Education: Latin, SAT and Homework

Stressed with the books? Image from

I’ve haven’t written much here in a while. There are two reasons for that: 1) I’ve taken to tutoring part-time, which is very rewarding and demanding in its own way. So I don’t have quite as much time for blogging. 2) The time I do spend writing has been on other projects, which maybe one day will be ready to show.

I have however, written a few blogs for NovaStarPrep, the tutoring company that I work for. If you’re interested, here are two of them:

How much homework is good?

Per Psychology Today, the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s. Too much homework contributes to overload in high schoolers and disengages students.  But that doesn’t mean we throw out homework entirely; its benefit is the creation and sustainment of discipline, of study habits that produce consistency in skill building. Consistency leads to mastery of subject matter and confidence in the student.

Preparing for the SAT is like training for a marathon

Like a runner training for a marathon, a good coach will assess your strengths and weaknesses, creating a plan and goals which build where you need it and push you to excel where you’re already strong.

Also like a marathon, the athlete’s own dedication matters too. Tutoring is not a super-soldier serum, but it can help you achieve your personal best.


Then, there is my defense of Latin, a little essay that I am proud of in its own right. Here is a big excerpt.

Latin: A Ghost Among Us

Today even, Latin provides the names of most of the body parts of anatomy and physiology that medical science relies upon. Cardiologists, heart doctors, for instance, do not take their name from the germanic “herz,” but from the Latin “cors.” “Ology” is further derived from the Greek “to study.” The name of the “respiratory” system comes from the Latin “spire,” which means “to breath.” Ironically, the word “doctor” itself comes from the Latin verb “to teach,” which is why the title overlaps with academic doctors of philosophy (Ph.D.s). The Latin word for doctor was, suitably, “medicus.”

This fascinating article (←Click on link) gives an overview of the development of medical language and how it has been handed down through cultures as one of the few subject matters that has survived societal rises and falls, giving it a unique linguistic inheritance. The Latin names themselves are still useful for medical students and for patients who wish to understand what type of doctor they are seeing when they visit a “podiatrist.”

  1. Latin is the language of the West

The works of past have formed us more than we tend to realize: Virgil, Cicero, Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas.

The names of the ancient writers, emperors and medieval theologians are largely forgotten, but their influence is indelible. Through language, they gave shape to the philosophical, cultural, theological, and literary debates that drove the great conversations of West Civilization, that have filtered down into today. Latin is one of the great languages of our ancestors and the study of it brings access, awareness and awe at the great novel of history, the most recent lines of which we are writing today–but never in a vacuum, always as continuous with all the previous chapters, whether we see it or not.”

Full article — with introduction– here.

So there are some recent musings. More soon–maybe 😉

So–Would you study Latin based on this? Is there still value in language learning for English speakers? Why or why not? 

How much homework is good? Why are high schoolers so stressed?

Did you ever take the SAT? What do you think of its place in college admissions?


Thought of the Day: The Self-Mastery Required to Care for Children

To remain calm with children for an extended period of time demands great self-mastery.

Any mom or preschool teacher will tell you: all the pulling, whining, spills, bickering etc is enough to drive almost every human being into high-stress mode. Child are also wonderful, of course, with their enormous grins, gleeful dances and purity of heart and emotion. But they are just like us grown-ups: they have bad moods and tantrums and accidents, so when you are with children long enough, eventually you encounter this. And to remain calm during a meltdown, especially with added stressful events such as car breakdowns, injuries, or just a dumped-out bin of legos, requires the utmost of inner-serenity and mastery. A person who does this well, and I have seen a few of them, is often very wise and spiritually advanced to have acquired this level of self-possession.

It is odd and troubling that our economy does not value this at all. Stay-at-home parents, daycare workers and teachers are really not well-respected or high-paying positions in our economy. But they are incredibly important and noble. A good parent or teacher can build up a child; a bad one can tear a child to pieces. And this matters because each of the little children grow up, formed by their life experiences, into adults who must function or attempt to function in the world, who will later determine the shape of the social world. That doesn’t mean adults should take personal responsibility for the outcomes of children, but our actions and behavior toward them really do make an impact, a formative impact. So at the very least, we should accept responsibility for our actions toward children and strive to make them as balanced, calm and caring as possible.

This is just one key example where money does not measure value.