If I could change just one thing about the education I received growing up, I think I know what it could be. I would have been required to take Latin. No, not a year or two in high school. I’m thinking at least 5 years, maybe even 7 or 8 years, beginning in grade school and culminating in high school.
I used to think that both my K-12 public schooling as well as my education from a private “Top 25” university were quite satisfactory, even borderline superb. Life sure can be humbling when you don’t read Plato’s dialogs in earnest until your late 20s and realize how ignorant—and underserved—you have been all along. I hadn’t even comprehended what it meant to “know” something.
Latin wasn’t an easy first choice. I also would have read more ... way more, particularly the classics. If it were up to me, I would have taken calculus sooner than 12th grade to afford time to go deeper and study multivariable calculus, maybe even some linear algebra, while still in high school. I would have spent more time marveling at the beauty of nature, and learning science by studying how it developed chronologically to give me the opportunity to make the same discoveries that many of the great minds before us made. I would have spent more time memorizing beautiful poetry and learning to play an instrument. I would have studied Aristotelian logic—syllogisms, induction/deduction, the law of non-contradiction, and the different types of fallacies. Ideally, my teachers would have employed the dialectic to engage in a serious discussion of theology, philosophy, and the great ideas of western civilization. I could go on, but I am convinced that more important than any of these was the necessity to learn Latin.
What could Latin possibly have to do with doing well in the field of business? Can Latin help you become an entrepreneur and start a business, or a rock star employee and helping your company thrive and accomplish its mission? I am convinced of both. Personally, I’ve barely begun learning the language, so while I imagine I’ll discover more reasons as I continue studying, for now I can name three powerful ones.
Michael Ortner is the Founder and CEO of Capterra, an online marketplace for business software. He has a business degree from Georgetown University and a philosophy degree from the University of London. Originally from Malvern, PA, Mike resides in McLean, VA where he and his wife homeschool their five children.