Benjamin McKeever, M.Ed.

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 Biographical Sketch

bmckeeverBenjamin McKeever, M.Ed., is culminating a forty-year career in higher education, including thirty-five years at Sinclair Community College (SCC), where he is an English Composition professor in the Academic Foundations Department.  Mr. McKeever has served as president of the SCC Faculty Senate and editor of the Faculty Forum, as well as coordinator of the college’s interdisciplinary initiatives, which promoted critical thinking and writing across the curriculum.

Mr. McKeever is currently actively engaged in Distance Education teaching English composition online and empowering academically underprepared students with the skill and the will to survive and succeed in their college careers.

Mr. McKeever is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English and the Conference on College Composition and Communication as well as a member of the Ohio Association for Developmental Education for which he served as editor of the OADE Bulletin and a member of the National Association for Developmental Education for which he served on the editorial board of the NADE Digest.  Mr. McKeever is also a member of the Sinclair Community College chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Reflections on a Career in Developmental Studies
by Benjamin Mckeever

The twilight of one’s teaching career encourages one to consider the educational legacy one would bequeath to one’s students.  What ability or competency would one have them possess and what attitude or predisposition would one have them express?  Teaching is said to be “an act of faith,” an expression of one’s belief in the learner’s ability to acquire knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in spite of as well as because of the teacher.

 One’s mission was to teach academically underprepared learners how to be students, majors, and professionals in their chosen fields by learning how to learn, change, and relate.  The mission included enabling these so-called non-traditional students to acquire self-confidence, along with their basic skills, and to value their quality of life as well as their eagerly anticipated livelihood.

 Goals were set in the name of academic literacy and cultural competency; objectives were determined, including mastery of the skills required for critical thinking, analytical reading, and expository writing; and a curriculum was created that promised personal fulfillment, educational achievement, and professional employment.

 Rubrics were deployed and heuristics implemented to promote active learning, service learning, and collaborative learning; and models, maxims, and metaphors were employed to share the joy of learning.

 However, a legacy is an elusive entity, as unpredictable as it is inevitable.  What one bequeaths is not always what another inherits.  The dream of success one endeavored to make real may continue to exist only as a bright promise.  The vision of victory one endeavored to impart may continue to exist only as an earnest hope.  Nevertheless, the seed has been planted, and the proverb says, “sow a thought, reap a deed; sow a deed, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

 African-American author James Baldwin once confounded his critics when he declared his life’s goal to be “an honest man and a good writer.”  Baldwin was summarily accused of misplacing his modifiers and imperiously informed he should have said he wanted to be a good man and an honest writer to correctly reflect what his critics thought his priorities ought to be.  Perhaps it is easy to see in their reaction the arrogance of ignorance and the ignorance of arrogance, but how much control does one really have over one’s legacy?

 As an educator, how does one measure the outcome of one’s grand designs and stellar ideals?  Can one map one’s objectives to the outcomes or connect the process to the product without wish fulfillment?  Would the demands of professional responsibility and accountability countenance such uncertainty? 

 The closer one gets to the sunset of one’s career, the clearer one’s legacy becomes at least to oneself.  What one would desire others to derive from one’s endeavors is not intellectual virtuosity but intellectual curiosity and not cultural superiority but cultural humility.  One hopes that such curiosity and humility, together with a measure of intellectual engagement, discipline, and stamina, would lead first to the competency so widely coveted and then to the excellence so much admired.