On this day in 1568, Roger Ascham died. Celebrate by using the Latin tongue in a plain and perfect way.
Ascham’s influence on education in the Elizabethan period was monumental, even though he only wrote the one book. He argued that it was probably more productive in the long run to lure pupils into a love of learning than to try to beat them into regurgitating Latin by rote.
I have now wished, twice or thrice, this gentle nature to be in a schoolmaster: and, that I have done so, neither by chance, nor without some reason, I will now declare at large why, in mine opinion, love is fitter than fear, gentleness better than beating, to bring up a child rightly in learning.
[…] I do gladly agree with all good schoolmasters in these points : to have children brought to good perfectness in learning; to all honesty in manners; to have all faults rightly amended ; to have every vice severely corrected; but for the order and Way that leadeth rightly to these points we somewhat differ. For commonly, many schoolmasters some, as I have seen, more, as I have heard tell be of so crooked a nature, as, when they meet with a hard-witted scholar, they rather break him than bow him, rather mar him than mend him. For when the schoolmaster is angry with some other matter, then will he soonest fall to beat his scholar; and though he himself should be punished for his folly, yet must he beat some scholar for his pleasure, though there be no cause for him to do so, nor yet fault in the scholar to deserve so.
These, you will say, be fond schoolmasters, and few they be that be found to be such. They be fond, indeed, but surely over many such be found everywhere. But this will I say, that even the wisest of your great beaters do as oft punish nature as they do correct faults. Yea, many times the better nature is sorely punished; for, if one, by quickness of wit, take his lesson readily, another, by hardness of wit, taketh it not so speedily, the first is always commended, the other is commonly punished; when a wise schoolmaster should rather discreetly consider the right disposition of both their natures, and not so much way what either of them is able to do now, as what either of them is likely to do hereafter. For this I know, not only by reading of books in my study, but also by experience of life abroad in the world, that those which be commonly the wisest, the best learned, and best men also, when they be old, were never commonly the quickest of wit when they were young. The causes why, amongst other, which be many, that move me thus to think, be these few, which I will reckon. Quick wits commonly be apt to take, unapt to keep; soon hot and desirous of this and that; as cold and soon weary of the same again; more quick to enter speedily than able to pierce far: even like over sharp tools, whose edges be very soon turned. Such wits delight themselves in easy and pleasant studies, and never pass far forward in high and hard sciences. And therefore the quickest wits commonly may prove the best poets, but not the wisest orators: ready of tongue to speak boldly, not deep of judgment, either for good counsel or wise waiting. Also, for manners and life, quick wits commonly be, in desire, mutable, in purposes unconstant, light to promise anything, ready to forget everything, both benefit and injury; and thereby neither fast to friend nor fearful to foe; inquisitive of every trifle; not secret in greatest affairs; bold with any person; busy in every matter; soothing such as be present, nipping any that is absent; of nature also, always, flattering their betters, envying their equals, despising their inferiors; and, by quickness of wit, very quick and ready, to like none so well as themselves.