A few hours later, I am still incensed at this narrow view.
I rushed to pull my copy of Lifelong Learning: A View from the Coal Face off the shelf. This book is based on a research paper I produced and in which, as research progressed, I changed the focus to examine how the then government initiatives contributed to the development of human potential and, more importantly, the whole person.
My ethos is that everyone should be able to develop their potential in whatever way that is. In this way that little cluster of cells, which even before we were born contained all our skills and attributes that make us what we are or could be, would be developed to release and realise our full potential.We would be fulfilled and empowered.
In researching the Education White Paper Learning to Succeed (Blunket.2000) I came across a quotation from Jefferson 250 years previously:
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation it expects what never was and never will be. . ."
Education should of course prepare one for life and gainful, fulfilling, employment but that is not to say that employment is mandatory for everyone; not when there are young children to be brought up. And what better person to nurture young children than a mother. Education can be put to good use in developing babies, pre-school, and school age children, in life. I speak from experience as I was a stay-at-home mother for many years. They were some of the best years of my life, albeit not in affluent circumstances as we cut our coat according to our cloth. I cooked, sewed, decorated, planned my garden using graph paper and pencil, and cleaned. Using pencil and paper - no calculators then - mental arithmetic, and long calculations I worked out the effects of the Chancellor's Annual Budget on our own budget etc. In all this I was teaching my children the wider aspects of life and skills in reading, writing, colours, numbers, nature, etc. I was home when my children came home from school. They could discuss their day, their upsets and joys. I had time for them. That was what we did. (I have to say that childcare wasn't available as widely then as now.We had no family nearby having moved to a new area for work.)
One of my earliest memories is of when one day, they tumbled off the school bus, trailed up the drive, the first one opened the door, sniffed the air . . .and then the message went down the line. "Mum's baking!" I was late in developing a career. That is how it was then. I was given development opportunities to undertake and with focus and family support, eventually began to release and realise my potential - but learning is lifelong.
Jan Van Comenius wrote in Pampaedia in 1609 " Every age is destined for learning, even life itself . . ." (in Longworthy & Davies 1998)
There will always be circumstances when a mother has to go out to work but for a professional to have the viewpoint that one has to 'pay back' for education and therefore must work is, in my view, a narrow and restrictive one. No learning is ever wasted.
Lifelong Learning: A View From the Coal Face.
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