Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Effect of an Educated Parent

Back in my college speech class, there was a young woman who told me she was in college to be a better mother. She surprised me because I had never before encountered someone who didn't aspire to a career although I was aware of those who attended college to become a Mrs.

My classmate explained that an educated woman is a better mother because she's been exposed to more subjects at deeper levels with a wider world view than offered by high schools. She figured that by having a college degree, she'll give her children a better foundation than other mothers who didn't go to college and those women who do go to college but who aren't full-time mothers.

The wonderful biopic, "Temple Grandin" on HBO, brought this home to me this past week. There's a brief scene in which a doctor dispenses the typical advice for autistic children of that time - to place Temple in an institution which time has proved would have robbed us of a valuable member of society had Eustacia, Temple's mother, acquiesced.

What the movie doesn't show is the fierce battle Eustacia had to keep Temple out of an institution as Temple's father insisted on following the doctor's recommendation, a battle that led to the break-up of their marriage.

Was it Eustacia's Ivy League college education that made her recognize that Temple could be taught to make her own way in the world or was it a mother's deep-seated instinct and belief in her child? I wish the movie had enough to give me a lead.

I thought about friends and acquaintances who attended and didn't attend college and have only one conclusion: whether a person is self-taught or formally educated, an education is never wasted.

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