Monday, August 13, 2007

Thoughts on education

I have recently been thinking a great deal on the value of education, and the things I have gained because of my education. How's that for a general statement? Seriously, sometimes it is easy to equate "education" with "how much can I make" or "what kind of a job will it result in". Or sometimes it gets considered in light of the life that accompanies a college education, at least for those of us who attended when younger.

As I look back at my own formal schooling (notice I added "formal" because my education has only accelerated since leaving college), I can answer on all those levels. First, it allowed me to get a job paying triple the wages I had earned previously. Second, it gave me a great deal of confidence, both because I had done something many other young women did not do, and also because of the experiences I was blessed with.

Now that I am one of those "boring" (I hope not) stay-at-home wives and mothers, it is easy to say, "Gee, what good was that education, with all its bumps and bruises as well as high points?"

Hmmm . . . . let me see if I can list some benefits.
First, I know I need to drink deeply from some of the best books. Long ago, I realized I would probably never read every classic ever written and I'm okay with that. At least, I'm okay with that as long as I continue to read and to learn that which is most important or that which I seem prompted to study.

Second, I have a yardstick gained by experience, teachings of excellent teachers, teachings from those I lack respect for (they taught me what to avoid by their example of what I didn't want to become!)

Third, I have a clue of what kind of resources are out there for my children, and I'm not afraid of them. One of the biggest rewards for me is to turn to one of my children for the answer to a question because I know he knows more about that particular subject than I do.

Fourth, I constantly wonder why people don't "get it", and then I realize that they don't read. Amazing!

Fifth, I can echo the hymn, I Stand All Amazed, as I realize the wonders of the universe, or the eccentricities of government, or the complexity of the human psyche. But again, I have to read and I have to dare to wonder. My education taught me that.

Do I make any money from my education? Not directly, at least not in the last 11 years. Hopefully I will never need to again. Will I choose to? Who knows?! Not in the near future!!! But on the other hand, there are many things that I do not have to pay others to teach my children because I have the knowledge and abilities already developed. I have the knowledge that I can save and skimp for those things that are most important when necessary. I have the skills to do that in better style too. When not necessary, I can still use those skills learned through the years of college to better our lives without necessarily requiring a bigger purse (although that certainly is nice and I enjoy having a bigger one!)

The last benefit of my education, both formal and informal, is that I also somehow gained the wisdom of understanding the long view, and that, I think, has made all the difference throughout my life. That can affect money and money's flow, but it has nothing to do with money. It affects decisions, and I think it's what we spend our lives learning.

Maybe there is one more benefit to my pursuing a formal "degree" earlier in my life. I don't feel apologetic about what I do now. I dang proud of what I am doing and proud of my husband for providing for our family. I am pleased with what I can do to contribute to his ability to provide. I wonder if that is the element lacking for so many women. I do not feel one whit behind my husband. He is what he is in large measure because of his efforts and the Lord's help, but I am just as certain that one major factor in his success has been me. And that pleases the Lord, I believe. I think that is as He meant it to be. I cannot fully develop my talents and abilities without my husband, just as he was not able to do so until I came into his life as his wife. Maybe that is part of what being interdependent is about. (That link is to a great article about marriage!)

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