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wundayatta's avatar

How were you raised to think about education?

Asked by wundayatta (58326 points ) September 24th, 2012

What was the message your parents gave you about education? Does it have a very specific purpose, or is it more generalized? Is it entertainment? What kinds of things is it supposed to teach you? How much of it are you entitled to? Or how much did they feel obligated to provide for you?

Please also include information about your parent’s cultural influences.

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22 Answers

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

My parents were very helpful. They taught us that it was the most important thing in the world. The house was always filled with books and my mother read to us nightly when we were young. My dad, especially, stressed education. The GI Bill saved him and us from a life of poverty. He was pretty strict about homework, but always very helpful. They made a lot of sacrifices to keep us in private schools and I will always be thankful to them for that. There was never any question that we would all (seven kids) attend college and twelve years of private schools and tutoring made that much easier for all of us.

DrBill's avatar

no encouragement at all. they thought HS was enough for anyone, and everyone should go from HS to a factory and spend their life there. I had to pay for my own education.

JLeslie's avatar

My grandma always told me education is never a waste and that it is good to always keep learning. It was not so much go to school to get a job, but go to school to learn, to be educated.

My dad looked at higher education as a given; I was expected to go to colege. He did think it was important to think about what degree/career could make money. As far as school in general, he believed in the love of learning, wanting to seek knowledge.

My mom hated school, but she thought it important to go to school. A mixed message in a way.

There was an overall message in my family that education expanded the mind amd was a part of our culture. Being worldly, open, and curious was important. Being smart was/is admired.

My parents paid for my college education. It was important to me to marry someone who would expect to pay for the college education of our future children. My dad went to school for free (his family was extremely poor) and he tends to lean towards free and inexpensive quality education for the poor, those who are very academically inclined with great potential. My mom thinks college for everyone is ridiculous and some of the colleges that she would say are not worth much of anything are a waste in her mind. But, even she would support free education for those with great potential who prove themselves.

zenvelo's avatar

My parents were the first in their families to go to a college or university. My mother, despite being a child of Mexican immigrants (they came to the US in 1914), was raised to expect to go to college, even during the Depression. Same with my father whose parents came to the US from Scotland in 1921.

There was never a question of my siblings and I going to college. It was considered the only way to be a well rounded person, exposed to all that is important in a civilized society, and educated to take one’s place.

jerv's avatar

I was raised to think that education is the building blocks upon which true understanding is based, but that education is a means to an end rather than an end into itself. It isn’t there to answer questions so much as allow you to ask the right questions and answer them yourself.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

That it’s a must, that one must pursue it with a great work ethic, that one must accomplish it rather independently of others (aka, you do homework by yourself, all mistakes are yours, no adult will tell you answers, etc), that it’s important for its own sake (and not as a means to an end). I hold all these views and pass the same on to my children.

Nullo's avatar

I was raised to appreciate it. I think that the loudest message was that higher education is a must for a good job. But education filled my life, growing up. A trip to San Francisco wasn’t complete without stopping by the Academy of Sciences to see what was new, and even now we don’t visit Chicago without checking out at least one museum. Growing up, my sister and I would visit the library a couple of times per week and come home with a respectable pile of Reading Rainbow, Bill Nye, nature documentaries, and books that weren’t always fiction (I was particularly interested in World War II, bugs, submarines, and rockets). My computer games included gems such as Math Blaster and Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? and the special anniversary edition of Oregon Trail. Boy Scouts and church were very much about learning, and I’d attend them once and twice a week, respectively.

I had the value of education impressed upon me in a real sense early on, when I was trying to communicate in a world that only spoke Italian. I could almost watch things start to make sense as I memorized words and adjusted my syntax and grammar-hammered my new phrases together.

I always studied diligently and tried to do well in school. I wrote the papers, I read the books, I participated in class. And I graduated with honors.

Then I get out into the adult world and none of the good employers care because the can get masters grads who can’t land jobs in their fields, and the bad ones are staffed with people who can’t appreciate a word with more than three syllables, regardless of how well it fits the situation. It’s depressing.

augustlan's avatar

I wasn’t, really. I heard all the pie-in-the-sky platitudes like, “You can be whatever you want”, but given no advice whatsoever on how to get there. College was pretty much out of the question in my mother’s eyes, so in mine, too. We were very poor, and knew nothing about student loans or grants (no one in our family had ever gone to college at all). That said, reading was very important in our home. Being smart was valued, but seemed inherent and practically unrelated to education. I dropped out of high school in my senior year, so… yeah.

I’ve raised my own children differently. In elementary school, they were allowed a short break after school, for a snack and a little down time, then had to move right on to their homework. We were happy to help them figure it out, but would never do it for them. College is a given, there was never an “if” in there. High school was never thought of as the end. Identifying their interests and abilities and encouraging them to pursue them educationally has always been a part of our lives. Grades are important, but effort even more so. The oldest is now the first person in my family to attend college, and her sisters will follow shortly.

_Whitetigress's avatar

Until my early 20’s I never thought it was attainable. I mean sure I was in advanced English classes and carried a lot of street smarts in my back pocket, and was hell bent on creativity but one subject alone made me doubt my ability to ever attain the ultimate prize in education, which was a college degree. My mother never mentioned that I was going to college ever, so I never really had it in mind. Just finishing High School and from there perhaps joining the military was what was realistic. But what I wanted to do was be a punk musician or something. I pretty much wanted to do a whole bunch of creative outlets without anyone telling me what to do. For a while it worked then I realized a bunch of my friends even with projects I did still stayed in school and I felt it was time to do college as well. I like where I’m at now but I wish I never did school cause now I’m too close to transferring into a 4 year that I can’t quit it’ll be a waste, plus I might be able to inspire some kids that were in my shoes who grew up with nothing but dreams but were too poor to have equipment so education became the best route. Well those are my thoughts from a blender feel free to PM if you’d like something more indepth.

rooeytoo's avatar

My mother was a nurse, my dad had no college education. He started his own business and was successful. They both however revered education and it was assumed my brothers and I would go. I always hated school but I went until I had all the letters behind my name and they were happy. I paid for most of it myself. My parents were of german/irish extraction, third generation born in America. I personally think college is greatly overrated, at this point in time especially. A good tradesman can make more than someone with a bachelors in an impractical field. And for me, having a reliable and sufficient income is more important.

Shippy's avatar

I had a very strange upbringing, my parents loved traveling so I only attended school regularly at the age of 12 onward. Hence my rotten grammar! Oddly my parents thought the basics were good enough and getting the piece of paper at the end of your school career. Myself, I wanted nothing more than to study further. I have two incomplete degrees, simply because I couldn’t afford to carry on. So I would say my parents were not too fussed about eduction, myself inherently craved to go further. You never know might still happen!

Bellatrix's avatar

My father’s father died when he was a very young child leaving my grandmother with six children, no income and no welfare system. He won a scholarship to the local grammar school but she couldn’t afford the uniform/books and other things he would have needed on top of the things the scholarship would pay for. Plus, when he was 14, she needed him to go out to work not still be at school. So he very much valued education. He was never able to live up to his potential and he fervently believed if we were educated, we would be able to do better than he had. He especially thought this for his sons (not so much for his daughters).

bookish1's avatar

I was raised to be bookish! I come from a family of Brahmin teachers on my Indian side going back I don’t know how many generations. I was raised to see education/scholarship as a noble contribution to humanity, but also as a way to earn a comfortable living. My parents were able to make sure I had access to plenty of books and to educational experiences like science museums when I was young. When I was a child, I had to do all of my homework before I could go out and play (what I did more often was go to my room and play by myself or read.) In high school, I had to prove to my parents that I had a plan for getting my homework done over the weekend in order to go out on Friday nights. I am indeed very grateful that they were able and willing to make my studies a priority.

I sensed as early as 5th grade that there was no question of me not going to college, and that was just the first step…graduate or professional school was almost a must as well. A’s were a given, and I was asked “What is wrong with you?” when I got B’s. I still had the choice of how to respond to these expectations, however. School gave me an outlet to prove myself when I was deeply unhappy and couldn’t fathom living to the age of 30, much less 25. I am proud that I received a merit-based full scholarship to a wonderful college, and that I was accepted into graduate school right after college, so that I could be self-sufficient at an age where many of my peers are working in the service industry or still living with their parents. (Neither was an option for me, because I need health insurance, and because if I were still living at home, I’d probably be dead by now…) I am glad that I entered a field that really impassions me, rather than the sort of subjects traditional/stereotypical for my caste. Thanks, America!

I am very appreciative that I was raised in this sort of environment. Unfortunately, a good deal of classism was transmitted to me along with these views. I feel like I am hyper-aware of how class works in America now and I try to be very sensitive to it as a teacher, because I know that one’s education depends largely on one’s parents’ class background, and how wealthy of an area one grew up in.

wundayatta's avatar

I wish I had also asked what was the highest educational attainment of your father. The evidence suggests that your educational attainment is most highly correlated with that of your father’s. My father has a PhD, and yet, of his three children, only I have a graduate degree, and it isn’t a PhD.

Still, I’m working with an Indian who is studying the achievement of Indians who immigrate to America, and one of the things he has found is that the first generation does really well. Their children: not so much. It isn’t only Indians where this is a pattern. They call this “regression towards the mean,” meaning that if one generation is an outlier in terms of some form of excellence, the next is likely to be closer to the mean than the previous generation. So my father’s kids all have less official education than he does.

However, my parents valued education and paid for a college education for all of us. They felt it was their duty to do that, and they did it for no other reason than they believed a liberal arts education is the most important thing you need to live a fulfilling life. It isn’t about money or jobs. It is about preparing your mind for life. This is a value they passed down to all of their kids, although I’m the only one who also has kids.

Another value they passed on was that we are supposed to make the world a better place. That has been a problematic value for me, since it doesn’t allow me any satisfaction. I have never done enough. The world always has too far to go. So that is a value I have to find a way to accept without accepting the responsibility for success. I am responsible for trying. The problem is too big to be responsible for succeeding.

Education is not a means to an end, my parents told me. Although, I am expected to care for myself. I was expected to start caring for myself instantly upon graduating from college. That caused a big problem, since I graduated during the Carter-Reagan recession and jobs were hard to come by. So while I think he really believed in the value of education all on its own, I think that he also believed it should make me capable of supporting myself, even if technically, he never actually said that.

JLeslie's avatar

My father has a PhD. My mom a BA. I have a BA, my sister MA.

My maternal grandparents, one had a masters and the other was just short of their masters, never completed it.

My paternal grandparents I am not sure, but I would guess their education ended somewhere before 8th grade.

linguaphile's avatar

My dad’s a doctor and was in medical school when I was born. One of my earliest memories is at about 20 months of age—sitting on the floor next to my dad while he studied. To keep me quiet, he gave me a huge, gigantic pictorial medical textbook with the coolest plastic page inserts—those kept me enthralled for hours. The expectations from my dad were and still are high—my brother has a MA, my sister has 2 MA’s, a PhD and MD, and I have 4 BA’s, will have 2 MA’s soon and am working towards my PhD. any guess why the girls overachieve???

I read early, was very curious and had enjoyed playing with cause-effect relationships—so school was easy to love. I absolutely love learning, finding connections, discussing ideas—just love, love, love it. That part’s probably innate. School’s still my sanctuary—maybe too much so.

My mom determined how I got through school, though. She barely graduated from high school, but always pushed for the best for me. I got the best possible teachers and tutors, best possible programs, the best possible whatever she could find. She got a job as an ASL interpreter at my own high school and kept an eye on my progress. The message she gave me was to be the best, best, best and no less. Education was a way to “prove” something, it seems. I feel like she lived vicariously through me and that wasn’t all bad—I just wish she had allowed me to make and own my mistakes because once I was on my own, I couldn’t handle mistakes at all. It took me so long to accept that mistakes were a natural part of growing and learning.

My community was also influential—My godfather made me promise to go to college at age 5 and I spent a lot of time in my teens with a community advocate, who primed me for college as well. The message I got from them was that as a smart kid with all my skills, I owed it to my community and myself to go to college then find a job that gives back to my community. I did exactly that and enjoy what I do.

Sigh. I love school, but I absolutely detest paperwork. I need a secretary! :D

CrayCray's avatar

I was taught that education is very important. My dad came from a very poor background, I’m not quite sure about my mom’s background, but it’s the easiest way to ensure you set yourself up for a good future. The higher the level of education you get the better. But of course, it’s not the only thing that matters in life.

augustlan's avatar

@wundayatta I’m pretty sure my bio-father only completed high school. My step-father (who I consider my real dad) went to college much later in his life, and began a years long effort to make up for what he’d missed. He now has a masters degree, but I think he got it less than 10 years ago, when he was in his 50s.

rooeytoo's avatar

I personally have learned so much more from living than from the classroom. Not so much in terms of making a good living which was really the only reason I went beyond high school but in terms of education about life. My love for art didn’t come from a classroom, nor did my love of reading. But as I said I hated school, I hate being couped up, I need fresh air and open skies or I am unhappy. Guess it all depends upon the individual.

Coloma's avatar

I was raised in an educated family of professionals.Mother was a translator for the U.N., and a concert pianist, father was an architect. I was encouraged early and groomed to attend a prestigious institution of higher education and become a cog in the wheel. I burst the family bubble by running off at 17 after graduating H.S. in my Jr. year, to homestead on 200 remote acres on a lake in the hills of Northern California. I am a well read, intelligent. creative and highly curious type but school was far too regimented and confining for my free spirit. 35 years later I still live a life of free spiritedness and am a Jill of all trades, master of obscurity. lol

This little pony needs to be free, I have always taken the road less traveled and while I may not earn the salary I might have had I taken the well traveled path, I have had plenty of adventures and have lived life my way, no regrets. :-)

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma Do you ever question your path?

I can think of a number of schools that were designed for people like you. You could have had… in fact, still could have an education, if there was something driving you to learn about it. I assume you are self-educated, but formal education and wild freedom are not mutually exclusive, either.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta True enough I suppose but, not a day goes by that I don’t feel immense gratitude that I have managed to escape the rat race and live a life of creative freedom. Money and status have never been motivators for my personality, I need to feel really engaged in my work, and I gave up trying to fake it years ago.
My number one priority is personal fulfillment and serenity, which I have an abundance of.
I am proud I have managed to live a good life and stay out of the rat race while also finding work that allows me the freedom I desire and cherish. ;-)

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