graduate Michael Hayward on his experience teaching ancient Greek at secondary school

Upon graduating from Swansea University I was fortunate to find employment in a local school in my area. At this school they provide an enrichment for students every Friday fifth period – this is when teachers get the opportunity to teach children a topic that is not on the curriculum. I had definitely made my passion and enthusiasm for ancient Greek clear, as within a week I was approached to run an ancient Greek enrichment course – I jumped at the opportunity to do this. I sorely missed teaching ancient Greek through the Literacy through Classics module while I was at Swansea.

I was very daunted at first, as there was strong competition on the enrichment list: animations, create your own garage band, fun with felt, Bake Off and many more! To my amazement and joy, 30 pupils turned up to the first class – yes, ancient Greek is going mainstream!

I had mixed emotions teaching a class of 30 students without the same support as I did when undertaking the module, but I endeavoured to share my love for ancient Greek. I could tell the students were apprehensive about what they were actually going to do, but when I explained we were going to write in ancient Greek there was a loud roar of joy – of course there was scepticism, but that washed away quickly. I was very pleased to have such an enthusiastic bunch, who knew a lot about ancient Greece, and were willing to delve further into the language aspect. Even my TA was eager to learn the language – and has now become a very competent Greek beginner.

Teaching ancient Greek has been a joy: it has become quite popular, with students keen to show off their new found Greek knowledge. It has been inspiring to see them become so fascinated with the language and even where our language has come from. I have tried to make the classes interactive, so we have studied a statue, played verb drama, and even have made swords and shields. Swords and shields was definitely interesting: it was a great challenge in a teaching role, which has provided me with great markers to where ideas have worked and not worked. It has also shown me the creativity of Years 5-8: they’re definitely imaginative. I’ve not seen a bow and arrow made out of cardboard before.

One game I have introduced seems to have proved popular, and is great for helping the students learn the alphabet. My TA and I will think of the most bizarre passage to write on the board, and the students then race to transliterate the passage, and shout the buzzword before anyone else. Yes, they do win a prize if they shout the buzzword first – but I believe they do wish to transliterate the passage. I mean, we’ve had dragons destroying school, teachers crying and unicorns! This enrichment has allowed me to continue my fondness of teaching the ancient Greek language and has made me happy to see so many willing students. Ancient Greek is getting out there – it’s cool! I even received a handmade Christmas card from a student with everything written in Greek and pictures of tridents and lightning bolts – how wonderful is that!

Michael Hayward, graduate student