Daughters and Liberal Education

I just got back from a wonderful vacation with family.  More on that later, maybe.  I first wanted to post my response to an email I had waiting for me upon my return.
"It doesn't seem logical for a woman to train for a career in the event of widowhood or a rare emergency, if by so doing she bypasses a rich cultural education which would make her a better wife and mother. A man may as well train for motherhood and homemaking if this logic is sound.

The best education of a young woman is a broad, liberal, education. It better prepares her to understand her children, and help them with their education and their life ahead. It helps her equally as a wife. She's more interesting, more open to new ideas. She has a better understanding of the world and is therefore a better citizen.
The woman with a liberal education is actually better prepared to meet and emergency than the woman who has been trained for a career. Her broad education is more inclined to develop creativeness, intelligence, sound reasoning and wisdom. When faced with an emergency she has more ingenuity to solve problems. If she must work, she can find her way into the working world and qualify for a job better than the woman who trained for a career ten years earlier and now finds it out of date."
-Helen Andelin, Fascinating Womanhood

My first thought was that this quote goes against what we've been taught by our prophets and apostles to "get all the education we can in case of calamity."

My second thought was that there is not reason why we women can't get an education for a career AND a liberal education at the same time. I don't necessarily believe we can get a liberal education and automatically get a career. I do believe that you can still get a liberal education while seeking a specific career. Now, if your whole goal in getting an education is to get a degree and a career, then you're not fully preparing yourself for the future. All people must be educated and able to figure out what's next if they lose their jobs. All people need to get as much education as they can.

Liberal education is termed "a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement ... characterized by challenging encounters with important issues, and more a way of studying than a specific course or field of study" by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU). (Wikpedia definition)

A liberal education originally consisted of language and mathematics. Then Plato and Aristotle came along and added grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. "These seven were the requirements in order to become a bechlor of art." (from How to Speak, How to Listen by Mortimer Adler). These requirements now constitute what we call "the generals" in college. Most people (myself included) believe these generals to be unimportant and mundane steps in order to get to the classes we really want to study. I no longer believe this, and wish that I'd taken advantage of these general classes thus more fully receiving a liberal education simply by my attitude. Does that make sense?

So, yes I agree that to get a degree for degree's sake "in case of emergency" may not be the best reason to get an education. But I do believe that we can have BOTH - - a liberal arts education AND an education leading toward a specific career. I agree with ____ that I want to teach my daughters their number one priority is in the home (see Family Proclamation) but that they can be prepared for either emergencies or "out of home" type opportunities. Sister Hinckley once encouraged her granddaughter to not major in Home Economics so that she would have more interesting things to think about while she did her ironing. :-) That's the kind of attitude I want to raise in my daughters.


Parenting Principles to Practice

As the children get older, I'm starting to recognize how parenting changes and how significant early habits really are!  I also just read the most fabulous book, Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax.  WOW!  I have been quoting this book everywhere I go it seems.  People are surely getting sick of me.  There were three very real take home messages for me that I have been pondering since reading.  Three parenting principles that I have somewhat confused me all along, but suddenly became clear. 

Principle #1:  A Familiy is not a Democracy
In the book Sax talks about how it's not logical to give children choices when they don't know what they're really choosing.  For instance, if you say, "Do you want to go to Disneyland or to the museum?"  The kids are most likely going to choose Disneyland simply because it either sounds more fun or their friends have talked about it.  Sax says, "Your job [as a parent] is not to maximize your child's pleasure, but to broaden her horizons." 

I was talking to a friend about this concept and she said, "Well, this is what we've been taught to do.  Give your toddler the choice, 'Do you want the green shirt or the blue shirt.'"  Though this is an appropriate choice to give, we need to be careful of what choices we are really giving them as they get older.  And even with that simple choice, I still find my toddler screaming that he doesn't want either shirt rather than letting Mom just put whatever shirt she wants for that day!  I'm starting to think that maybe we give choices to our children too young. I also think that when we focus on "not requiring" in the TJEd world, we think we need to not ask them to do anything that might make them unhappy.    Still simmering on this one. . .

From An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family, one author writes, "Our job as parents is to help children have the experiences that will help them grow and develop their agency."  Notice he says we need to give them experiences so they can make choices.  Our job, then is to expose our children to lots of different situations (whether they like it or not, more or less) so that they can thus make wiser and more appropriate decisions.  Take them to museums so they know what museum is.  Take them to Disneyland, if that's something you want your children to be exposed to.  Then, when given the choice, they will be better prepared to decide. 

Principle #2:  As your children, they have a right to the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and medical attention.  Anything else is a privilege. 

Duh!  I knew this but at the same time it's been tricky to implement. Difficult because we live in a more affluent society and "What does one dollar matter?"  Life is relatively easy where temporal needs are concerned.  Work isn't nearly  as necessary nor as difficult as it once was.  This is what we tell ourselves anyway.  So, it's easy to give when our children want.  We've been pretty good at not giving our children everything they want, but consistancy is one thing I'm striving to have more of.  I want to teach my children that they earn anything other than those 4 basic things.  I want them to understand that to earn them they must behave a certain way and do certain things.  Again, still simmering.

Principle #3:  "You can't discipline your child if you can't discipline yourself."

For me this equates to love as well.  Avi, a popular children's author once said, "First you have to love them.  If you can convince your children that you love them, you can teach them anything."  When I get unrighteously upset with the children, it's usually having to do with my lack of disciplining myself to teach them with love rather than punishment or criticism.  Again from the In Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family it says, "We do not have the right to control anyone we do not love."  If we want our children to treat one another kindly, we treat them kindly.  If we want our children to study hard, we need to do our tasks with vigor.  If we want our children to clean the bathroom well, we need to train them in love and show them by example what clean bathroom looks like.  As always, it comes back to focussing on YOU not THEM. 

These are my thoughts on this Thursday evening.  I highly recommend this book by Dr. Sax.  There is so much more in there than I can write in one post.


What I'm Loving Now

I LOVE MATH!  I couldn't say that a year or two ago.  Thanks to this group, I read my first "fall-in-love-with-math" book, Fermat's Enigma and loved it!  My husband (a statistician) was thrilled that his wife was finally willing to "talk math" with him.  It made me happy when he'd go to work and gloat about me at work with his stat buddies. 

So, that was the first step.  Then, I recently read The Number Devil.  This was a great moment for me because as I talked about it, my 10 year old son got his hands on it and read it through. 

Next, Life of Fred came into our lives.  Great series.  Even if my son weren't into it right now, I'd still work on these books for myself because they give a whole new perspective on how to think about math.  I must admit also that my son's test scores jumped after working through the first book as well.  Yay for that!

The latest excitement in the subject of math was meeting The Human Calculator at a recent homeschool convention.  This guy was amazing and completely inspirational!!  My son has been using Mathletics the past few days on a free trial and he's been fascinated as well. 

So, I can now proudly say that I do love math! 
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