Sunday, October 9, 2011

Worthy Pursuits

I wrote yesterday about education.  It is a highly valued commodity in our country.  If there is any doubt, all one needs to do is ask an adult without a college degree.  Like money, those who have it say it is just paper.  Those who do not have a greater appreciation for its importance in getting around in modern society. 

I am torn about it, though.  I can’t in good conscience deny the benefits to a good education, but I struggle when education becomes all-consuming.  I suppose that is true with anything; anything that is good can destroy when it becomes an idol.

I own and run a small homeschool support and enrichment organization that is currently gasping its last breaths.  I have talked with members who are attending fewer and fewer activities to discover why interest in the organization is waning. 

What I understand is that KidsROCK (the name of my homeschooling group) is too much about fun and get-togethers.  Parents say that as children grow, time is more precious and it can’t be wasted on activities that aren’t ‘transcript-approved.’  Even among those families who don’t heavily document or aren’t quite ready to worry about official transcripts seem to have adopted the same mentality.  If it doesn’t fulfill a checkbox requirement, the time can’t be afforded.

In the classes, tours and events we offer, more than academics are covered.  I look at the activities planned and see the less-easily-quantified-but-at-least-as-important elements of development being offered, like character, leadership, discernment and the importance of relationships.  But these things aren’t even on the Charter schools’ radars.  As a result, they don’t matter.

The loss grieves my heart.

Looking past that, I have just this year been able to witness two ladies my age sacrifice nearly all they have in order to achieve the highest academic achievement: a PhD.  One friend let her marriage go.  She pursued this goal of success to the exclusion of all else.  Did I mention my heart grieving?

Another lady has just begun her own journey on the same path.  She is finishing up her undergraduate requirements and will then transfer to gain all she needs to get her own PhD.  She is a homeschooling mother and, from my perspective, has already lost most of her time for family and friends to research and writing papers. 

I have to ask why.  I just don’t understand.  I realize that education is not wrong.  My own husband wants to go back to school and I want that for him with all my heart.  But not enough to allow him to leave me!  Not enough for him to become a stranger to his children!  Is it really worth it?  What if this woman gets her PhD?  Then what?  She goes to work so that she can earn a PhD-level salary, which she’ll need to pay off the student loans?  Where do her kids come into play, I wonder?  Her marriage?  Her forgotten friends?  And all in the name of education and success.

I don’t think anyone intends to sacrifice relationships when they first decide to pursue a time consuming goal.  In fact, I am sure most people weigh the options and decide as a team that relationships will surely survive some lean years.  But we are so often proverbial frogs in a pot, unaware of the rising temperature until it is too late.

Sometimes this world confuses me beyond measure…And my heart grieves.

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