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8/9/08

overly sensitive, or maybe I have a point, you decide

So it is a good thing I'm teaching on "Agency" tommorrow, and not "Preparing to Become an Eternal Companion."

Our books are old, but here are some gems from the EC lesson I simply wouldn't be able to teach with a straight face.

"Explain that many young women enter into marriage with little preparation for the demands it makes. Write the following headings on the chalkboard: Spiritual and Homemaking." Explain that there are other areas in which young women should be prepared, but this lesson will discuss only two."

Out of all the things I wish I knew before I got married, Homemaking was admittedly on the list, but wasn't in the top two. Does anyone else think Education might have been a bit more important? With Homemaking given a less central point. Clarification, in the entire lesson, raising children was not mentioned as an aspect of homemaking, or at all, actually. I think "homemaking" in terms of raising children would be very important. In this lesson "homemaking" referenced cooking skills and keeping a "tidy home"

According to the National Women's Law Center, 71% of mothers are in the workforce. It is noted that many of those women are in the workforce due to necessity. They need to help support their families in a struggling economy.

Given that statistic, don't you think "Education" and "Life Skills" would be a valuable addition to Spirituality and Homemaking? I mean, I wish I was a better cook/homemaker, but I find the job skills/value of education instilled in me by my own stay-at-home mother were much more helpful when I became a MCB.

I'm not saying cut out homemaking, but really, is it the most important thing in preparing to become an eternal companion? On the same level as "Spirituality" in importance?

Next topic

"Explain that a young man on a mission was asked what he missed most about being away from home" "Mom's great cooking," he replied without hesitation..

A daughter replies, "[Our home] was always tidy and was decorated with her own creations"

Um, the most important thing was the woman's cooking and her handicrafts? Again, these things are important, but I guess they aren't very personal. What about her spiritual and intellectual example as a human being? Shouldn't that be emphasized more that handicrafts or a great meatloaf recipe?

So, think about this, and discuss. Is there something missing from this lesson? Is it outdated just a tad? (1977) Should we be supplementing lessons like these with recent First Presidency talks about the necessity of education?

Am I just overly sensitive?

Discuss, but play nice. I am moderating comments and sorry, but no anonymous comments allowed.

20 comments:

AzĂșcar said...

Our president always encouraged us (as teachers) to use the book but also update as necessary. I can't tell you why, but it's likely that those manuals won't be changed for a while, which is really a shame. I, for one, wish they were a little more scripture-centered.

I tried to both update and bring a touch of reality into my lessons, and I think the girls appreciated it. You should absolutely bring up your points and update with the newer talks from Hinckley, etc,.

Heidi Ashworth said...

Hmmmm . . . I think that education is something that is more publicly discussed and valued by "the church" than it has been in the past. I think that, yes, the lesson is a bit outdated. In 1977it was rare for a mother to be working unless her kids were all raised. Pres. Hinckley very often stressed the importance of education for girls/women.

James McOmber said...

No, you're not overly sensitive. In fact, I thought your reaction to something like that would be more averse than it was. Traces of unnecessary patriarchy (read: patronizing, wrongly interpreted gender roles that probably lead to the unacceptable level of LDS women's depression in the first place) still boil my blood. It's sort of like old people being bigoted against something like interracial marriage, quietly or not: perhaps those with so skewed a viewpoint are products of their time and circumstance, but that still doesn't make it an OK stance to take. At all.

Melanie said...

I get really frustrated that as a young woman I was taught to get an education in case anything were to happen: in case I never got married or in case something happened to my husband. It takes brains to be a mother, a good one anyway.

I taught a YW lesson recently and specifically asked some of the young mothers in our ward to talk about how the skills and knowledge that they gained through formal education help them as they raise their children.

I'm all about motherhood and creating a pleasant home AND getting as much education as possible. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I recognize that not everyone has the opportunity to go to college, and I also recognize that knowledge can be gained outside of the classroom, but many of us in the US do have that opportunity, and we should take advantage of it.

I wish that in the church we'd stop teaching women to get an education "in case." That's not what the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have been teaching.

Ben said...

Okay, the awkward phrasing of "spiritual" and "homemaking" gets to me right off the bat. While I know homemaking can be an adjective, in my mind--and I would assume in your mind--it's a noun. No matter what, the rule of thumb I always follow is that if it feels wrong, it is wrong. So a better alternative would be, say, "spiritual" and "domestic," or perhaps "daughter of God" and "homemaker." In both cases these terms somehow don't seem to be on the same level. Hmm...

Stephanie said...

excellent comments, everyone. don't you just love internet discussions. i feel like i am interacting socially (not my forte) without leaving my home!

some notes-

james, i was totally pissed and threw a complete hissy fit when i first saw the lesson. i had to force myself to calm down enough to focus on my agency lesson. but believe me, a hissy fit was had.

azucar- AMEN. there was a shocking lack of scripture, which is a shame because the scriptures actually say a lot about the divine nature of women.

i had some more thoughts reading the rest of the comments. it's totally true that president hinckley and the current first presidency has placed an emphasis on education.

so yes, nothing makes me angrier than a person saying they are recieving an education "just in case." while i totally agree with melanie's point that an educated mother (formally or informally) is often a good one, i wish people would talk about the benefits of education for the woman as an individual. to make her a more defined self-actualized person more capable of spiritual growth.

i mean, thats what totally bugged me about the lesson where the kids only identify with their mother's homemaking (i agree, ben, i like domestic better) skills. it seems like women are often incorrectly taught to do things only for other people. the lesson told them to "develop" spiritually for their future husbands, and develop homemaking skills for out children.

it is necessary and more than ok to develop skills, opinions, and thoughts solely for yourself. it isn't selfish, it's part of recognizing and developing our divine nature.

stepping off soapbox before this turns into it's own post....

wonder woman said...

I think that your manual was a tad outdated - MUCH has changed in 30 years. In the world, and it the Church. I was startled to read what you said about the lesson. The fact that so much emphasis was placed on housekeeping and cooking and handicraft.....wow. And that "mothering" or "nurturing" wasn't mentioned. I'm glad our leaders are saying different things now.

That said, I do not have a college degree. I have always been an excellent student and fully planned on getting a degree and teaching high school english, or possibly going into journalism. I got married kind of unexpectedly and didn't have time to transfer schools. Then I felt pretty strongly that it was time to have kids. So that's what I did. I now have two.

I wish that I had graduated before having kids. But I had 3-4 years left when I got married. And we're "not supposed to put off kids for anything, even school." But women are "supposed to get all the education they can just in case," (a whole different issue I won't go into). But we're also encouraged to be the one to raise our kids, and not have babysitters/daycare for the majority of their most formative years.

HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO ALL THAT?! I guess if you get married after you graduate, you're good. But that's assuming you meet your "eternal companion" close to the end of school. 'Cuz we're "not supposed to have long engagements."

So this is my tiff. I guess you take all the counsel and figure out what God wants for you. It just seems impossible to do it all.

And I'm glad being a good mom is more than housekeeping. Like I don't have enough to feel guilty about.

Jessica said...

I have a wonderful meatloaf recipe. Call me. I'll give it to you.

Jenny said...

Have you seen all the supplemental material for the lessons? They are good conference talks and New Era Articles from the past year. If you go to 'prepare a lesson' under the church website you can find a link for talks etc for each lesson. You can also get a print out of the New Era articles from your YW president. I have them all if she doesn't and I will email them to you.

I read the stories from the lessons to my family members as a joke.

grace said...

I'm not a Mormon, but I think you've got a point. "Balance in all things", and all that...

LisAway said...

1977 was a different time, but obviously the doctrines are the same. It's all about the emphasis. So yes, we would definitely stress education more these days.

I do think, however, that part of the reason education may not have been emphasized then is because women were not/are not encouraged to attain an education with the goal being to have a career. Especially in our days of womens lib and feminism where women "should" be well educated in order to have, and succeed in, an "important career." I think that's where the "just in case" annoyance comes in. The best is, if a mother doesn't have to also be a career woman, but she should be able to.

Also, we're supposed to be constantly educating ourselves. You don't have to be attending a university to gain education that will make you a more "defined and self actualized person." As a matter of fact, in many ways, I think this is better achieved at home.

You're totally right that the more knowledge we have, in all subjects, the greater our ability to grow spiritually (and be better homemakers!).

Lena said...

If there is one thing I have learned from watchign Mad Men, its that the role of women in the workplace and in the world had changed drastically in the last 50 years.

I know that the Church will never completely change their stance that a woman's place is first and foremost in the home. Which is fine, because they also say all those great things about education being so important. And not "just in case" either. My mother in law went to one semester of college and I have never known anyone witht he spot removing knowlege she has. That is every bit as important (if not more so sometimes) as the ability to solve an algebra problem.

I am glad to hear that you are looking for supplemental information for your lessons. I would hate to hear that you just took that all at face value. Like if you had a manual that still said blacks couldn't hold the priesthood. I hope you would change that.

Good luck!

Katie said...

I agree that domestic works better as far as structure. But here's my problem with the word domestic. It reminds me of wild animals who go around biting people until they become domesticated. Or learn to cook.

Two states of women: wild (pre-marriage) and domesticated (post-marriage).

End rant.

But seriously, those delineations make me sad. I know the Church thinks of women as more complete individuals than that.

Katie said...

Maybe there should be a section in that lesson about using correct grammar in their future blogs. I'm just saying, it's a big problem. Probably more than those dustmites deep under Angelcake's bed.

Okay, maybe that was over the line.

Stephanie said...

grumble. katie,

It's a blog, not my masters thesis. which is totally error free thanks to a bunch of editors.

Which unforgivable error did I commit this time. your/you're mix-up

there/their/they're (my most common sin)?

grumble.

Stephanie said...

ahhh the dreaded it's its it is conundrum.

thank you katie.

Katie said...

Ha ha, I wasn't even pointing out your error, which I didn't even notice. I was thinking more generally about all the unnecessary exclamation points, agreement issues (we sure is excited), and pronoun problems (he and me danced), found in so many other blogs.

The occasional its/it's, their/there/they're, to/too, etc., slip is inevitible. Besides, you know better. I have doubts about some others.

Nicole said...

At least you notice and are bothered by these kinds of things and are looking for ways to give your Young Women something else to shoot for.

I remember all too well a Wednesday night activity which included these gems of wisdom:

1) Make sure that you dress nicely and do your hair and makeup each day -- your husband deserves to come home to better than you in sweats and a ponytail.

2) Don't let yourself go after having a baby. Men have a hard time being committed to one woman as it is, so keeping yourself attractive and fit will help him to be faithful.

3) Even if you have a hard day at home, don't complain to your husband about it. HIS home should be a place of refuge, and you disturb that by complaining.

I am not kidding. These things were taught to us with a straight face. I vividly remember (even at the age of 13) being totally disgusted.

Just to spite those leaders, I have gotten as fat as I can, have been wearing nothing but maternity clothes for 6 years, and only shave on a quarterly basis.

That'll teach 'em!

JustMe said...

I think you may indeed by "overly sensitive". As others have pointed out, a lot has changed in 30 years.

Education is so important for everyone. But why do we only stress formal education? My dad had a 7th grade education, and he was one of the most scholarly people I have ever known. My dad read a great deal – and I never saw him read a work of fiction. He studied all of the great religious works – The Bible – The Book of Mormon – The Koran, as well as many others. He wasn’t a member of the Church; he always said he was an agnostic. But he also said, that of all the Christian churches, only 2 could possibly be right – The Roman Catholic Church or The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I find that a rather perceptive evaluation for an “uneducated” man.

Given a choice between education and wisdom – I’ll take wisdom. Wisdom comes with life, and many of us never have it.

There is no job in the world more important than that of creating a warm and welcoming home. Call it what you will, but “homemaking” is vital to our success as human beings. My house is the place our children gather with their spouses and their friends. On Sunday, my house is filled with laughter and warmth. Around the dinner table we discuss everything from Scriptures, to politics, to “are Brad and Angelina doing their children a disservice by not giving them a stable home”. And to be honest, sometimes they gather at my house because I am a wonderful cook.

But do you really think that young man meant he missed his mom’s cooking? That young woman wasn’t really talking about her mother’s cleaning and decorating skills. It sounds to me like they were saying they missed their families and the home that had been created for them.

Be curious – and hope that your children are too. Curious people want to know why and how the pyramids were built, and know how the Church of England came into being (thanks, Anne Boleyn), and a thousand other facts about our world. I know people who hold several advanced degrees, and they are curious about nothing.

I’ve taught RS in several wards, and I know I am an outstanding teacher. I never seem to stay in that calling too long because I push the limits. Try writing “sexuality” on the board and telling the sisters “I know we’ve all done it, and we’re going to talk about it”, and see how long you last as a teacher. It was a great lesson though.

I have children older than you are. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I only went to college for 2 years, but I’ve never stopped learning and growing. I stayed home with my children when they were young and it was the hardest and most important job I’ve ever had. Teach from your heart and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide your words.

Mrs. Clark said...

I was not an MCB--I had graduated with a degree in journalism when I married, and I could cook and sew as well. (I occasionally brag about the blue ribbon I got for my cherry pie at the Utah County Fair--I was a 23-year-old newlywed.)

I recall some years ago a woman addressing the education "just in case" issue; I think it was in an old issue of Exponent II. She said something like: "I was educated for failure. If I failed to marry, if my husband failed to support me, if my marriage failed..."

Education is not for failure. But I have to tell you that I am much better educated today than the day I graduated from BYU. I have informally pursued learning in many areas. It's nice to have that piece of paper (and email me if you want to learn the fail-safe test for the its it's conundrum) but keep that in perspective too.

That said, my daughter got married three weeks ago. At her age (21) I could cook a complete Thanksgiving dinner, and make pie and bread from scratch.

She and her husband spend A LOT of money eating out. Being able to plan and cook a meal at home saves a lot of money--and I don't mean sticking prepared food into the microwave. Ditto being able to remove stains, sew curtains, etc.

But I think that aspect of self-sufficiency (and that's how it should be presented, if you ask me) belongs on Mutual night, not in a Sunday lesson.

I could go on and on, but I've gone on enough! You're terrific--hang in there with your master's degree, but be aware that the classroom emphasis on the dysfunctional can make it seem more common than the normal. It's not!