All Spotlights » Craig Benjamin Faculty Spotlight
B.A. with Honors in Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia; B.A. in History and Education, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia; Ph.D. in Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia; Jazz Studies Diploma Program, New South Wales Conservatorium of Music, Sydney Australia; Attended Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
What do you like most about teaching at Grand Valley?
First, the quality of the students. They are very polite and pleasant to be with. They're very bright. They work hard and know the value of that hard work. Then, the facilities. I was struck by the beauty of the campus, the quality of the technology, and the quality of my colleagues. Finally, the liberal education focus. When I realized Grand Valley was committed to liberal education, it really appealed to me. It's really a package of those three things.
What is your favorite class to teach?
History 101 - Introduction to World Civilizations. I literally get to meet students on the day of their first class in college. I have also been teaching a great East Asian class in the Honors College. I teach a lot of classes for first-year students. I get the feeling that's where I'm most effective teaching.
What do students like best about your class?
My very first day here, one student said, "Professor, we don't care what you say, we just want to hear your Australian accent." They also like that my classes are well organized and clearly structured. I'm enthusiastic in the classroom and I grade assignments and get them back to students quickly, and they appreciate that too.
How do you contribute to the success of your students?
Because I do so much work with first-year students who are moving to a new world of thinking and using their minds, I act not only as a good instructor but also as a mentor. I'm strong on encouraging them to explore the world and helping them unlock this great potential that they may not have known was there. It's a profoundly satisfying job.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Don't be a student who fades into the background, who sits in a corner with your eyes down. Engage with your professors. Time management is absolutely crucial here too. Be prepared to let the ideals you've brought here be subject to examination. You don't have to give them up, just be open to finding out who you really are for the first time in your life.
What is the most rewarding aspect about teaching at Grand Valley?
I've been a teacher my whole life. Here's a way to impact the future in a very positive way. You capture students at a crucial point in their lives and help shape and influence them as they go out and change the world. The school's core mission of providing a liberal education is still what's most rewarding to me.