got me a college girl

in celebration of formal education in the life of the Christian girl

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Celebrating Formal Education in the Life of a Christian Girl (Liz)

I've been thinking about this today. Really, what does 'Celebrating Formal Education in the Life of a Christian Girl" mean? What is it that we are celebrating?

College is more than books, papers, and exams. It is more than sitting (or sleeping) through classes and regurgitating the proper information in order to get the proper grade and the proper piece of paper at the end. College is more than something that has to be done in order to make more money, or have a successful career, or be well-educated. It is much more.

In College, I learned how to turn the hall of my wing in the dorm into a slip-n-slide at 2 AM on a Saturday night. Was that a silly, immature thing to do? Sure. But it taught me the importance of fellowship, laughter, and good friends. In College, I learned that the arrangement of dorm furniture is an exact science. And it taught me persistence, determination, and the benefits of brute strength. In College, I learned that sometimes relationships end and that's okay. It taught me the importance of grace, trust in God, and being true to myself. In College, I learned that I can't control the actions or emotions of other people. It taught me to be gracious, gentle, and sensitive. In College, I learned that sometimes bad things happen to good people. And it taught me the amazing power of prayer.

So I celebrate formal education in the life of a Christian girl. My formal education was a time of learning - academically, spiritually, emotionally, and realistically.

How ya gonna keep 'um down on the farm once they've seen (Karen)

It seems to me that possibly one of the reasons that people don't want women to go to college is that it is assumed that women will no longer be interested in being wives and raising children and overseeing the running of households once they have tasted of life outside of the walls of their house.

This is nonsense. Every one, whether a man or a woman, has seasons of life. We begin as children who are in the season of learning and studying, we grow into adulthood and continue learning things, but with more specific goals in mind. When we marry, we have new responsibilities, especially to our husbands. As mothers, we have children who must be put first and nurtured and cared for, setting aside our own personal enrichment goals. Then, as the children grow older, we have more opportunites to seek out our own interests. This is part of God's plan. If children were to be abandoned or raised by caregivers or fathers, moms wouldn't be the ones with the breasts. And if we were not to think and study and contribute to our world, especially as Christians, we wouldn't have brains.

To me, it is all a matter of looking at our lives in seasons and reveling in each season as it comes along. Just because a woman has many interests and loves to learn and study does not mean that she does not value all the stages and seasons of her life and will enjoy a home and family.

Isn't it interesting that in God's perfect plan, women reach a time when they are no longer able to physically bear and nurse children? Did he intend for women to dry up and blow away then? No! It then becomes the season when you can delight in being an older woman!

An older homeschooling mother told me that she has, for several decades now, kept a part of her week to pursue things that she enjoys, to study and learn things just for her own experience, believing that she is a better wife and mother because of that. I, too, have tried to do that and would agree that I am a much more interesting person because of it.

That is exactly the point of this blog, in my humble opinion. Placing women into categories where they are not supposed to better themselves educationally harms every member of the family, every member of the body of Christ. Defining roles and training and "girl" and "boy" goes beyond what the Scriptures teach.

As a WIT, woman in transition, each year moving out of the "stay at home mom stage" of life and into the "I am grandmama and I have learned a thing or two by gum" stage, let me say that I have seen college, I have loved being down on the farm, and now look forward to the days when I can do both.

The Cult of Domesticity (Camille)

From Man Cannot Speak for Her:

"The concept of 'true womanhood,' or the 'woman belle ideal,' defined females as 'other,' as suited only for a limited repertoire of gender-based roles, and as the repository of cherished but commercially useless spiritual and human values. These attitudes rose in response to the urbanization and industrialization of the nineteenth century, which separated home and work. As the cult of domesticity was codified in the United States in the early part of the century, two distinct subcultures emerged. Man's place was the world outside the home, the public realm of politics and finance; man's nature was thought to be lustful, amoral, competitive, and ambitious. Woman's place was the home, a haven from amoral capitalism and dirty politics, where 'the heart was,' where the spiritual and emotional needs of husband and children were met by a 'ministering angel.' Woman's nature was pure, pious, domestic, and submissive. She was to remain entirely in the private sphere of the home, eschewing any appearance of individuality, leadership, or aggressiveness. Her purity depended on her domesticity; the woman who was compelled by economic need or slavery to work away from her own hearth was tainted. However, women's alleged moral superiority generated a conflict out of which the woman's rights movement emerged.

As defined, woman's role contained a contradiction that became apparent as women responded to what they saw as great moral wrongs. Despite their allegedly greater moral sensitivity, women were censured for their efforts against the evils of prostitution and slavery."

Treading in her Footsteps (Camille)

On February 17, 1905, a new memorial was placed in Washington D. C.'s Statuary Hall in the Capitol to represent the citizens of Illinois. Every state preceding this time had chosen one of their sons. Illinois, however, was the first and the only to honor one of its daughters. Pictured standing next to a pulpit as if about to preach, Frances Willard*teacher, college president, first Dean of Women at Northwestern University, temperance activist*was easily recognized at her death as the one of the most influential women in the world.

She became the first woman President of the Evanston College for Ladies and defined it as "the paradise of women" with women "for the first time, recognized and proved as the peers of men in administrative power"(Willard, Glimpses 199). She instituted co-educational literary societies with Northwestern University in order to "break down prejudice against women's public speech and work. . .[and to] refine the young men and develop intellectual power in girls"(Willard, Glimpses 207). She established complete self-government: "Our Self-governed do as they please, have all the privileges of teachers, subject only to general order of exercises, such as go to bed at 9:30, to rise at 6:45," and, of course, mandatory church attendance (Willard, Glimpses 215).

In June, 1872, Evanston College had its first and only Commencement. The Chicago Fire eight months earlier ruined any hopes for future financial help from local business interests. Therefore, the Evanston College for Ladies became part of Northwestern University with the Evanston faculty still in complete charge of their students (Willard, Glimpses 227). Miss Willard became Professor of Aesthetics and the first Dean of Women teaching Freshman Rhetoric and Composition (Willard, Glimpses 229-30).

Isn't it interesting that this moral Christian lady saw education for women as a way to refine men? What happens when we leave the educational system then?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Boys vs. Girls (Camille)

Okay – are there different reasons for a boy to attend college than for a girl? Do other people think so? Should there be different reasons? I don’t know that my parents ever told me that there were different reasons for Steve than for me? ::shrug:: Will I tell my son different things than I’ll tell my (Lord willing) daughter? Everybody jokes about the MRS degree. We all giggle at those Becky-Home-Eckies taking Greek among all those potential preacher-boy husbands and making sure their piano skills are in order. ::scratching my head::

The First Thing I Learned in College (Liz)

The first thing I learned in College is that knowing exactly where you're going and what you're going to do when you get there is highly overrated.

I walked onto campus fresh out of high school (a year early) knowing exactly what my major was, what classes I needed to take, and what road I needed to take to get where I was going. I didn't take college seriously as an education, an experience, or a way to better myself. It was just an extension of high school. It was what was expected of me, so I was there.

As time passed I realized that I did not, in fact, know everything about everything. I didn't even really know myself. I started paying attention to the college experience - the classes, dorm life, campus activities, and everything I could absorb. Slowly, I learned that ambition isn't everything. Having every detail of the future already planned is no fun, as it allows for no spontanaeity.

College is about the here and now, not just about the end result and the where you are going. So is life. I'm still unsure about what "career path" I want to take. Until I figure it out, I'm going to continue busying myself with absorbing and learning from the right now.

The First Thing I Learned in College (Joy)

There was an Italian cafe across the street from campus my freshman year. The building that housed this little cafe was eerily jinxed, maybe even haunted, or perhaps owned by people who would deny the importance of a college education. It was there that I learned my first college-days lesson, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Restauranteurs were like transient phantoms in that building. As soon as a restaurant would apply for a liquor license, my alma mater and a brood of other concerned citizens would protest (seeing as how it was illegal in our town for a restaurant to sell alcohol a mere bottle's toss away from a school where minors roamed). Regardless of whether the city granted, withheld, or revoked such a license, the neighborhood consumers would stop consuming -- whether a Mexican place or a deli or a ritzy steak joint, no restaurant could turn a profit after taking the suicidal liquor-license-application step.

Disregarding the historical tradition, new owners would invariably feel compelled to file for a license, apparently believing a liquor license would reap for them more positive returns than the negative effects of the lost across-the-street business. They were always wrong. By the time I left school, nearly 8 years later, I didn't even know what restaurant was currently occupying the building -- maybe they even tore it down? -- because I had become so accustomed to ruling it out as a possible place to eat.

My freshman year, however, the occupants were Italian chefs, jovially cranking out affordable pasta and hot Italian subs or pizza on plastic plates, all Fazoli's-like. An acquaintance from class or the dorms took me over there with a group of upperclassmen. A guy at another table was a graduating senior whom I knew from my hometown. I think it's a pity, in a way, that he could've gone ahead and taught me this lesson when we were growing up together, but here on out he will bask in fame, having taught me the first real useful thing I remember learning at college. (I still count it as "college," even though we were indeed a bottle's toss off campus at the time.)

Pay attention, ladies, for I think I may say this only once. I own verbal rights to pass the legacy on to my children, but I've never investigated the royalties for publishing information of this nature via the blog venue. I have refrained for three years on my own blog, and I feel that now must be the perfect time and platform to flash the worldwide web with wisdom.

The how-to is easy, and the honing-to-perfection is pretty much a snap, as well.

1. Take a plastic straw,
2. Insert it into your [pop] (or "coke," if you attend college in the South, "soda" if in some parts of Illinois and Minnesota, etc.),
3. Suck up a strawful of [pop],
4. Place your tongue at the top (thereby to hold said [pop] at the same level),
5. Raise the strawful of [pop] an inch or two above the level of the rest of the [pop] in your glass (but do not remove the straw entirely out of the glass nor away from the glass),
6. Pinch the bottom of the straw, closed firmly between two fingers,
7. Remove your tongue as the vacuum cap (the [pop] will remain in the straw now because of your pinching at the foot of it),
8. Take a deep breath,
9. Blow slowly but steadily across the top of the straw, WHILST
10. Simultaneously, and equally as slowly-and-steadily, loosening your pinch at the foot of the straw,
11. Allow the [pop] to escape slowly and steadily out the bottom of the straw and into your glass, WHILST
12. Still blowing, you will hear a hollow whistle whose sound will gradually lower in pitch as more air appears in your straw and less [pop] clogs it.

When rightly executed, you'll find this no-mess talent has the potential to entertain fellow diners and spur tabletalk from friends or complete strangers for half-hours on end!

A childish prank? Perhaps. Or maybe something more. I am 29, as yet still unwed, and looking forward to family life, if the Lord permits. I haven't done a lot of pre-planning for my future wedding, nor do I sit around making up traditions to incorporate into my future home. In excess, such pre-prep seems contrived, inauthentic, simply because I have no tangible "hooks to hang it on." It's like counting ice cubes that are probably going to melt.

I do have one pre-fabbed rule established for my future household, despite my virgin naivete of child-rearing pits and loopholes: MY KIDS MAY SING AND WHISTLE AT THE TABLE, SHOULD THEY EVER SO DESIRE.

I am a soup-aholic, and I blow on my hot soup to cool it off. (I even blow on my frozen ice cream to melt it down.) And why just blow, when you could whistle a little tune at the same time? I do indeed whistle, and I plan to keep on whistling over my soup in my own home, and I do not plan to stop whistling when I start sharing my table with my kids. One group of college-friends and I used to close our weekly lunches with a hymn -- right there in the dining common amongst thousands of people. A little music is good for the digestion.

Can I possibly imagine that my own offspring might embarrass me one day if I allow them to cultivate such a habit? I do imagine they will. Do I fear it? (Ought we fear embarrassment?) No, not really. There are worse fates. I would like to teach them to consider the expectations and preferences of other households (table-singing on visits or in public would be a matter of disobedience punishable by revoked table-singing privileges at home), but I would also like to teach them to appreciate life, to share themselves, to harmonize, to delight in the smallest gifts, and to do it together.

And I guarantee they won't be waiting till college to learn the lesson of the whistling straw.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

History of Education for Women (Camille)

A brief overview of the history of women’s education proves that our empowerment has always been directly tied to our ability to access higher education. The same is true for other disempowered groups.


So I guess the question that this academic has to ask is this: what’s really going on here? By dismissing college for women, what power is being stolen from them?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Training Wheels (Kristen)

My husband and I were talking last week about why college is important and we decided that college is like real life with training wheels. I have two siblings in their mid teens, living at home. My parents pay for almost everything they want and need, but dole out money as needs arise, not lump sums. They also do their laundry, remind them to study for tests, help them decide what classes to take, etc.

When they go off to college, those things will change. Whether they work or my parents support them, they will have to manage money. They will do their own laundry and clean up after themselves. They will keep track of their own classes and what needs to be done. But they will do all those things in the safety of an environment where there are safety nets if they fail. They'll have an RA and everyone in the laundry room to ask about laundry (I helped out more than my fair share of people the years I used the campus laundry!). They'll have a limited amount of money (and no credit cards -- family rule!) so that if they mismanage their money, they won't lose much other than nutrition when they have to eat ramen. They will have resources like learning centers and sympathetic professors to help them navigate their classes if they need help.

Going straight from home to moving away to start a job or straight to marriage won't give them that safety net. We all fall down a few times before we get it together and I'd rather my siblings and my children get real world practice before they are thrown out into a place where it really counts.

Apprentices and Masters (Mollie)

Many of the anti-college crowd embrace apprenticeship. They send off their children at the appropriate age in order to have them learn the trade or whatnot from the "master." Personally I believe that apprenticeship can be a profitable and worthy education choice for some people. What concerns me, however, is that many of the "masters" chosen to educate the children of these anti-college parents are actually not "masters" of the craft at all. They may have some talent in an area, but they are certainly not worthy of the title "master." I find it strange to call such a person "master" when she hasn't seen enough of the craft in order to have outside sources say, "This is a successful person who is a master of their craft!"

If, for instance, I were to send my daughter to apprentice under a Master Homekeeper, I would send her to work under the guidance of something of a Christian Martha Stewart. I would insist that the Master be an ingenious gardener, able to identify all plant life (using latin names, of course). She would be a fabulous cook, knowledgeable in the cuisine of many cultures, able to chop quickly without cutting herself, organized enough to have a well stocked kitchen at all times yet on a reasonable budget. The master would have to have magic in her fingers as she sat at the sewing machine. She would never have pizza stuck to her kitchen floor and if, for some reason, something similar were to be stuck to her floor she would not automatically give the clean-up job to her apprentice -- she would do it herself and her apprentice would see that mama normally takes care of such jobs. She would be a dumpster diver and treasure seeker. She would have a well-worn Bible and would teach my daughter from it regularly. She would have a model marriage in which her husband serves and loves her, in which she serves and honors him. She would have to be a gentle mother, with kind hands and words. She would not take advantage of my daughter, her apprentice, delegating the primary childcare to a novice. She would teach this greatly important task to my daughter by example, primarily. She would be well-versed in child development, and would pass this, as well as the practical aspects of child-rearing and homekeeping.

Above all, I would want to be sure that my daughter would be learning that a mother needs to know many, many things in order to be most successful in her job -- and that oftentimes, mama has to "go it alone." Her husband will be there some of the time, but for the most part, mother carries the homekeeping and child-rearing burdens. She will need to know that she may not have a "mother's helper" in her own home one day, that she is not apprenticing to be a mama who has a mama's helper, but that she is apprenticing to do the job, to do it well, without complaining and with joy, by herself.

Of course, college girl that I am, there is about a 99% chance my daughter will be a college girl, too, so . . .

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Educated Wife and Mother (Mollie)

Occasionally I will stumble across the uninformed person who poses the question,"Why did you spend so much time and money to earn a master's degree when you were 'just' going to be a stay at home mom?" Perhaps it is unfair to consider the askers of such questions to be uninformed. But I can only wonder what it is that they believe is so mundane about homekeeping and mothering that only something like docile idiocy is required in order to pursue such a career. Interestingly, most of the people who have posed such questions to me are firm believers that women should be firmly planted in the home and not whoring about in the
secular workplace. They value motherhood and wifeliness. In fact, the mothers in such homes are homeschooling their children, educating the next generation, attempting to produce fruitful, successful, well-adjusted adults along the way. And yet their attitudes about educating women formally (as opposed to an informal apprenticeship) are astonishingly anti-woman. Many of them believe their wives are intelligent and capable and yet they highly disapprove of women attending college, of women honing their natural intelligence. I'm sure there are many reasons for such beliefs, perhaps one of the lowest being a fear in such men that their wives and/or daughters will surpass them intellectually. Shame on them! Perhaps our resident historian should give us a psychological analysis of men with such thinking! ::poking C with stick::

In all sincerity I must ask: why should wives and mothers and homeschool educators not be educated so that their God-given talents, brains, abilities and gifts be the very best that they can possibly be? Why should these gifts be squandered? Should the woman who believes that her "place" is in the home be any less educated than a woman who works at a paying job? Why should such a woman *not* pursue college, just because she will be washing dishes, changing diapers and sorting laundry on a daily basis for years to come?

I don't know that I want to defend the expense, from money to time, that it took to earn my degrees. I don't really think a justification is necessary from my side of the issue. I've yet to hear a satisfying justification as to why women do not need to be educated. Until then I have to say that all women would benefit from a formal education, that most women should seriously consider and attend college, and that those who choose not to pursue college need to be making educated, defendable choices.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

College = Me (Camille)

I'm not saying it's this way for everyone, but it most certainly is this way for me.

I so closely identify with my college experience that I couldn't leave. This is home for me.

So when I hear people say college grads are snobs, college grads are greedy, college is just like a house of prostitution, yup, I take it personally.

Imagine anything you so closely identify with: motherhood or Christianity, for instance. And then you hear someone say, "Ah -- those women who do extended breastfeeding are just doing it for the sexual charge they get out of it!" Or "Christianity is ignorant and racist." Because you so closely identify yourself with that, you are going to take it personally.

And when college grads say, "I can say we're snobs because I am one." Hmph. That's like saying, "I can make fun of women/blacks/fill-in-the-picked-on-group because I am one."

No, fun-making when it's a slight is still a slight. It's still stereotyping. It's still ungracious.


Two Kinds of People (Camille)

I still think there are two kinds of people in the world:

  • People who finished a college degree.
  • People who can't stop talking about how they don't need a college degree.

Their over-protestation proves that they do feel like they need to prove something. They do feel the lack, but they don't have the awareness or courage to say the obvious.


The First Thing I Learned in College (Kristen)

I went to college prepared. I had spent several weeks on campus in high school for various camps and conferences and I knew my way around. Heck, I had even stayed in the same dorm, on the same floor before. I wasn't going to be one of those freshman that walked around with a map looking clueless, I was going to blend in and be cool.

It took approximately 14 hours for the coolness to wear off.

I was humbled by my roommate, a cosmopolitan New Yorker who referred to me on the phone as "the crazy Christian roommate -- one of those evangelical types." I was humbled by my sophomore suitemates, kicking off the first day back with a thumpin' party. I was humbled by food, trying to figure out how I was going to survive on an average of 1 all-you-can-eat meal a day.

I decided that in the interest of finding likeminded friends and getting some free food to augment my pitiful meal plan, I'd attend every single kick-off and freshman welcome for every single Christian group on campus. Finally, an intelligent decision.

I made an older friend in InterVarsity, a junior, a small group leader that lived on my floor in the mostly freshman dorm. I learned that someone older and wiser and better acquainted with how everything works can be pretty helpful to have around.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Homegrown Tomatoes (Camille)

My husband insists, "Sure -- you can understand why someone wouldn't want to go to college!"

No. I really can't. Anymore than I can understand why someone wouldn't like homegrown tomatoes. How can anyone NOT enjoy that wonderful demonstration of summer?

I know people don't like school just like I know people that don't like homegrown tomatoes. But I don't understand.

first thing I learned in college (Camille)

It was just me. Only me. I had to register. I had to find my seat. I had to get to class. I had to get up. I had to write that LONG paper.

When my parents dropped me off for that first Dean of Women rules meeting, I walked into the chilly auditorium and listened to the details of what was expected of me. And I burst into tears. What had I done? I could never do this. It was all my responsibility.

the first thing I learned in college in the olden days (Karen)

What was the first thing I learned in college? That not everyone in the world is just like me!

I grew up as an only child and had never had that sibling thing experience. Boy was I in for a surprise! The first day, while unpacking and making my bed, in walked my roommate. She promptly looked in our shared closet and said “Oh, this is great! We wear the same size. We can share all our clothes!”

Needless to say, I was really taken aback. I mean, I had worked hard all summer to buy some new clothes and had carefully shopped and chosen just the right things that would mix and match and make my college wardrobe turn heads. (This, of course, is as opposed to my senior year when my two roommates and I did laundry every other week and once lost our iron and a typewriter, which is an ancient writing tool for those who are under 30, somewhere in the living room of our apartment!)

A few days later, I sat in my first class at a small Christian liberal arts college and looked around the room, wondering what I had gotten myself into. There were people who didn’t look at all like me. For the first time in my life, I experienced multi-cultural living with every race represented. Since this was the early 70’s the clothing and hairstyles were a sight to behold…everything from sandals in the snow to Afros that expanded the head by 18 inches! And to top it off, my professor was from China and still had a thick accent so I needed to strain to understand every word he was saying. We weren’t in Kansas anymore, Todo.

As the first few weeks went by, I was exposed to Christians who had a variety of views about living a Christian life while still maintaining the basic tenets of the Christian faith. My eyes were quickly opened to the fact that not everyone had come from a small Baptist church in the middle of the Midwest. It was the best of times, the worst of times.

However, what I quickly learned, the first item on my personal syllabus, was that college is a place to meet people who are not like you and you are glad that that is true. It is a place where the great ideas of life, of history, are debated and honed. As a Christian, I believe these things ought to be discussed and addressed from a Biblical worldview, of course, but that is for another blog entry.

Oh, and after a couple weeks, my own wardrobe doubled in size as my roommate shared her clothes with me!

The First Thing I Learned in College (Mollie)

The first thing I learned when I bobbed my hair and went off to college was that I cannot possibly know everything on my own. As an avid reader and asker of questions, if I had thought about it, I would have probably said that on my own I could learn, for the most part, whatever I wanted to learn. I could walk to the library and fill my basket with books on any subject of interest and absorb facts and knowledge and I would be "educated." Because I am blessed with a thinking mind and a curious nature, self-education should be the best path for me to travel.

So I take my silly school-girl self down to school and quickly realize that education is not the absorption of facts and knowledge. Being educated has nothing to do with learning how to do new things fundamentally. It's all about learning how to think. It's all about taking those facts and that knowledge and using them to live in this world in which we've been placed. Certainly, a great deal of knowledge can be attained through individual study. But learning what to do with that knowledge and how to function with other people cannot be done holed up in a room somewhere reading library books and internet journals. To think so is immature and cocky.

In summation, college can enhance your life in ways that simply cannot come without attending an academic institution of higher learning.

Practically, education is about bettering this world. It's about reaching out to everyone around us with helping hands and words. It's about bettering yourself so that whatever job you take, whether it be that of a homekeeper or that of a college professor, you will be best able to accomplish the task at hand.