Read My New Article at The Well

Some quick shameless self-promotion: I have been published online at The Well, an InterVarsity website published by Women in the Academy and Professions. My article, “Balancing Out Callings”, is part of their “Being a Good Brother” series by and about husbands of professional and academic women. It’s about some guidelines that Elizabeth (try to) use to keep ourselves sane and respect God’s call in our lives. Enjoy!

Link

Only in New York City…

…could the simple act of not sending your children to pre-school and spending time with them at home instead be described as some sort of intelligentsia trend.

From the article:

With [5-year-old] Benny, Mr. Lewis [an NYU professor] went on to say, “we embraced a hybrid between home-schooling and unschooling. It’s not structured, it’s Benny-centric, we follow his interests and desires, and yet we are helping him to learn to read and do math.” They read to him hours every day. “It’s about trying to find things we both enjoy doing,””

Funny: I thought that was called parenting.

Ginger, you need to read this article (when you learn to read). You’re part of a super-hot wave of the future and didn’t even know it!

Postmodern Art Gallery

Yesterday, our daughters spent part of the afternoon painting outside on our patio.  When it came time to put away the paints, our 4-year-old had a stack of wet paintings that needed to be hung up and dried.  “Aha,” I thought, “I’ll just get some twine and clothespins and hang them on the deck.”  My next thought, however, was, “Twine and clothespins?  What is this – Little House on the Prairie? We don’t even have twine and clothespins!”

So I created a hanging wall with the contemporary equivalent: DSL cable and binder clips.  Problem solved.

Pictures drying on the deck

Pictures drying on the deck

DSL cable as twine

DSL cable as twine

Binder clips as clothespins

Binder clips as clothespins

Disadvantages of an Elite Education

There is a new essay called The Disadvantages of an Elite Education by William Deresiewicz in The American Scholar that is making the rounds in higher education discussions.  I think the subtitle of the article sums up its thesis well:

Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers

He is writing primarily about elite universities, the same ones that ESN is trying to transform.  Deresiewicz was on the faculty at Yale for 10 years, so he has some background in this.

His argument has several points, but here’s one that stuck out at me.

An elite education gives you the chance to be rich—which is, after all, what we’re talking about—but it takes away the chance not to be. Yet the opportunity not to be rich is one of the greatest opportunities with which young Americans have been blessed. We live in a society that is itself so wealthy that it can afford to provide a decent living to whole classes of people who in other countries exist (or in earlier times existed) on the brink of poverty or, at least, of indignity. You can live comfortably in the United States as a schoolteacher, or a community organizer, or a civil rights lawyer, or an artist—that is, by any reasonable definition of comfort.  [snip]

Yet it is precisely that opportunity that an elite education takes away. How can I be a schoolteacher—wouldn’t that be a waste of my expensive education? Wouldn’t I be squandering the opportunities my parents worked so hard to provide? What will my friends think? How will I face my classmates at our 20th reunion, when they’re all rich lawyers or important people in New York? And the question that lies behind all these: Isn’t it beneath me? So a whole universe of possibility closes, and you miss your true calling.

I think Deresiewicz glosses over another reason why elite universities rob you of the opportunite “not to be rich”: student loans. I was accepted to Yale when I was a senior in high school, but even with financial aid, I would have need to take out something like $20,000 per year in student loans to make it work.  The University of Louisville offered me a full ride; between UofL and my master’s degree at Regent (where I also received a scholarship, and where my parents graciously paid for my thesis), I was able to complete my entire education to date with less than $10,000 total in student loans.  My senior year in high school, for some unknown reason, I was convinced that I wanted to be a high school principal (I still don’t know why), and the prospect of starting a career as a teacher with over $100,000 in student loan debt did not appeal to me.

Over at Slate.com, Meghan O’Rourke has a nice tribute to Anne of Green Gables, which has been published in a new Modern Library edition.  O’Rourke does a good job, but she starts her article playing devil’s advocate: why should Anne of Green Gables, of all things, receive this kind of treatment?

To some, this canonical promotion of a writer who would probably now be classified as a Y.A. (young adult) author might seem preposterous. To certain left-leaning cultural theorists who won’t embrace a heroine with a less-than-revolutionary CV—Anne, once the Island’s best young scholar, chooses to become a devoted wife and mother of six—the Modern Library’s decision may appear to be a reactionary cave-in to nostalgic sentimentality.

Compare this to Deresiewicz’s point about elite education: using a bright mind, or an elite education, to become something as pedestrian as a mother is, well, “wasteful,” when you could be doing the “real work” of becoming rich or “successful.”  There’s nothing wrong with being a banker, hedge fund manager, or what have you, but let’s be very careful here.  The Victorians elevated motherhood to an idol; we have lowered to a calling of last resort.  I had a feminist professor in college who liked to read aloud articles that described how much a mother would be paid if all of her jobs were added up (e.g. chaffeur, personal shopper, maid, etc.).  I think she thought she was being flattering to mothers by noting their worth.  And she was, but she was also buying into our society’s preoccupation with salary as a measure of importance.

The Final Countdown?

Well, this is quite possibly our final Monday as a family with two kids.  Elizabeth is due to give birth to our son this Friday, May 2 (which is also my mother’s birthday).  Agatha was right on time – born at 8:00 am on her due date – while Ginger was two weeks late.  Just about everything is ready – we have a name picked out (it’s a secret), a crib, a freshly painted pirate-themed nursery.  Not everyone is ready, though: Elizabeth asked Ginger what she thought of baby brother.  She shook her head and said, “No like!”

Gillette AristocratIn other news, we received yet another free television, this time an HDTV from Elizabeth’s aunt!  While there, we also received several family heirlooms that had belonged to Elizabeth’s grandmother.  I claimed this incredible Gillette Aristocrat safety razor.  Elizabeth insists that I not use it, but, if I did, it came with several dozen extra razors.  

If I did decide to convert to “wet shaving,” at least I have some good guidance from Andy Crouch.