Cassie Shepherd

July 3, 2010

An Evolving Education

It has been a busy week back in Utah! It is nice to be back though. We're moving forward on our plans...yes! I love moving forward!

I started school again on Monday and met with my counselor to decide what to do about my schooling this fall. Currently, I am in enrolled in a math for elementary education course and an on-line child guidance class.

After meeting with my great advisor, I'm sad to say I had to put a hold on starting the Elementary Education program. It wasn't a hard decision because I knew it was the right one. However, that doesn't mean I'm not disappointed. I was really looking forward to it. I don't know what the next five years will bring and now I'm worried about finishing my bachelor's degree. Fortunately, I'll be locked into an AS degree with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education though. Whenever I do decide to finish - it'll be easier than trying to figure out generals again. Hopefully, no more math after this semester though! Woohoo! And just for those who are wondering - math for elementary school teachers is not easy! You'd think it would be because you don't teach much beyond division. However, wow, that is so wrong. At least I was wrong. There are so many methods to teach children based on how they learn. You're goal becomes to effectively teach it so every student can understand even if they learn differently than the majority of the class. The mathematical foundations taught from pre-school on is essential for understanding math. Even if I don't ever become a teacher in a classroom - I've learned the importance of properly teaching math at a young age so I hope I can help my children when they struggle. And not just teaching it - learning how they learn best and then teaching it. Math is so interdependent on every principal you learn. Anyway, I could go on for days about the importance of it and list all these ideas, but that'd probably get boring. So, moving on.

I'm taking a really interesting class on child guidance. I love it - I could go on forever about this too, but I'll keep it simple. A lot of my classes are intertwined with child development so I've really drawn a liking to studying about it. I feel it is really important to understand because, again, it is helping prepare me for my own family and raising my own kids. No wonder there are full degrees on the studies of family and children. You can't possibly learn it all in one book about parenting. Not even close.

I want to be a stay at home mom without a doubt. Perhaps it was how I was raised, but the desire for me to finish getting my degree is strong - even though I probably won't use it in the work force. Of course, it is a good back up if anything were to happen to Mitch as our provider. However, I feel strongly that a college education helps shape you in many ways and provides opportunities for growth, development, and progress. I don't think those who choose not to attend college can't obtain a similar education. I do think it is a lot harder without the structure though. College just might not be for some people, however, don't argue and say you obtained the same education, if not better, without trying it. There is something about the discipline that you're forced to learn in school. I also think it is just a different experience - one that can't be achieved without going. A college education is broad and yet, eventually, specific. Its hard to find that on your own. That is just my opinion, but I have formed it during the times that I have been absent from attending classes. Regardless of the desire to learn being completed while attending college - obtaining a degree does offer a stability in the community, which, now, is essential for success (with a few exceptions).

I'm often asked, "why are you finishing school and getting a degree if you're never going to use it?" Meaning - working - I'll never be "working" in the business world if I choose to stay at home with my children. Sometimes I ask myself that same question! There is so much time and effort involved and frankly it would be a lot easier to just work now and earn money for our future family! When am I ever going to use the studies of philosophy?! It may seem that I could just read some books on the sidelines and be content. Plus, lets face it, my course of education in the career world isn't the most high paying. So, sometimes I have a hard time answering that question. I just always knew it was the right thing - even though I couldn't explain it. Well, the other day I had an epiphany! In one of my classes, I was reading some quotes that supported the church's stand on families and specifically "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I came across this quote by Henry B. Erying that can be connected to the Proclamation by preparing not to be an exception to it's ideals.
"It takes courage and faith to plan for what God holds before you as the ideal rather than what might be forced upon you by circumstances.
Conversely, there are important ways in which planning for failure can make failure more likely and the ideal less so. Consider these twin commandments as an example: “Fathers are to ... provide the necessities of life ... for their families” and “mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” Knowing how hard that might be, a young man might choose a career on the basis of how much money he could make, even if it meant he couldn’t be home enough to be an equal partner. By doing that, he has already decided he cannot hope to do what would be best. A young woman might prepare for a career incompatible with being primarily responsible for the nurture of her children because of the possibilities of not marrying, of not having children, or of being left alone to provide for them herself. Or she might fail to focus her education on the gospel and the useful knowledge of the world that nurturing a family would require, not realizing that the highest and best use she could make of her talents and her education would be in her home. Consequently, because a young man and woman had planned thus, they might make what is best for a family less likely to be obtained."
This is from the February 1998 issue of the Ensign. Entitled "The Family."

This explains it perfectly for me! The line that says, "...she might fail to focus her education on the gospel and the useful knowledge of the world that nurturing a family would require, not realizing that the highest and best use she could make of her talents and her education would be in her home." Why does it have to be about simply getting a degree to make money? The effort put to getting an education (primarily speaking to women here) is for your families! I knew this - I just couldn't word it right. I thought of every woman that I knew that had a degree in some kind of area. For example, my sister, Mary, has a degree in History - a master's none the less. I'll confess, I've thought, "what in the world can you do with a history degree besides maybe work in a library or teach it?" Well, exactly that, she has become such an excellent teacher - not just in her career (which, is all done out of her home so she can still be a stay at home mom) but to her children! I could go even more in detail, but I'll leave it at that. My degree falls in an obvious way to connect to family. However, I couldn't think of a degree that wouldn't have some kind of connection. If all else fails - subject wise - the structure, discipline, and hard work taught in obtaining a college education could only help a family be more stable - I would think. 

I must make note here - I do not intend to down play those who haven't chosen this path or judge them in a negatively way. Everyone's situation is different - their desires, their goals, and their expectations. So, please, even though I have a strong opinion on this, it is not my intention to judge. There are so many great mothers and families out there that this hasn't been their route. This includes my own mother! :)

My plan for finishing with a bachelor's degree hasn't yet fully evolved now. However, the first step - desire - is there. I'm hoping it can help drive me to finishing when it may even be more difficult. I'm sure Mitch and I will have kids by the time he is out of school or, if not, right after. I know it is going to be harder to finish then so I ask myself,  will I want to finish? Will being with my kids all day change that desire? Am I going to feel guilty leaving them to go to class? Will I have the energy? The time?

Meanwhile, while I'm supporting Mitch through school, I have to not let my brain rot. My goals are to continue to be an avid reader and structure my learning somewhat similar to those found that I've found in effective in my school work - like taking notes, reviewing, and studying beyond just reading something once through. I try to mark all my books and put notes at the top of some pages so that later I'll be able to reference it again when I need it. I can't remember everything I read, but I know if I put it in there - it can be found again! Sometimes we just need a little trigger.

Ultimately, I still feel like we've made the right decisions and we're on the right track. Perhaps, this was all the college education needed for me to understand the importance of it. I know that I want to help influence my children to earn a college education and I believe that can begin when they're even as tiny as infants. I'd like to finish and that is my intention, but we'll see how things go.

Mitch has always been such a wonderful support while I've been in school. I did not know what I wanted to do but he really helped me find my passions in children and education by just being there. He makes me feel like a better person and I'm so excited we will one day have a family together. I'm so blessed to have him and his love!

Only time will tell what opportunities lie ahead for us.

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