Some of you know me well enough to know that I don't plan to go to college, others may have guessed, and the rest are hearing this for the first time. I'm very open about that fact and am comfortable with my decision. However, a lot of people don't understand, they struggle to grasp the reasoning behind this – my – thought processes of being a stay-at-home mom.
Just the other day, a young man told me, "It's none of my business, but I think you're really intelligent and I think you're doing yourself a disservice by not pursuing higher education."
Is he right? I've thought about his comment a lot. Oftentimes, when we're taught something from a very young age, we unconsciously lose the ability to think about it (and related subjects) objectively. I see it a lot both in society and homeschool circles. Knowing this, in order to be as objective as possible, it's important to start from the very beginning, back so far you're not sure you've ever been there before.
First of all, what gives our lives worth (notice I refrain from placing the worth directly on the individual as in most society, human life is automatically assumed to be "worth" something)? Some of the most common answers would be, religion, family, money, career, public service, and scholastic achievements. The question is then, why do we believe that these things give our lives worth? I believe I can safely divide the list into two categories.
*Scholastic Achievements *Religion
*Money (and/or Possessions) *Public Service
I think, herein lies the secret. It seems that society takes up the list on the left while Christian/homeschool circles wholeheartedly embrace the one on the right. At the root, this is where we differ... where I differ from the aforementioned young man.
In his eyes, if one does not spend hours upon hours writing papers, listening to lectures, and eventually gaining a piece of paper that says they've done so, than their life is somehow worth less than someone who does. Gaining knowledge through a structured system from an (oftentimes) biased set of people is an appropriate and possibly the only way to improve and apply oneself in order to become successful. Because, without scholastic achievements, one cannot get a worthwhile career, which in turn prevents one from earning large amounts of money. And in today's society, money and happiness are often thought to go hand in hand... you cannot have one without the other.
On the flipside (see the list on the right), religious (specifically Christian/homeschool) groups believe that true worth comes from servanthood. In the form of religion, you must recognize your overall significance (or insignificance) in relation to the bigger picture due to a higher power. With family, one must oftentimes sacrifice self in order to maintain healthy relationships with those one is related to (which includes choosing them over personal needs or desires). Finally, some people even add public service to this, which comes as a way to reach out even further to those who may not be receiving adequate amounts of personal care and love. This public service is not in lieu of but in addition to the others, coming alongside religion and family.
For the sake of clarity and brevity, I will stop there, though there are many more points that could be added to both sides of the argument.
These two trains of thought both have pros and cons, and I believe a healthy balance is important. I will readily clarify that I do not have a problem with higher education, nor do I believe that it is wrong to go to college and get a degree. I believe that within the Will of God we are given significant freedom to make decisions based on our situations, tendencies, and position in life. However, at the same time, I do not believe that higher education is the answer to all of the problems we face now as a nation, especially as it is taught at community colleges and universities. What is the answer, then?
Each person must decide for themselves what they decide to make of their lives. What is most important to them? For some, it may be defending the rights of homeschoolers in court (HSLDA), becoming and RN or MD to heal people physically, or perhaps joining the military in order to preserve the rights and freedoms we still have in this country.
The first two examples require many years of schooling and can easily accrue large amount of debt. The third simply requires a highschool diploma but years of dedication and sacrifice. Are some life-decisions, namely concerning career paths, more earth shaking than others? I would venture to say, only in the eye of the beholder. Where would we be without doctors, to heal not only citizens but also our military members? Where would we be without military/law enforcement to keep us safe? And without lawyers, who would represent those hard-fought-for freedoms. Each one needs the other in order to be worth anything at all.
Now, I ask you. Who grows up to become lawyers, doctors, and soldiers? Children do... children are the very foundation of our country. As such, I find it very surprising that they are cast aside so frequently, left in daycare, enrolled in school, required to partake in sports, and left almost wholly without the loving guidance of their parents (the only people who truly care about the wellbeing of their child as an individual).
This, in turn, adds stay-at-home mother and wife to the list of important career choices. It is not any more or less important than other careers. It is equal, because without children raised with good morals and strong work ethics, who will become lawyers, doctors, and soldiers? And without those careers awaiting them, what are those children to set their sights on?
So, the statement, "It's none of my business, but I think you're really intelligent and I think you're doing yourself a disservice by not pursuing higher education," essentially contradicts itself. If I am believed to be an intelligent person, why do you automatically assume that I would purposefully make such an (obviously) stupid decision?
Each side can take steps to remedy this. If the asker truly wants his words to make a difference, the statement should be changed to, "I think you're a really intelligent person, but I don't quite understand a certain decision you've made. Would you mind explaining it to me?" However, if the question is not asked in such a way, that doesn't leave people like me without recourse. Perhaps we, as the rebel to the status quo, should reply, "Thank you so much for sharing your honest opinion with me, I truly appreciate your concern. I would love to explain the reasoning behind my decision if you are interested in listening." In doing so, perhaps the chasm between the two sides of society can be bridged, even just for a moment.
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree, or have additional thoughts to add?