Full Time Practice

Monday, September 2, 2013

Worthy of Education

(Written by Desiree Nordstrom, a WIL Committee member.)

I recently came across an article titled, “O, Alma Mater” written by Anne-Marie Maginnis, a Princeton educated, stay-at-home mother.  It spoke to me and as such, I would like to share some excerpts from it.  Ms. Maginnis states,
As it turns out, a sizeable debate is raging regarding the growing numbers of Ivy League graduates choosing to stay home and raise their children. Several recent articles have questioned the value of this choice. One such thought-provoking piece was written by Kelly Goff of the U.K. Guardian, entitled “Female Ivy League Graduates Have a Duty to Stay in the Workforce.”
In that article, author Kelly Goff argues,
That degree could have gone to a woman who does want to spend her entire life using it to advance the cause of women—or others in need of advancement—not simply advancing the lives of her own family at home, which is a noble cause, but not one requiring an elite degree.
Ms. Maginnis did not agree with the view that any female with a higher education must stay in the workforce, otherwise, that education is a wasted opportunity.  Ms. Maginnis continues her article with four points that are evidence that this logic is incorrect. 

First, the author points out that following such logic is “regressive for women.” She asks that if that conclusion is correct, at “what point is a woman not worth educating at all?” 

Ms. Maginnis’ second point explains that if one believes higher education is pointless for stay-at-home mothers, it “overlooks the fact that many stay-at-home mothers resume their careers after their children are in school.”  And even if these women do not re-enter the workforce, they “see something of equal or greater value in staying home to raise their children.”

The author’s third point explains that educated stay-at-home mothers are often able to use their knowledge and degree in service of society including fundraising, mentoring, volunteering, speaking and writing.  “And while it may appear that anyone can do these things, it is far more difficult for a working mother to add these into an already packed schedule than it is for a stay-at-home mother.”

Ms. Maginnis’ fourth and final point includes:
[T]he most meaningful way in which stay-at-home moms use their elite degrees is by raising their children to be well-educated, confident leaders of the next generation. When a mother with an Ivy League education stays home to raise children, she is making it her full-time job to invest the best that she has received, including her education, into these children. She is choosing to form a few people in a profound way, rather than to affect a broader audience with a smaller per-person investment.
These mothers are not sacrificing pay, prestige, and a stimulating career without good reason. They feel they are giving their children something they could not otherwise give if they were out of the house all day. This is not to denigrate mothers who cannot afford to stay home; they obviously serve their family, often at great personal sacrifice. Nor is it to criticize working mothers who choose to share their talent with the larger world. It is merely to point out that highly educated women who choose to stay home with their children have a unique contribution to make as well.
“[W]hen 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.” 

We would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  You can find the entire article here:  http://verilymag.com/feature/o-alma-mater/


  1. I loved this article when I found it online. Education is not worthwhile only if it leads to a paying job. Some people seem to have lost sight of the value of touching individual lives, whether that is through family responsibilities or individualized service. It's as if you aren't worth anything to the world unless you have fame and prestige, but I know that's simply not true. The people with the most fame and recognition often do the least to help individuals. You can change a few lives on a profound level or you can change a lot of lives very little. It's hard to change a lot of lives on a profound level though.

  2. This was a great synopsis of a very thought provoking article. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. “And while it may appear that anyone can do these things, it is far more difficult for a working mother to add these into an already packed schedule than it is for a stay-at-home mother.” I LOVE this point. As a working mother I absolutely cannot sacrifice time or focus reserved for my kids when the workday is done in order to pursue all of those great worthwhile things I could be doing with my education. I feel an obligation to serve and would LOVE to, but after work and family there is nothing left. Point is, highly educated stay at home mom's having something great to give that working mom's can't.