Julia Gascoyne Fedoryk (Fairfield, CT)

Not a day passes in my classroom that I don’t invoke the spirit of all I learned in the Department of Classical Studies at Dickinson College. And, of course, one of the most influential members of that group of beloved professors was Dr. Philip Lockhart.

Dr. Lockhart was a master at “programming” in a department. The story from the Admissions Office, in the pre-e-mail days, was that he would sit down with the high school transcripts of students newly-admitted to the College and pull out names of Dickinson’s incoming freshmen students who had taken four years of high school Latin. He would find them if they hadn’t already found him. He was the master of the teaching principle “take them where you get them, and bring them along to a place of more understanding” (a principle most of my high school administrators, my current supervisors, think they invented on their own). When Dr. Lockhart had his list of students, then his work began.

In the 80’s, when I was at Dickinson, freshmen who had already taken four year of high school Latin, from private as well as public schools, all fed into Dr. Lockhart’s Livy class. In the tradition of the first century BC, he used Livy to let us cut our teeth on college Latin. After we had suffered through Livy’s praefatio, we worked our way through the stories of the early kingdom . . . reviewing not only our Latin grammar, but, more importantly, our understanding of the old Roman values: virtus, dignitas, auctoritas, pudicitia, clementia, firmitas, gravitas, humanitas, industria, pietas, prudentia, veritas and severitas. There was clearly a higher purpose: to soak us in the tradition of the “old Roman virtues”, to give us a guidebook to help us pick our way through the difficulties of freshman seminars, an embarrassing attempt at the doorknob of the front entrance to Old West, and the relationships we found on Friday and Saturday nights at the library as well as in the upper and lower quads. For Dr. Lockhart, Livy’s stories became the “how to” course for leading a meaningful life. One of my fondest memories is of Dr. Lockhart strolling past the gleaming-white statue of the young Augustus, putting his hand on the statue’s chin and referring to him as “young Gus”.

As a teacher . . . Dr. Lockhart was a master. “Always teach a class just here,” he would tell us, skimming the top of one of my classmates’ heads. “Whenever you learn a new word, it will appear for you again in another context within 24 hours,” (I repeat this to my own students often, and it always seems to prove true.) “Remember, it’s sometimes better to be the tender reed, which blows and bends in the wind than the oak tree, that can be uprooted in a quick blast.” and one he seemed to have created just for me, a double major in Spanish and Latin, whenever I wrote anything in Latin: “You sound just like one of the Roman recruits from the province of Hispania when you compose Latin.”

Philip N. Lockhart believed in each one of us; his nurturing teaching style continues to inspire me in my own classroom every day.

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