March 2006


This is post no. 12 in a series.

I’m Rachelle, a 30-something wife and mother. I was born and raised in Oregon in a Christian family and homeschooled for most of my education. My extended family was very pro-education and I started requesting college brochures at 15 and after graduation attended Biola University in southern California for a year before my money ran out. I took three years off to work, save, and pray and then finished my education at Concordia University in Portland, earning a degree in Humanities and a minor in International Business. The highlight of my college career was attending Oak Hill College in London for a semester.

I have worked in higher education (admissions) for 6 years at three different colleges. While working in Virginia, I met and married my husband, Mike, and we have a 2-yr. old son Ben. I left the full-time work force when Ben was 4 1/2 months to be home with him and we subsequently moved to western Washington state. We are active in Christ the Victor Church, where I help with the church calendar.

I’m excited about the voice that got me a college girl brings to the table for many reasons. One is the lack of support I received from my family when I knew that a college education was the right thing for me to pursue. Secondly, my most recent job in higher education brought me into contact with a lot of people that believed that a college education should not a viable option for women and others who thought the value of college for a girl was an expensive debutante ball where their daughters would be introduced to “a higher calibre” of male prospects for a husband. Third, I encountered opposition from some who presumed that because I was an educated woman in the workplace, I would not be willing to submit to my husband and stay home and raise children. I find this view so biased, as if the modern workforce is such a wonderful place for a woman that once she has experienced it, she’ll never want to leave. I’ve never heard this vocalized by women who have been there, but only those who haven’t worked outside the home, and men. Lastly, I was single until I was 32 and knew that to some I had less value as a single woman than I would have had I been married and having children. The students I worked with often felt this acutely too, and I spent some time with young women in my office who were confused about their place as Christian women in the 21st century. This blog speaks to their inate value as daughters of God in a culture that pulls them between being defined by their economic/educational value or by their relational value (whom they are married to/mother to).

I relish the opportunity to be home full-time with my son and to help my husband manage his life more effectively. I fully recognize that this is a gift that not everyone has the opportunity for, and am thankful that God has let me be home for this season of my life.

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Another reason that college is a good thing…..

I have been trying to put my finger on the phrase that best describes something I often see missing in those who have not had a college experience of some sort. It finally came to me a while back….it is the lack of critical thinking skills.

In a college situation, your work is constantly being scrutinized and held up to public scrutiny. You are forced to not only evaluate the work of others but to thoughtfully consider what they have produced as well, whether it be a project, a written paper, an artistic work, a performance, etc. You develop these skills not only by what you hear others say in their evaluations, but by formulating your own thoughts, presenting them, and then sometimes failing, and sometimes succeeding.

If one goes straight from a high school or homeschooling environment into their own home, this is not developed. Independent study and self-teaching will not give one those skills. Your world seems much too small and it certainly does prohibit the types of ministry you are able to have with others as well as an ability to process and evaluate the world around you. A formal college education, studying with others who have developed these skills and are able to train you to do likewise, can address this.

I am convinced that these are skills that are much needed just to be able to present one’s self to others, whether we are having a discussion with a friend or spouse or if we are debating an issue, hoping to gain credibility for our position. If these skills aren’t developed and polished, I believe you will reach a physical maturity level but will lack an emotional maturity that allows you to listen and hear others and then respond accordingly.

I will give a practical example of this. I have been involved in a Toastmaster’s club for about 5 years. Half of what we do is to present speeches and the other half is to evaluate other’s speeches. My pet peeve is when an evaluator bases his evaluation of someone’s speech solely on his own experience as he listened to the speech. This happens too frequently, sometimes with seasoned club members. I have come to realize that many of the people who do this have had little formal education and have not been forced to think outside of their own boxes. Thus, they only bring their own experiences and own feelings to the table.

Does anyone else see this?

I came across this “rant” on a young high school or college girl’s blog recently and thought it brought up an interesting perspective worthy of College Girl discussion.

“I believe the influences of Christian mothers and romantically-themed movies (cite Ever After, every single Disney movie ever shoved at us, My Fair Lady) lead young Christian women to believe that they aren’t ‘complete’ or that they haven’t fully become a woman until they’ve fallen in love and gotten married. Or at least, Hollywood usually stops at marriage. The Christian mothers press for lawful procreation. Though I’m not sure how widespread this view has become, my mother told me she expected me to marry and have as many children as I could and she expected all other Christian women to take the same course. She explained her view as ‘populating the world with Christians.’ I realize I know nothing of the subject. I beg forgiveness for ignorant remarks. Yet I firmly believe that both these influences- Hollywood’s happily-ever-after with a white knight and the Christian mother’s view of a women’s dominant role as a mother, making the most of her youth- are harmful and lead to premature marriage and an unstable home environment when mothers become disenchanted with the myth.

My solution, like my argument is imperfect. I believe women and Christian women especially should consider their choices before they marry, choose a career or children and stick with your choice. If you intend to marry and start a family right out of college, why even go to college in the first place? Our fight to break free of our culture’s ‘ridiculous obsession with love!’ will be difficult and perhaps impossible but better to go down fighting rather than search for an idealized love that will leave us empty in the end.”

So this made me wonder if there are quite a few moms who are pressuring their daughters into not choosing college. I also want to add the Jane Austin books/moves to the list of romantic media that paints the same view for women, i.e., that you must have a man to be complete.

I thought this writer was asking valid questions.

Any thoughts?

wish I had something more substantial to contribute. maybe soon. ~ joy

Four Jobs I’ve Worked
translator’s assistant in a french manufacturing firm
wrote/produced videos for a high school french curriculum
language tutor (greek, tesl)
executive editor (right now)

Four Places I’ve Lived
greenville, south carolina (birth, college)
warsaw/indianapolis/lapel/pendleton, indiana
kremmling, colorado (camp counselor)
rockford, illinois (to date)

Four Vacations I’ve Taken
winter garden/orlando, florida (epcot and mgm, ’90)
mission, texas/reynosa, mexico (another friend’s wedding, ’96)
sarasota/bradenton, florida (best college friend’s wedding ’98)
fort collins/kremmling/denver, colorado (friends’ wedding, camp visit ’04)

Four Vehicles I’ve Owned Driven
phineas. my ’89 beige honda accord (first love)
my brother’s safari yellow volvo wagon (in a blizzard)
my pastor’s minivan (nerve-wracking! for an airport run)
luther. my ’93 black chevy cavalier wagon (currently totalled)

For a class, I recently read an article* discussing the literacy narrative, a genre of autobiography that relates one’s process of acquiring language/education. In this particular study, the authors looked at George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (or more familiarly, My Fair Lady).

Their topic:Pygmalion raises … questions about the nature of literacy education, about whether literacy can be acquired without institutional training, about the relationship between literacy and socialization, employment, and mobility, about the continuities and tensions between speech and writing, about the influence of popular and literary genres on literacy formation, and about the role of gender in the acquisition of schooled language.”

Their thesis: This is the great literacy myth: “Training in reading and writing [are] the skills necessary for the survival of modern culture as we know it.”

In other words, Literacy (or the education to gain literacy)=Success is a false idea.

In Shaw’s play, Eliza is reformed by Henry Higgins; he trains her to speak and behave like an educated woman. Those who purport education would say this training is helpful, necessary even, for Eliza’s developing of her talents and mind. But the authors of this article (and Shaw, possibly) disagree: “[Eliza’s] journey involves, as we have noted, a failure of memory, an erasure of origin … Henry leaves Eliza with no place in which to use literacy she has been compelled to acquire at Wimpole Street.”

So, the questions they raise for me are thus: Do the benefits of education (particularly for women) outweigh the negatives? Or even, are there negatives? Do uneducated people, as this article suggests, lose something in gaining literacy?

*Article: Eldred, Janet Carey and Peter Mortensen. “Reading Literacy Narratives.” College English, Volume 14, Number 5, September 1992. Pp. 512-39.

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