It was such a beautiful day outside I said to Rich, "Say! Let’s ditch this novel writing gig and do something spunky! I have Autumn fever!" And Rich replied, "What did you have in mind?" That was when Mary, kind of contrary and a bit of hussy to boot, came to mind;I remembered that she had her husband dressed up as a ballerina on her site a couple days ago. I said, "Let’s play Hogwarts! You be Albus Dumbledore and I’ll be Luna Lovegood and we’ll fight off the Dementors and then we’ll fly off on the Thestrals…" Finally, I got him out of his downstairs office and away from that incessant Nano nonsense.
Actually, he had to do that professor thing that he does yesterday. Because he teaches at two different universities once or twice a year he has to get all done up for some graduation or convocation activity and I love it when he does. I’ve mentioned here before that he’s either dressed to the nines for some fly-away business meeting or grunting around in sweats and schwag* t-shirts. He dressed nicely on our first date, I’ll give him that, but usually I only see him spiffed up as he’s ducking into a Metro car to leave. And, to be honest, I most often dress for comfort over style , too.
Anyway, Rich is particularly fond of his doctoral robe and hood because the robe belonged to his maternal grandfather who earned his PhD in mathematics at Cornell University. It is a thing of beauty, with incredible detail and stitching. The hood is from Michigan and clearly you can get a PhD in psychology here and still not quite understand the concept of the hood. (As an aside? This man wrote his dissertation in 6 weeks, start to finish. NOW do you understand why I will have to quit NaNo?)
All of this got me to thinking about education. In our family I have the most degrees (3) but none of them particularly educated me for either my work or my life.It was my field work and post grad fellowship in Infant Mental Health that actually got me up and running. I still aspire to a PhD in Natural Resources, a complete change of direction. It would be my retirement PhD and I’ll probably get to bring another ground breaking discrimination suit against U-M, this one on the basis of age. Can they refuse you if you have advancing dementia? That doesn’t seem right, does it?
My mother and step-father both have college educations and they were both teachers. One step-sister and both sisters have college educations. Betsy has the distinction of being the only PhD in my family of origin and I’m trying to remember now what color her hood was (Betsy?); she can be a real procrastinator but she managed to accomplish something the rest of us haven’t and I’m very proud of her. My brother came within a hair’s breadth of a degree in art and then went all 70s; he’s a gifted commercial artist without a degree.
My father went into the war in the Pacific when he was but a baby, came out, married and had three children before he was Daniel’s age- no college for him. He was a very successful "self-made" man rising in the ranks at Ford Motor’s tractor sales division and later becoming a small business owner who did well until the oil business burned the economy in Oklahoma. That was tough because he believed very strongly that if you just worked hard enough you could be successful and he certainly didn’t believe in public assistance in any form. Bankruptcy represented failure of Biblical proportions and he was an older person in a changing and youthful profession. We had our own version of Willy Loman in the family until he settled down to become a house husband, grandfather and master model ship builder while his wife and daughters worked. I’ve always admired that final adaptation he made as much as anything.
As far as the children go, Dan has a degree from U-M and is getting started on a Masters although it’s not clear yet how formal education and being a musician fit together. Anna, my stepdaughter, has actually gone to college in a field where she can use it- child development and early education. Melissa, my other stepdaughter, has an associates degree but she’s still at that point where she’s trying to find her direction. And Abby? She’s having an absolute blast at college. She loves the acquisition of knowledge in and of itself; with that girl the medium always IS the massage. And she’s living near the water which works out well for amphibians. She’s rumbling about law school and environmental policy.
So what role does education play in your immediate and extended family history? Is formal education all it’s cracked up to be or have you succeeded without it or in spite of it? I know you have some good stories. Let’s hear them. Comment or post and link!
*schwag: (Wikipedia) A slang term for promotional items, usually given away for free.
Speaking of education, my most favorite teacher wrote one of her best ever pieces the other day. I live in stark terror that Mamacita is going to come over here and leave red marks and checks all over my blog, especially with my penchant for bad punctuation. This will take you to one of the smartest and funniest reads you’ll find this month- and it will make you thankful anew that we have good teachers out there like Jane and Mary and Margaret and Bonnie and all the others in our b**g neighborhood. Now that I think about it, I do hang with a lot of very fine teacher bloggers…
Yes, yes. Baby fix time. Do you know anyone who has ever had a new baby at Halloween that didn’t dress them up? I don’t. But Alexis was only home that very day so her daddy, who is a google-y eyed mess over this girl, found this left over outfit half price when he made his first diaper run out into the world. Little pumpkin, indeed. I ask you- does this look like a week old baby? Happy 1 week to you, little girl!