The Classics Department is a small, relatively new department with one full-time teacher (Mr James Kimber) assisted by the Headmaster, Mr. Lambert.
Classics has a dedicated teaching room and an equally dedicated, select group of students. Latin started out as a lunchtime activity five years ago and one of that first cohort is now going on to study Classics at Jesus College, Oxford. Three other Dubai College students have taken up places to read Classics at Oxford or Cambridge in recent years despite not having timetabled Latin lessons, with the Department supporting these students in their extra-curricular studies.
There is an annual Classics trip to Italy or Greece, two lunchtime Greek clubs, and in July this year we will be staging the inaugural Greek play – Antigone – aimed at students from the Lower School.
The Classics Department tries to ignite a spark of curiosity in students who are new to Classics, and to kindle the flames of wonder and enthusiasm in our more experienced students. We read some of the greatest literature ever written and we try to make sense of the modern world through a window to the past.
Students may opt to study Latin in Year 9 instead of Computer Science. There are two lessons per week. We follow a course called So You Really Want to Learn Latin? which provides a rigorous grounding in grammar and an emphasis on English to Latin translation. We read stories from the Disce Latinum course and we also study some poems by Catullus.
Students study the OCR Latin GCSE (9-1) course. This course is equally weighted between Latin language and prose and verse literature. In 2018-19 students will study passages of Caesar, Livy and Pliny relating to travel by land and sea, and sections of Book 2 of Virgil's Aeneid, describing the fall of Troy. In the last academic year 100% of students achieved an A* or an A grade at GCSE.
Students study the OCR Latin A Level course. This combines a study of the Latin language and some prose and verse literature. In 2018-19 Year 13 students will study poems by Ovid, Propertius and Tibullus, Book X of the Aeneid, and extracts of Cicero and Tacitus. Year 12 students will study Horace Odes III and Cicero Philippic II.
What makes a good teacher at Dubai College?
In many ways the same that makes a good Dubai College student – follow your passion; be yourself; carpe diem.
What are you trying to encourage and instil in your students?
Curiosity; passion; a love of learning for its own sake; self-confidence; independence; critical thinking; the pursuit of excellence, truth and beauty; to make connections between the Classical world and the modern.
In your opinion, what makes Dubai College special?
It feels more like a community than a school. I have a strong sense that we are all (teachers, students, administration staff, parents, governors, maintenance staff, caretakers, bus drivers, gardeners…) on the same team working to achieve a shared objective.
Who or what inspires you?
A line of Virgil; Horace’s Odes; students who bring fire and intensity to their studies; the power of the human spirit in adversity; mountains; solitude.
Tell us something not a lot of people know about you.
I was taught by Mary Beard (pretty much an A-list celebrity now!) at Cambridge. I taught Dubai College Headmaster, Mr Lambert, when he was 12! I have a New Zealand passport and a Mountain Leader qualification. I write comedy and once made tea for the New Zealand Prime Minister.
Mr J Kimber, Head of Classics