Benjamin 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
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
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
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.