From joining with the UCD Classics Museum to welcome large school groups to UCD to helping an amazing class of primary-school children in Falkirk, Edinburgh, say “hello” in Ancient Greek, it’s been a hectic year for Access Classics! With the arrival of the end of term, this is the perfect time to sit back, look at some highlights of Access Classics’ activities since September 2021 and, most importantly, thank everyone who helped make this our most successful year yet!
School visits remain at the heart of Access Classics. Although the scourge of Covid-19 limited the possibility of face-to-face visits at the beginning of the school year, the tide began to turn as we approached Christmas, when, not only did we have the opportunity to visit schools again, but we were even accompanied by some of the UCD students on our Access Classics module (more on this later!). Our largest visit coming up to Christmas was to Gonzaga College SJ, where, with the invaluable support of the teachers, we were able to run four simultaneous activities, meeting all first-year students in one morning!
With the New Year came a lot of interest in Access Classics visits, and over the following months we were delighted to interact with lots of schools and students both online and in person. A particular highlight was heading out to Loreto Bray early in the year to meet all the TY students, who enthusiastically threw themselves into the task of writing and translating Ancient Greek! Thank you to all the schools and teachers who reached out to us and helped so much during the visits!
The overarching aim of Access Classics this academic year was collaboration, and we were particularly delighted to expand our working relationship with the UCD Classics Museum, under the careful guidance of the curator, Dr Jo Day. Along with a number of smaller visits, the combined forces of the Classics Museum and Access Classics ran two large visits from Gorey Community School and St Conleth’s College in May, in which the students were broken into smaller groups and rotated between activities in and outside the museum. Although this involved some careful logistical planning (and lots of running around campus!), we were delighted to welcome so many students to UCD and to chat to them about Classics!
Access Classics was delighted to be asked to give a sample lecture at an Access and Lifelong Learning (ALL) Future You event in early May: the opportunity to introduce 150 DEIS school students to monsters in the ancient world was too good to pass up! Looking ahead, we are excited to collaborate (through ALL) with colleagues in other colleges for the Creative Arts Summer School in June, especially as this is the first year of our involvement that will be face to face! We have met some really amazing people at the online Summer Schools over the past two years and can’t wait to meet everyone in person this year!
Access Classics’ Dr Bridget Martin and Dr Christopher Farrell put on their judging hats for the second year in a row and joined colleagues from Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin and the Classical Association of Ireland Teachers (CAIT) to judge the CAIT Young Classicist Awards in May. The level of creativity and engagement was incredibly high this year, and it was no small feat to pick the winners from among the many deserving entries. The Awards have been growing in popularity and scope every year, and we are looking forward to next year’s entries already! As an added bonus this year, the UCD School of Classics became the sponsor for the Palma Lingua Antiqua award which is given for a project based on, or with a large component dedicated to, Latin and/or Ancient Greek (see the winners for this award here)! Well done to all the entrants and to the organisers of this wonderful event!
It has been very gratifying this year to see the Access Classics Transition Year Unit on Classical Studies used (in whole or in part) in so many schools, and we have really enjoyed hearing how teachers are using it, what aspects students enjoy and also some ideas for future iterations of the Unit (keep the comments and suggestions coming!). If you haven’t come across our Unit yet, you can download a copy of the teaching manual and accompanying PowerPoint by clicking on the images below (if you have any questions about the Unit, just drop us an email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also find more TY resources under our Transition Year Unit tab, and make sure to check out our resources for the Junior and Senior Cycle also!
Speaking of the TY Unit, a highlight this year was visiting Ardgillan College, where the amazing teachers Ms Murry and Mr Walsh hope to begin introducing Classics to their students through the Unit in September 2022. We really cannot wait to hear how this goes, and we are delighted to be involved in any way with this wonderful project. Good luck with it, and may many more schools follow!
In the autumn term, Dr Martin Brady, Dr Christopher Farrell and Dr Bridget Martin ran the Access Classics module in UCD for the second time, this time face to face! During this module we train the students to “design and deliver a portfolio of teaching materials in a variety of media” to second-level students. As with last year, the students enthusiastically threw themselves into the module and produced some great work, including a weekly radio show on UCD’s Belfield FM to discuss Classics! As an added bonus, two of the students visited their former secondary schools to talk to some of the students there: thanks a million to Loreto College, Foxrock, and St Fintan’s High School, Sutton, for accommodating this. You can check out the Twitter account the students maintained for the module here.
Getting the message out!
On our home turf in UCD, Access Classics was able to spread the word about our initiative and, more importantly, hear all about the initiatives of our colleagues in the School of Arts and Humanities through an outreach event organised by the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. After listening to our colleagues speak about their Schools’ initiatives, we can safely say the future of outreach is in safe hands! Thank you to Dr Joe Twist and Access Classics’ own Tasneem Filaih for organising this event! Thank you also to the Principal of the UCD College of Arts and Humanities, Professor Sarah Prescott, for her continued support and for inviting us to speak about our initiative at the College Council recently – it was a lovely way to bring the semester’s events to a close! And, finally, to round out a great year in UCD, we had the pleasure of attending a long-delayed in-person ceremony for the UCD Values in Action Award which the team won in 2020! Hearing about the activities and initiatives of the other winners made for a great afternoon!
Beyond UCD, Access Classics’ Dr Bridget Martin joined Lisa Doyle (Trinity College Dublin) and Helen Meaney (Classics Now festival) for the Hublic Sphere Podcast in January to talk about bringing Classics to the public. Thank you so much for Lisa for the invitation to contribute and for the insightful questions and comments during the podcast. Hearing Helen speaking about the amazing work done through the Classics Now festival was a real treat! In a similar vein, Bridget was pleased to join Dr Louise Maguire, Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson and Ms Aryn Penn to speak about “Classical Subjects in Schools: An Update from Ireland” for the Classical Influences and Irish Culture (CLIC) seminars. Using Access Classics as an example, Bridget spoke about Classics outreach in Ireland.
As usual, we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported and interacted with us over the 2021/22 academic year. It has been a very heartening experience to once again visit second-level schools and throw open the doors of UCD to the students: thank you to all of the teachers and students we met this year, and we hope to see you again next year! Thank you to Dr Jo Day for being so accommodating with the UCD Classics museum and with trusting us to bring some artefacts with us on school visits! Thank you to Eleanor Kellett and Maria Wood for their always-wonderful podcasts and help. And thank you to the UCD School of Classics and the College of Arts and Humanities for their constant support.
Keep an eye on the website for any updates/new resources, and get in touch at any point if you have any questions or would like to talk about a visit! Goodbye for now from the Access Classics team: Bridget, Christopher and Tasneem!