Princeton alum Anne-Marie Maginnis uses her considerable literary skills to review the state of the debate currently raging regarding the decision on the part of some highly educated women to stay home and raise their children. She takes strong exception to the sentiment expressed by some that such women are wasting their hard-earned degrees by taking on such a menial task.
If a woman at home doesn’t need an elite degree, as Goff argues, one wonders, does she need a college degree? A high-school degree? At what point is a woman not worth educating at all?
This perspective completely disregards the inherent worthiness of educating a human mind to know the world, to think independently, to judge accurately, and to live confidently. For these reasons alone, an elite education should be available to the best and brightest minds. To concede Goff’s point would be to reverse hundreds of years of progress in women’s rights.
When a highly educated woman is home with her children day in and day out, she weaves the riches of her education into their lives in continuous, subtle, living ways. This is a priceless preparation for a lifetime of learning. This gift is the transmission of culture.
Having received the wonderful gift of an elite education, I didn’t leave it behind. I carry it with me in who I am today. It enriches my life in ways that no salary can measure. It is worthwhile in a way no measure of productivity is needed to justify. Passing on this education to my daughter, a human being whose worth I know intimately, I see even more clearly that broadening a girl’s mind, filling it with beauty, is never, to quote Goff, “a wasted opportunity.”
During the almost two decades I spent working in the corporate world, I encountered several women who fit this description. All were well educated, bright, ambitious, outstanding leaders and managers. In their careers, the sky was the limit. But they all walked away from it for one reason: their kids. Some became part time lecturers at a local university; some did a little freelance consulting; others became fulltime moms to their children. In every case, a conscious decision was made based on a conviction that their children were more important than their careers.
Their critics, who apparently value money and power above people, would do well to sit down with some of these women and learn what they value.
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