What Today’s Teachers Can Learn From Ælfric Bata, A Drunk 10th Century Monk

You don’t need to turn to Hollywood to find contrarians willing to employ unexpected methods to help kids learn — you need to turn to 10th Century England. Ælfric Bata taught in the late 900s and early 1000s, and was infamous for subverting the “Colloquy,” one of the three primary teaching methods of the time. The other two were the Glossary and the Grammar — both of which are exactly what they sound like — and the Colloquy was used to help students translate all those words and rules from Latin into conversational English.

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Imagine scenes of horny monks soliciting women while consuming barrels of booze. His students were encouraged to swear like sailors; one exchange that’s been preserved for posterity included the insult, “May a beshitting follow you forever!”

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This “Monks Gone Wild” routine wasn’t for nothing, though. Scholars believe Bata was trying to draw his students’ attention “away from conscious piecing together of grammatical structures in the foreign language and … towards communicative use of the language.”

Considering Bata is one of the only teachers whose lessons have survived for over a millennium, maybe it’s time to give the man his due and admit: What the Common Core really needs is more poop jokes.

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