Friday, June 26, 2009

A new parent-child dynamic

There's an interesting piece in the NYTimes this morning about college and industrial towns in Ohio. Lots of typical stuff about no more jobs for kids without college, but I thought this was particularly fascinating from a storytelling point of view:
"Erik Newton, who just graduated from West Carrollton High, will be going to Sinclair to study firefighting with Brandon Abney. His mother, a laid-off G.M. worker, will also be there, studying to become a social worker."
So, now we've got two generations attending college for the first time at the same time. Very interesting.

1 comment:

Wyman Stewart said...

I highly recommend this myself. In the 1980s when my brother graduated from high school, moving on to our local Community College in the Fall, this inspired my Mother to attend our local Community College, first in a Business Office Certificate Program to train for work, then to try to get her Associate in Science degree. By the time the first term had ended, they had convinced me to finally go to college, almost 9 years after I had given up in frustration due to misinformation when I first tried to go to college.

For various reasons my brother eventually had to drop out of college, leaving behind his goal of becoming a Mathematician, a loss to him and the world, I think. My Mother got her Certificate, but health issues forced our Mother to give up her pursuit of her AS degree. Before that happened, she and I shared a World Geography class together and I will be forever grateful that we did.

Even then I thought it was a bad idea to share a class with my own Mother, but I did. I got to see how hard she worked to succeed, witnessed her accomplishments in class, and she even helped me with some map projects connected with the course, since my time was limited due to having a fulltime job. Not only did I discover there are joys in sharing a class with your own Mother, I knew when she got a C grade for the course, while I got an A, it was not because she wasn't an A student. She knew everything I knew and more.

Sadly, she froze up at exam time and forgot too many answers to the exam questions. She was unable to find a cure for this problem. However, today, I know it might have been a sign of the health problems that eventually forced her to quit college. Of the 3 of us, I am the only one who was able to complete a degree, but it took me 12 years studying, almost all part time, while working fulltime. A couple of months before my 40th. birthday, I got my A.A. degree. Yet, my Mother was truly the most accomplished member of our family in her educational pursuits and I am certain, given time, she would have earned a Bachelors degree. I am also certain that I recommend the experience of sharing at least one college course with a parent, if you possibly can. I consider the class we shared a major highlight in my education and my life. Also, if not for my Mother and brother, I doubt I would have gone to college, even though for much of my life I dreamed of being a scientist, something I will never be. Now, I dream of being a writer; another of my lifetime dreams. I should add here, my Father was also inspired to do Vocational Training at the same Community College and succeeded in various Vocational areas he pursued. All in all, my brothers graduation from high school turned into a catalyst for an Educational Family Renaissance.

Sorry, if I garbled the story. Many thoughts flooded back into my memory. I think many many people are denied the opportunity to pursue college and vocational education for various reasons. I wish this country would find a way to overcome that. Often when I read headlines that say we do not have enough scientists, engineers, and other well qualified people to fill job positions, I wonder if that is not because people have been denied the opportunity to pursue those positions, because life gave them obligations that thwarted such thoughts or those opportunities simply weren't there to take advantage of.

Oh well, I do have that great memory of sharing a World Geography class with my Mother. I don't think it is unusual at all that a parent and child might find themselves in college at the same time. That might even be a good thing. Best of luck to the people in the story you brought up. Hope you will forgive me for taking up so much space. I could not resist the temptation. Thank you.