Higher education for girls
|Montessori school, 1917|
No education is ever wasted.
However I have read many blogs that do not support this. One of biggest reasons is the debt that young women accumulate once they finish university (college) and the other reason is “why do young women need a university degree if they become a SAHMs”.
Firstly, the system of higher education in Australia is very different to the USA. It is cheaper and many parents can afford to pay the cost of their children’s university up front or the student can take out a student loan which they defer paying until they start work. However they do not start paying the debt until their income reaches a certain level. If they are not in the workforce they are not expected to pay the debt at that time. This makes gaining a higher education degree considerably easier in Australia and for women who choose to remain at home they aren’t faced with paying the debts whilst they aren’t working.
I come from a family that values higher education and has done for many years. Therefore it isn’t surprising that I fully support higher education for girls. My grandfather (born 1891) understood the importances of higher education long before it became popular for young women to attend university. As a result, he encouraged his daughters to go off and study at university along with his two sons. My grandfather was no modern feminist, quite the opposite, rather he was a very serious man (an industrial chemist) who dearly loved the Lord and that could be seen in all aspects of his life. His wife (Jane), the young lady in the photo above (born 1891) was a qualified Montessori teacher and even though she gave up teaching when she married my grandfather, she passed on her love of learning to her sons and daughters and they in turn have passed that love of knowledge to my generation.
There are many options for both men and women when it comes to higher education. Your daughter may be interested in nursing, teaching, accountancy, music, law, languages, history. All of these are useful in everyday life and if necessary can be used to run a small business from home.
Education does not need to be seen as a way of obtaining a high powered career, but rather a way to extending our knowledge (in a particular field e.g. nursing or teaching) and growing our love of learning. Why should a woman who is planning to stay at home be deny that learning. She will one day have children and teach those children. We need educated mothers so we have educated children.
For those women who marry late in life or never marry, such as my aunt, a university degree can be very useful. My aunt worked for many years as a physiotherapist and university lecturer thanks to her higher education. My great-aunt (born 1888) had a Masters of Arts and lectured at the university and tutored students (she never married). I know many disagree with this, but a woman widowed does need to be able to support herself and her family if her husband doesn’t have a large enough superannuation fund or doesn’t wish to rely on welfare. God gives us the gifts and skills we need and we shouldn’t waste them and the answer to prayer maybe a job.
Some argue that going to university means daughters aren’t learning about domestic homemaking. I would argue that this is a skill that should be taught continuously from a early age and not as an exclusive lesson on its own. These are life skills and by the time a young woman or man reaches their late teens they should have a solid understand of domestic duties. My mother never taught me domestic training as a lesson - I learnt working beside her as I grew up, so did my brothers. When we all left home, running a household was second nature.
The other argument is the issue of allowing young women to “mix” with worldly people at university. Yes, quite right, your son or daughter will have to be able to talk to and deal with the pressures of university life and all its temptations (and there is far more today than in the past). We cannot lock up our daughters as prisoners forever, at some stage they will have to mingle with those unlike themselves and fall back on all that you have taught them. Studying via correspondences (Open University in Australia) is one way around this.
I went to university as did my brothers. Not being a academic student I didn’t start university until I was 20. In fact I studied via correspondences (completing a Degree in Sociology) whilst raising my eldest son. As a baby, he use to lie across my lap as I wrote assignments sitting on the floor at the coffee table (this was before home computers!). I read many assignments out loud to him, perhaps that is why he slept so well.
Whilst higher education is important, it doesn’t need to be a degree, maybe a certificate course or two at a local community college (home economics, community care, older aged nursing, nutrition, community nursing, IT, graphic design, sewing to name a few). These are often far more practical courses and perfect for any young woman who wishes to remain at home once married. They could complete a number of these courses and all would be useful later in life.
But never look at higher education as a waste of time or money when it comes to your daughters. They aren’t second-class citizens and remember they are the ones teaching the next generation.