A Dutch politician is advocating for penalizing women who choose to stay home with children after going to college (which is paid for by the government). “You enjoy an expensive education, paid for by society, and you cannot throw away this knowledge without a penalty.” I know that KathyJo is right there with her on this — why learn anything at all if you’re not going to use it in the workforce? (I just had to throw that in after reading some of her recent posts). 🙂
What worries me is that I see this crazy mentality slipping into our own culture, slowly but surely. A friend of mine who received an expensive education at a top private university got married and became a housewife the year after she graduated. Evidently it did not go over well at all with her friends, their reactions ranging from confusion to open hostility that she would “throw away” her expensive education.
It reminds me of back when I worked at a high tech company right after college. I had a cool title and made good money for my age so I seemed to have society’s approval that I was putting my education to use. Everyone applauded the track that my life was on. But really, I did absolutely nothing to contribute to society. I worked all the time so I didn’t have much of a life outside of work, unless you count Friday happy hours with coworkers. I sat in a cubicle all day. When I wasn’t on conference calls or writing reports that nobody read or surfing the web I would occasionally write some code that would help the marketing department pull information about our company’s clients from a database. But I was putting my education to use because I had my very own cubicle…and a paycheck!
Now that I’m a housewife and mom I spend every bit of free time I can squeeze out of my day reading about Catholic theology, history, world religions and politics. I’m often called upon by my working friends to share what I’ve learned over lunch or coffee since they don’t have the time or the mental bandwidth to read those sorts of subjects themselves. If I don’t homeschool my children I will at least be very involved in their education, taking them to museums, putting together fun physics experiments and reading classic literature together. I am working on getting involved in my parish, perhaps using the writing experience I gained in college to put together some literature for them. I also run the family finances, including printing monthly budget and investment reports from Quicken to go over with my husband.
But according to a lot of people in the world, I am “throwing away” my education, unlike back in the day when I had that glamorous (*cough* *snort*) high tech job. (I ran into an old acquaintance from my working days at a wedding last year and he half-jokingly asked what it was like not to ever have to use my brain now that I’m not working.)
I hope that one of these days the people in our society will wake up and remember that the original purpose of a university education was not to get a better job. I hope that the concept of higher learning for the sake of itself, learning about the world and its people and its history just because, has not been totally lost.
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