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Non sibi sed suis: Service-Learning in an Advanced Latin Course

Mallory Monaco Caterine

Tulane University

This paper highlights the first and most important initiative of the newly founded Committee of Classics in the Community by relating my experience of partnering with an Aequora-site while teaching for the first time advanced Latin with a service-learning component. Public service is a hallmark of the identity of my university, where all undergraduates are required to complete a two-tier service-learning requirement. The university’s motto – non sibi, sed suis – is a recurring theme in its branding as an outward-facing academic institution. In the Spring 2017 semester, I offered an advanced Latin reading course on Cicero’s De Officiis that featured an optional 20-hour service-learning project. The project consisted of establishing and running an Aequora site at a local elementary school, where students worked with 4th graders in a weekly after-school enrichment program, teaching them basic Latin vocabulary and Roman culture as a means to improve their English literacy skills and inspire a lifelong love of learning. While modern language courses frequently have a service-learning designation, and some Classical Studies courses have also worked with community partners, this was the first of our ancient language courses to receive the service-learning designation.

This presentation aims to examine the opportunities and pitfalls – for faculty, students, universities, community partners, and the SCS’s Committee on Classics in the Community – found in designing and running an advanced language class as a service-learning course. The first part will focus on course design: the choice of Cicero’s De Officiis, not only as a text for improving Latin fluency, but more importantly as a springboard for discussion of civic duty writ large; the incorporation of critical reflection assignments into an otherwise traditional reading course. I will then discuss the most illuminating experiences and observations from the course (my own, my students’, and the elementary students’) concerning the ethics of this sort of Classics outreach, the impact of teaching and learning Latin inside and outside of the classroom, and other salient issues that emerged as the semester progresses. Finally, I will examine whether service-learning in an ancient language program is actually “et sibi et suis” in the ways in which it can improve the enrollment and visibility of struggling language programs, encourage more meaningful engagement with ancient texts, while relying on student and faculty labor to provide a public service. I hope to explore with the audience and my fellow panelists the extent to which a course like this can serve as a viable part of the SCS initiative to promote “Classics in the Community:” is it practical? effective? and in keeping with our mission? I look forward to live feedback and our larger conversation in the open mic session.

Session/Panel Title:

Outreach Open Mic

Session/Paper Number

41.3

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