Vieron on View
Vieron on View
A candid look into how our Latin teacher captivates the attention of his students
written by Chris Barclay
Dr. Vieron, the man behind all of Upper Learning’s Latin teachings, is deemed as one of the most prestigious teachers at Galloway. Yet, the vast majority has never gotten an inside view into the thought and style of his teaching. We asked him about his feelings on the Galloway community, his style of teaching, and on what Latin offers the students at Galloway.
What do you think is the strongest attribute of the Galloway Community?
You don’t feel as though you’re lost in a crowd. And even if you’ve gone to Galloway for 1 or 2 years, and you leave, you still feel like ‘I was a part of that.’
What do you like most about the students at Galloway?
I think what I take away most is probably within the first couple of weeks, I didn’t feel new. I felt as if I’d been here all my life. Is that strange?
Why do you think the students at Galloway are so welcoming?
They’re (The students) the ones that embrace. They’re not told to do that, it’s just that when a community like that gets formed, it’s them reaching out.
What is your favorite section of Latin to teach?
The new stuff, like seeing [Latin] for the first time, students [being] introduced to Latin inflection, … and they’ve never seen a language where word order doesn’t matter.
How was your first year at Galloway?
It was an absolutely amazing whirlwind of activity, and I like to stay busy, so I like to have plenty to do. And there were tough times, obviously here and there, it was not all perfect, there were some very stressful moments. But at the same time, I was almost impressed, or shocked, when the students would walk in everyday with the same attitude of “what are we learning today” and “If you bore us, we’re going to be upset because we’re here to learn!”
How do you think your Latin class differs from other Latin classes?
... I think about that a lot, actually, because Galloway has a unique teaching philosophy here, while Latin is a pretty traditional subject. Galloway students like to talk, and that can be good or bad … I think of it like a tempest, or a storm or a wave, and I can either try to fight the waves … or I could say “I’m going to ride this wave and go with it” … “and if they see me riding this wave, then students start saying ‘alright, well, let’s work together, and then we can get this done!’”
How did being new at Galloway affect your style of teaching last year?
None of them [the students] had to be there. This was beyond their requirements. Now as a new teacher, many of them were kind of skeptical; they had loved their former Latin teacher and knew that a change in that teacher … could mean a change in whether they would enjoy the subject.
What did you do to get the students focused during the beginning of that year?
We immediately started reading Virgil, (they might not have been completely ready for reading Virgil, but I needed them to get “ah ha! moment-ed) … and we read the first eleven lines, and I put the lines on a google slide… and underneath it I put all the words, and I gave everyone a word, and their job was to parse the word and figure out how it fit into that sentence … and I even color coded it so all the accusatives were red and the nominatives were yellow … and we read it … if I just told it to them it would’ve been mundane, but they were working together to translate it and in those eleven lines (it was a block day, so an hour and a half and they didn’t want to take a break). We spent an hour and a half talking about a mere eleven lines, going off on the meter … and the literary devices … and the grammar … and the historical value to what it was saying: the significance to Homer.
How did that class make an impact on those students early on in the year?
[It was] so jam-packed with such amazing things in these eleven lines, and much later, they told me they would’ve dropped that class until that day when they realized “this stuff is pretty cool, this guy knows his stuff, and we’re going to enjoy this class” ... And we struggled! … but I had to rely on Virgil that day … I had to rely that the Latin was going to sell itself.
Here’s another quote from the interview, showing Dr. Vieron’s opinions about learning
I think it’s really just the thirst for that “ah ha!” moment. I think we’re all really looking for that, whether it’s through education, or through music, or whatever kind of passion you have, and I think people find it, to some extent, in whichever class that they’re in.