Amy at Buffaloes and Butterfly Wings said, “I would love to know why you chose to teach your kids Greek over Latin or another language, and what the practical benefits are.”
When we began homeschooling we assumed we would teach our children Latin because in our circles, homeschoolers teach their children Latin. As we researched and prayed, God brought a godly homeschooling family into our life. This family taught their children both Greek and Hebrew, how strange is that? As we got to know them we had a few conversations about priorities and goals. God used that family to help us see that we need to pray about what subjects we choose to teach our children and the message that those choices send.
So our primary reason for teaching Greek as opposed to Latin goes back to our goal in educating our children and that is to equip them to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Both studies (Latin or Greek) will be a considerable investment of our children’s time and both will improve their language, vocabulary, grammar and logic skills (among other things).
Every argument that I’ve seen made for the study of Latin could also be made equally for the study of Greek.
The main argument for teaching Latin is vocabulary and grammar development. Eighty percent of our English vocabulary has its roots in Latin and Greek. Additionally, Latin and Greek share the advantages of grammatical structure. So the advantages of vocabulary and grammar are shared by both Latin and Greek.
The other arguments for teaching Latin: that it enables a child to appreciate literature, understand the infancy of our Graeco/Roman civilization, that the study of the grammar trains the student in the essentials of the scientific method (observation, comparison and generalization) and that Latin provides a great foundation for studying other European languages, all of these arguments could be made equally for the study of Greek. (These reasons for teaching Latin are found in “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning” by Doug Wilson)
The difference comes with what is written in Latin versus what is written in Greek and our focus and purpose in educating our children. If they become proficient in reading Latin they will be able to read and study, in the original tongue, some of the ‘greatest’ (and for the most part godless) logic, philosophy, poetry and history ever written by men. If they become proficient in reading Greek and/or Hebrew they will be able to read and study, in the original tongue, the greatest logic, philosophy, poetry and history ever recorded. Our children will be able to read, in the original tongue, logic, philosophy, poetry and history that is inspired by God.
If we teach our children Hebrew, Greek or both, we give them the gift of being able to study the WORD OF GOD in the original language.
We desire that our children will be focused on gaining a better, more thorough understanding of the Bible rather than other literary works. (I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t study works of men, that would be foolish. I’m merely talking about focus. If our children had a thorough understanding of one or both of the Biblical languages and wished to study Latin, we think it might be a good second or third choice.)
One reason that we chose Greek over other traditional languages such as Spanish is that our children will, Lord willing, use their knowledge of Greek their whole lives, no matter what calling God has for them. Every Christian can benefit from a deeper study of the Bible. It is very possible that some of our children will want to study other languages in the future, depending on the calling that God has on their lives. We will encourage and assist with that as it becomes evident.
These are some of the things that our family has discussed and part of the reason that we have chosen to teach Greek. Our tentative plans for the future include a possible Latin root study and, depending upon how proficient they become with Greek and what direction their lives seems to be taking, a progression to Hebrew or another language.
This is another one of those topics that we must be willing to disagree with love. Our goals are different from other family’s goals and so our homeschool looks different from that of other families. We don’t know many other Christians who are working to teach their children Greek, most of our friends have their children studying Latin. We realize that we hold a minority opinion and would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
I have more to say on this topic, but this gives you our main thoughts in a nutshell.
I posted about our Greek curriculum if you’re interested and as always I’m happy to field questions.