Thursday, May 6, 2010

Further Musings on this Education thing

I haven't much time for anything really deep today. I've got to pick up my sons tux at the cleaners, then meet up with Cam and the rest of his make-up/wardrobe team to (hopefully) pick up the rest of the costumes for next week. But, I have been talking to my family, and thinking more on this topic, so I thought I'd quickly throw some more thoughts out there.

I had a chance to share my frustration with my dad (BYU English Prof), and he was able to say that he's sure the Sociology Department does track marital and family stats of the student population. How they use it, and whether or not the college is panicked about the dropping marriage rate, we don't know. I asked him if he could look into that a bit for me, if he had time. He's teaching this term, though, so I don't know if that will go anywhere. I may have to look into it myself once my life calms a bit more.

I have partially read the cover article, and a few others. There are some redeeming qualities in that article. But some of it is about what you'd expect. Note that they are asking for submissions from alumni telling their own story about how they use their BYU education. Dad suggested I write something for them. I told him that could take me a while, if I wanted it to be positive and polite. He said that was up to me. Maybe they need to know how irritated I am. But I can't come across as bitter, or it won't have the desired impact. I'm considering it.

I liked the article on religious tolerance. One of my dad's friends, and a favorite prof of mine, Jim Faulconer, is heavily quoted in the article. I must confess, though, that the tag on the cover, "teaching kids tolerance" did not suggest to me it would be about religious tolerance. I thought that was a given in our society. (Did my parents raise me weird? I thought not.)

Anywho - further thoughts on the matter:
Maybe, just maybe, we need to take a look at how many of the students are still married 5 or 10 years down the road. Add to that the fact that the average marriage age is rising, even in the Mormon culture. It's not a bad thing to be a little older, know a little better who you are, and what you want from life, before you tie the knot. If we are waiting longer to get married in the first place, maybe we are making better marriages. One would hope so. The supposed fact that fewer BYU undergrads are marrying may not tell the whole story. (I'm sorry - I really need to find my sources here. I promise, after the play, I'll go crazy looking into this. I need to know what is really going on with that place.)
And, just a suggestion here, perhaps a better approach would be to teach our kids that smart is a good thing. That "looks", so highly thought of in today's world, will fade, quicker than we'd like. The mind, unless it has the misfortune of becoming diseased, does not fade quite so quickly. We have this idea of what a happy couple "looks" like. But ask yourself how much of a relationship you would have with your spouse if you can't talk about stuff. And, I mean, stuff besides laundry and the kids and what to have for dinner.
I read a lot. I grew up reading a lot. I like it when I can slip in a reference to something, and have my friend or my kids get the joke, know where I got the quote, and why it's funny/related to the situation. "Smart" is not a liability in a marriage. (This works both ways, folks. My friend's oldest is a boy, and he's a cheerleader at his high school. He's a smart kid, I've always thought, even though his grades don't reflect that (the public school system just doesn't work for everyone - but that's another topic for another day).)

A totally unrelated idea: are the "smart" ones just not "happy" enough? It was years before I adopted my much sunnier outlook on life. I come from Norwegian stock. As in, this IS my happy face. Or was. Compared to my younger years, I smile so much more, and try harder to think the best of folks, which makes life seem much happier overall. There is always a positive way to look at things, if you look hard enough.

I know this is disjointed and scattered. But I've got to run. If you don't have a copy, and want to read the magazine, they have it available online here.

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