language is dead, and that there is no need for it, but MacFarlane believes he can prove people wrong by showing the importance of Latin. Latin is made up of half of our English vocabulary is made up of Latin words and roots! Latin is the language of law, government, logic, and theology. An important reason that it’s essential to teach is that it trains the mind and helps prepare students for learning any language. Latin can teaches all the roots of language and grammar, and makes romance languages easier to learn. This also includes our own English grammar and helps students in several fields in school. “As a heavy influence to English, Latin boosts writing, vocabulary, cultural connections, and many other aspects of academics,” said Macfarlane.

The Latin program at HB has started to grow in the past two years after somewhat falling off the grid, especially in other school systems. “My hope for the Latin program at HB is to bring a fresh look into studying an ancient language. Many students question why we study the tongue of a people whose civilization passed over 1,500 years ago, and it is my job to answer this question. Latin is about language symmetry, precision, etymology, and systemic cohesion that extends beyond the immediate benefit of simply learning a language,” said MacFarlane. It is easy to see that Macfarlane is well-learned and prepared to do his best to help provide a great education for his students.

“My hope is to continue to grow the Latin program at HBHS through both engaging and relevant courses, and through the Greek and Latin club that I’ve started. My own background in Classics is helpful in bringing the cultural component while the students at HB have brought enthusiasm, excellent participation, and a willingness to encounter a people who may be gone now, but are infinitely worth studying,” said MacFarlane. It is clear that he is here to stay and help develop the Latin classes and language department. -MacFarlane was a substitute for Latin last year, and when Evans retired, he was clearly the right choice.