When Dr Greeby, the Master of Pentecost College in this University, was murdered in (note this date) 1933, an undergraduate summarised the actualite thus:
" ... he was returning to his house from delivering his too-well-known lecture on Plato's use of the Enclitics. The whole school of Litterae Humaniores will naturally be under suspicion, but ... I really didn't murder the Master. His lectures were -- if I may say so -- dull, but not to that point exasperating."
"That is a very impudent observation, Mr Radcott," said the Professor severely, "and in execrable taste ... Poor dear Greeby! Such a loss to classical scholarship!".
The dry-as-dust tedium of some Oxford Classics changed very soon after this date; we ... rightly ... attribute much of the transformation to the influx into English academe of the cream of German Jewish scholarship in the secessio doctorum from Hitlerite Germany; a secessio which the great Eduard Fraenkel himself compared to the flight of the scholars from the Library at Alexandria under Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II.
But I feel there might, in more recent years, have been an additional factor.
When I was in teaching, it fascinated me to be told how boring, according, at least, to the students, the teaching had been in those other subjects which they had been compelled to study ... mainly, the sciences. I put this tedium down to the fact that those who taught such subjects were under no pressure to make their subjects alluring or even entertaining. Their subjects were compulsory. They had no Darwinian self-interest in seducing the young people into enjoying scientific studies. So, once the students were given the luxury of opting for their three favourite subjects, the labs didn't see many of them for dust, dry or otherwise.
Tedium is the ultimately unforgivable sin in Education.
We Classicists, on the other hand, knew that, unless we displayed our subject with unashamed meretriciousness, cavorting outrageously and ultra-vulgar in our showmanship, the customers would decline to opt for Latin and Greek, and we would be out of a job. After all, even in 1933 Radcott had 'cut' Dr Greeby's last ante mortem lecture in favour of an engagement with a punt. No wonder Mgr Knox when schoolmastering at Shrewsbury composed his witty piece on The Greek Particles and devised neat little tricks to lure his fascinated pupils into composing Alcaic stanzas without even realising they were doing so.
I still get former pupils reminding me "Father, do you remember when you ..." (I usually don't).
This is what comes into my mind whenever there are yet more calls, since "this country so badly needs more scientists and engineers", for the Young to be peremptorily volentes nolentes compelled to study such subjects.
My Plans For Educational Reform? Sack tedious paedagogues in whatever subjects they are flaunting their disgusting and shameless tedium. Employ even more Greatsmen and Greatswomen in the Treasury and the Foreign Office. Start the tinies on Latin at the age of six; Greek at seven. Close down the PPE Faculty.
Then Britain will be great and glorious again. Rule, Britannia ...