Saturday, May 17, 2008

Graduation Time


It’s the time of year for graduations. They start as early as pre-school and kindergarten, all the way through post graduate school. I attended my son’s graduation from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana last week. He earned his Master’s Degree in Russian and Eastern European Studies and is now diligently seeking employment to be able to sustain his family in the style he would like. Cost of living is rising exponentially and he feels an urgent need to be able to provide for them.
Laura, Kevin’s wife, has her BA in
I am proud Kevin continued on with his education in spite of many obstacles and hurdles. He juggled fatherhood (3 girls), his calling in the bishopric, part-time jobs, and being a “good” husband. He is the first child / grandchild of my parents to go to post graduate school and complete a Master’s Degree. My father had a Master’s in Education, and my mother a Bachelor’s in elementary education with added hours in special education.
My youngest brother achieved a Bachelor’s degree in Science and PE with an AZ teaching certificate, and taught school, then changed careers to Electronics after a 4 year apprenticeship with APS. My BA is in Health Care Management. After practicing as a registered nurse with an associate degree for 15 years, I saw the need for a higher level of education to secure my career. The rest of my siblings did not complete Bachelor’s Degrees. All of them have some higher education – certifications and training.
As women we frequently focus on getting an Mrs. instead of a BA or MS – or even a PhD or JD. Even though we are LDS and are taught to look forward to motherhood – we need to remember self-reliance and a complete, competent education is part of that. Some never marry – and need to be productive and self-sustaining. Others marry – but either loose a husband through divorce or death – or his earning power through accident/illness. It is important that we be able to provide for our children and ourselves rather than be reliant on welfare – from the church or the government, or the “goodwill” of others. Yes, we can practice our faith and prayers, but the Lord also helps those who help themselves.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I do respect and admire those who strive all their lives and work industriously. I am also aware of the many inequities in pay. For instance – teachers are not paid commensurate to the amount of education they have or the importance of their roll.
Some people through “luck”, hard work, or natural talent, manage to obtain a job or engage in some entrepreneurial venture that reimburses them well and provides enough income to raise a family.
So what am I trying to say? I think it is important to foster a love of education, and a sense of duty in our sons and daughters / grandsons and granddaughters so that they will be able to succeed no matter what life’s circumstances throws their way. It should be done through example and encouragement from birth on.
In the Education section on the Provident Living website for our church it says the following: Members of the Church, especially the youth, have always been counseled to do everything necessary to get a good education. This includes receiving the training necessary for employment. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to attend school. We may be concerned about the money, time, or effort required. But because the Lord wants us to be well educated, He will help us attain this goal if we seek His help through prayer and make our best effort.

In the September 2007 New Era “To the Point” question and answer section the following appeared.
Q: “What is more important for women after they get married: to finish an
education or to start a family?”
A: It’s not an either/or decision, because while education is an important step
along every woman’s path, so is starting a family. Decisions about timing
and other details should be made between you, your husband, and the Lord.

My personal feeling is that the answer should be for the woman to complete her education before marriage whenever possible. The accompanying question would be: “What is more important for a woman: to marry or to obtain and complete an education. I was tempted to quit and marry before getting my RN – having only an LPN. My mother strongly encouraged me to finish. I have been so grateful for her wise counsel. Of course each person, family, situation is different. Once again the decision and timing should be considered with fervent prayer and counsel with family members. Both my son and daughter in-law needed to complete their BA’s after they married. They carefully timed their classes and student teaching after their daughter was born so that she would not be left with strangers. They graduated together and our families are very proud of their achievement.

The New Era article continues:
“President Gordon B. Hinckley has often stressed getting a good education. To the women of the Church he says that education “is the latchkey to success in life,” but in the next breath he reminds us of President David O. McKay’s teaching, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (“To the Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 115). While education is important, it shouldn’t displace the importance of children and family—for either men or women.
Your choice to have children does not have to exclude finishing your education, or vice versa. A classroom is not the only place to gain an education. Many part-time or distance study options are available to you if you want to finish your education. Even if you have completed the degree you were seeking, you can always become more educated through personal study and experience.”
I’ve heard some say that it is a waste of education for a woman to have a degree – and then not use it. Certainly no education is ever wasted – whether it be a man or woman. All education helps us be better members of our communities, better able to serve others including our children and other family members, and productive citizens. My daughter-in-law has not taught school or had a formal job since graduation. She does offer voice lessons in trade for babysitting. She also joined a group of sisters in her Ward and has been teaching Joy School to her children and theirs for the past two years. No pay other than happy, well adjusted children. What better reward could there be?
Another factoid is that many companies don’t require a degree in a specific area for hiring – but do require a 4 year degree minimum.
The topical guide lists references on Education from the Old testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, D&C and Pearl of Great Price. I will list a few favorites below:
BOM –1st Nephi starts with:
“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat
in all the learning of my father;”
Proverbs 22:6
“Train up a child in the way he should go:”
D&C 88: 118
“Seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
D&C 88: 127
“School of the prophets.”
D&C 90:15
“Study and learn, and become acquainted with all good;”
D&C 93:16
“ The glory of God is intelligence,”
Abraham 1:2
“Desiring to be one who possessed great knowledge.”

Home schooling is becoming more and more popular. It behooves the parent who thinks about doing so to be adequately educated themselves. Recently I met a mother who plans to home school. She has a bachelor’s degree in English. She is vigorously studying various methods and approaches for homeschooling including on-line possibilities. She is not making this decision lightly. She wants to offer the best to her children, while trying to shield them from the evil and corruption of the world. My cousin home-schooled some of her children – due to unique problems each child had that was not being adequately addressed in the public school system. Now there are more options available that ever before including charter schools, private schools, public educations and parochial schools. Whatever method we decide to use, or interweave into our children’s lives – once again, prayer and careful counseling with family and or church leaders is appropriate.
Coming from a long line of educators starting with my grandparents and continuing on to my paternal aunts and uncles, I suppose I may have stronger feelings about education than others. My maternal grandmother didn’t get to finish more than an elementary education. But she saw to it that each of her siblings and children were able to complete their educations. She also learned at least a college level education through diligent self-study. I admired her greatly for this.
Well, after meandering around in thoughts about education I’ll circle back around to graduation. What is the most important graduation of all? Of course it is our passing the trial of living on earth and making it into the Celestial Kingdom along with our family and loved ones. From personal experience I’ve found that when our temporal lives are in order – our spiritual lives run smoother and visa versa. May we all help each other along the path to happiness.

4 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your son's graduation. Wasn't it Brigham Young who was asked if he could educate only young men or young women, which would it be? I don't know if he gave the answer or if he was quoting someone else of if I'm just making stuff up but I know I've heard it said that whomever it was replied that if you educate a man, you only educate one person but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation... or something to that effect.

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  2. Congratulations, Margaret! I agree, education is very important. I do feel very strongly, however, that too many YA's miss out on a great many blessings by delaying having their families until they complete their educations. There is a reason we are encouraged to practice "life-long learning." President Hinckley spoke very directly to BYU students a number of times in the last couple of years and chastised them for putting off starting their families. There is nothing wrong with "struggling." You said it well... it is a personal matter of prayer between the individual and the Lord. No one else is in the position to judge. I do think that too many parents, in their desire to make life "easier" for their adult children, put too much emphasis on "waiting until you can afford it" to have their families.

    whew...You really got me thinking, Margaret...thanks!

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  3. To Kari:
    I agree to some extent - but there are also children having children. Kids getting married while still in high school or directly there after with no forethought or planning as to how they will provide. I does take more than love to survive temporily. Obviously my son and daughter in law didn't wait. They had one before they graduated with BA's and now have 3.
    Have a great weekend.

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  4. Margaret,
    I apologize for not being clear...I was not referring to "children" still in high school...I was specifically referring to college age young adults and older. I did not mean to sound critical or judgmental. I agree with you whole-heartedly and I always enjoy reading the things your write. It is such a joy to see our children learn and grow and obtain wonderful knowledge.

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