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working world and qualify for a job better than the woman who trained for a career ten years earlier and now finds it out of date."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.


Popular Posts