Teacher Gets Schooled

Teacher Gets Schooled

Hockaday teachers work to earn their Ph.D.s.

At the end of the day, when he finishes teaching his class­es at Hockaday, Upper School history teacher Lucio Bened­etto grabs a quick bite to eat, reads his notes from the day before and heads off to his 7 p.m. class. This class, however, is not one he teaches. It is one of the many he has been tak­ing to fulfill the 60 hours of coursework required to obtain a Ph.D. in Humanities.

The Ph.D. process itself var­ies depending on the field, school and the student’s pre­vious education. But the one thing all Ph.D. programs have in common is the completion of the required coursework hours.

At the University of Texas at Dal­las, the 60 hours required for a Ph.D. in humanities include independent stud­ies. In this coursework, “you’re taking higher-level graduate work in what­ever field it is that you’re in,” Benedetto said. “I’m doing humanity studies and literature, so most of my courses are in literature. At UTD, however, you are also required to take some courses out­side of that as an interdisciplinary pro­gram.” Benedetto thus takes not only literature classes, but other courses in history and aesthetics as well.

After completing the requirement of a certain amount of coursework, the student takes an examination in which they must display advanced proficien­cy in reading a foreign language.

Then, they start researching for his or her dissertation paper, a formal, usually very long paper that defends a particular thesis on a certain sub­ject with multiple arguments. For this, a student must go through a reading committee, which assigns the student a group of books to read based on his or her dissertation research.

The student then also must take an oral examination based upon the in­formation from the readings assigned by the reading committee. “It’s essen­tially where you sit and they ques­tion you based on all of these things. I mean, you’re prepared as you can be,” Benedetto said.

To an average observer, the process seems demanding and difficult. But Benedetto doesn’t see it that way. “The process to me isn’t so bad, but being a teacher and getting a dissertation at the same time does sometimes feel a little overwhelming, like teaching here at Hockaday and then having a lot of reading or outside writing to do my­self,” Benedetto said.

However, Benedetto thinks that his experiences with the Ph.D. process is beneficial for his students, too.

“One thing is that I’m regularly writing papers, turning in either one to two JRP-length kind of papers dur­ing a semester, 10 to 15 sometimes 20 pages long,” Benedetto said.

He feels that his regular practice of writing essays, similar to the papers Hockaday students write during the school year, can help him advise stu­dents when they go through similar experiences.

Junior Demre Inanoglu, a student in Benedetto’s AP US History class, agrees. Inanoglu couldn’t decide between two topics, but after discussing with Bene­detto about which topic would be bet­ter suited for her, she finally narrowed her topic down to the evolution of blues into rock and roll in the 1950s.

“He helped me narrow down my topic and was really knowledgeable in [the evolution of blues] and had several great books on it,” Inanoglu said. “He is very knowledgeable about pretty much everything related to his­tory, which really helps the students in writing their JRP.”

Benedetto feels the Ph.D. process has been a positive effect as a whole, not only for his own academic and per­sonal growth but also as a way to better support his own students.

“It gives me some insight into what my students are going through; it keeps my writing fresh, so I feel like I can be a better guide to them. I can be a better guide to them with their research too, for their research proj­ects,” Benedetto said. “I think it’ll be ultimately beneficial.”