It is cool to be a smart mom, and I hope I am one. So I’ve been trying to figure out precisely how to explain why I found the following quote â€œI think it would be cool to both be smart and be a momâ€”to be a smart momâ€ so disturbing in the context of The New Era article “Seek Learning.” Bull has posted the article here and the youth follow-up quotes here.
There’s another point completely separate from the bizarre sexist doublespeak of the article that says (on the surface) that girls’ education is as important as boys’ and says the opposite between the lines. Of course it’s cool to be a smart mom, but that’s not the point of getting an education — it’s a side effect at best.
Thinking about this point, it hit me that — as far as this article is concerned — the only purpose for your education is to advance your career. Thus, if the career you’re supposed to be shooting for is SAHM, they have to explain why an advanced degree is relevant. Now I’m enough of a realist to understand that an education represents such a huge investment in time and money that for most people the corresponding earning potential is a major (even primary) concern. But what about the value — and joy — of seeking knowledge for its own sake because you’re interested in what you’re learning?
Here’s a recent example from my house. Nico has done a series of drawings illustrating the bone structure of different animals. I didn’t ask him to do it or even suggest it to him, but the drawings contrasting bat wings with pteranodon wings were partially inspired by the fact that I’d gotten out a bat book and showed Nico this contrast when he was showing me some of his pteranodon images and toys. Of course I was pleased with the drawings and found them cool, but I wasn’t thinking “Ah, good, that Biology I studied is finally good for something.” (As one might imagine from another of the youth quotes: â€œIf my future wife knew how to rear our children well, teach them things that they need to know for school, and help them out, I think that would be great.â€) It’s more like we’re all stuck in the house together on weekends, so we end up talking about subjects of mutual interest.Â Kids pick up on the things that their parents value and enjoy, and often end up with similar interests as a consequence.
It seems like Mormons generally place a high value on education in terms of success and achievement, but for its own sake it’s a little suspect. Enjoying it too much might lead to becoming a so-called intellectual…