Friday, December 25, 2009

It's not all about women in the work force

A couple of days ago, I received a comment telling me I cannot blame all the wrongs on the world on women working outside the home. I wanted to say that I fully agree. Women leaving their homes is just one symptom of a multitude of problems our society is afflicted with.

Our life, from being one organic unit where home, work and school were all one place, has become compartmentalized. People used to cook all their food from scratch, sew their own clothes and educate their own children, and living expenses were far cheaper than today. Now we are convinced it pays off to be shut away someplace to work, and give away our hard-earned money for things we might do without, and hand our children over to someone else to educate. We are much better organized now, we are recorded, written down, enrolled in all the right institutions. We are becoming less and less self-sufficient, and believe less and less in our own competence at basic life skills, and thus it's far easier for the government to control us.

The epitome of cruelty was the kibbutz experiment, which was a notion of radical Marxists. They wanted to eradicate the family unit altogether, and decided that children should be raised and educated in "a children's house", under the care of someone else than their parents. Luckily this warped idea was soon abandoned, but not before mutilating the souls of the children involved.

The family is irreplaceable, but the authority of parents is questioned by compulsory enrolment in an institutionalized educational system for children of younger and younger age. In Israel, children start school at the age of six. There is nothing children learn at elementary school that they can't learn at home with a moderately educated parent. Anyone can teach his or her children how to read, write, do basic math, and cover some geography and history. Anyone can provide access to good books. But now we, the parents, aren't even considered competent enough to provide what a one-year-old needs, right here at home.

Children are eager to learn, yet I have met four- and five-graders who were already lazy and dumbed down, through no fault of their own. When a child of ten thinks reading a story is only worthwhile if it will be included in the upcoming exam, I believe something is deeply wrong.

Some argue that in elementary school, children learn to be disciplined, sit quietly, and acquire social skills. I have seen differently. I have seen otherwise nice, good-natured children gang around a leader (usually a bully), while others were pushed to the margin and suffered. I often hear that children are cruel and that's it. I disagree. Bullying and aggressive behavior are lessened when children reach a certain age, not thanks to being at school, but simply because it's a different stage. Overall, I believe that the younger the children are, the more negative effects come from them being locked away in large groups.

Not all women who are officially "in the workforce" are in the same bucket. Our communities used to be much more integral. Neighbors were friends, and you knew personally the lady from the post office or the grocery store. There were many ties interlinking the people of one community. Now, people who live in cities are typically shut away in cubicles all day long. They don't know their neighbors, and do their shopping in large centers with dozens of check-outs and an unfamiliar face behind each one. We have become detached.

I lack the time and eloquence to dive into the discussion of whether the industrial revolution was, on the whole, for the good of our society. I'm far from being against progress. But I feel that in some places, we have gone too far. We have lost the connection to our communities, our homes, ourselves. And time has proven there is no replacement for that.

Preserving and nurturing the culture of home and family life is one of the only windows of sanity in this crazy world of ours. I know that some realities are hard to overcome and not everyone can pack and move to a small rural community. But we can all act for renewing the value of family and home.


Sarah Brodsky said...

I agree with some of this especially with regards to education, but I think we should be careful not to glorify economies in which everyone made all food from scratch, made all their things, etc. People also had to toil from dawn to dusk just to get basic necessities, and common people had no free time for reading or contemplation because a huge portion of time and effort went to procuring food. Our economy is more specialized now, but we also have more leisure and less suffering. It is a blessing that we don't have to depend on our own efforts alone and suffer famine if we fail.

Thursday's Child said...

I couldn't agree with you more!

Rachel said...

that is a really good post.
I agree with the mother being at home, and homeschooling the kids.

thanks for the post.


Veronica Boulden said...

Well... You claimed you weren't eloquent enough to dive in, but I think the last two paragraphs were eloquent enough! :) Well said!! ...Especially on a day like today that my family holds so dear, I am so thankful for my home and the fact that my husband and I both want to build a family more than build a fortune. Now I need to get off this computer and say, "Yes!" instead of "Come back later." to my daughter who wants to play her new board game with me... :)

Holly Days Closet said...

I couldn't have said it better. My daughter and I have been have an on going conversation about this very thing our theroys on it and how can we change it in our life and family. Thank you so much for you thoughts. They help my daughter and I feel not so alone.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I completely agree. I am thankful for many of the conveniences of the modern age (medicine, communication, dishwasher) but on the whole I think that while the Industrial Revolution may have bettered our physical status, it came at too great a cost. Someone said that if you give the work of a man to a machine to do, you devalue the man - and the devaluing has trickled into almost every aspect of modern life, leaving a soulless shell. I really enjoy reading what you have to say on this subject.

Gracie, your fellow Luddite ;-)

Jenn@Spejory said...

It seems as if most social movements begin with good intentions, but the passion needed to drive such movements often is so extreme, it goes way too far and ends up swinging things in a new direction that was never intended. Passion is good and stimulates movers and shakers to get things done. But the effects of feminism are so far-reaching and have crippled society much more than the traditions feminists were trying to "free" us from.

Joie said...

I have also seen that some children taught at home learn to hate, never question authority, learn only route and not to think for themselves and learn that violence and control are the only ways to be a man and submission to such violence and control the God ordained way to be a woman. All these things you mention are dependent upon the quality of the parents and there are many who shouldn't be parents in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Anna. Very good points. I wanted to post a link to a very thought-provoking title: Henry and the Great Society.

The link takes you to a PDF download of the book. Although it is from a Christian perspective, Anna, I don't think you will find it offensive to read. It is an allegory which fleshes out most of what you have touched on in your post. The main point is how the quest for "the good things in life" leads ultimately to the breakdown of society and much heartache. The story format makes it very easy to absorb. It has given me much to think about since reading it.

Anonymous said...

Brava Anna!

Have you read "The Unschooling Unmanual?" I think you might like it! Well, it doesn't say much you haven't already said.

Best wishes.

DawnM said...

Thank you for the thought-provoking post, Anna. I have been thinking back on our past and present life, trying to make sense of all this. It is so tempting to give in to the ways of the world - and so difficult to find a holy balance. I home schooled my own children and have never regretted it. (But Joie is right - the parents make all the difference.) I also had to work (or thought I had to work), although I did manage to have a flexible schedule by teaching part-time at a university, and now, translating. But you have managed to get to the heart of the matter (which is not necessarily either pro- or anti-industrial) - "Now we are convinced it pays off to be shut away someplace to work, and give away our hard-earned money for things we might do without, and hand our children over to someone else to educate. We are much better organized now, we are recorded, written down, enrolled in all the right institutions. We are becoming less and less self-sufficient, and believe less and less in our own competence at basic life skills, and thus it's far easier for the government to control us."
I believe the key is to become aware of what is happening around us and to take thoughtful control of our own lives. If we can manage to do that, we will avoid so much heartache.

Bbowzwife said...

There are two points in this post that jumped out at me. Firse, your statement "I'm far from being against progress. But I feel that in some places, we have gone too far." It reminds me so much of the popular notion, "if a little is good then a lot must be better!" How many people are dead each year from accidental overdoses because they thought the same thing?

Second, you may lack the time to dive into a discussion of whether the industrial revolution was, on the whole, for the good of our society, by you do not lack the eloquence. You are amazingly eloquent, insightful and gifted at a young age of being able to guide women in the path God lays for them. Sometimes I have to remind myself that you are, in fact, young enough to be my daughter! You are a true blessing to us.

Analytical Adam said...

Mrs. Anna,

I think that is why the G-d of Israel created the Shabbath. 6 days G-d created the world and on the 7th day G-d rested and is a time for family. If every day was a Shabbos the world would be basically like the USSR or North Korea today where nothing is produced and in the end this extreme is the same as communism.

I don't really feel the industrial revolution created this problem as feminism and breakdown of family life happened in many other societies (including ancient Israel if you read the later prophets) way before the industrial revolution. Feminism far out dates the industrial revolution.

From reading this book offered on the LAF site about the church being very feminized going back to the middle ages the book "The church impotent: the feminization of christianity" it does talk about how the industrial revolution made women feel less connected in some ways as work was more outside the home. However, the church rather then at least make the women realize that the men's work was not fun and was to help society and they had their role in the home instead sadly they used men's absence from the home to put down men that work and help society. Religion should allow men to work although they should spend at least their sabbath with their family in most cases. As work is certainly a G-dly thing. So I really think religion used men being away from home to put them down which was and is wrong by these so called religious men who deep down don't think G-d is watching them and this continues. The industrial revolution by itself should not have made women hate men in any way. Many of these men work hard and feel they are making money in a way that is helping society and the church (or the synogague) should not use man's time away from home to put them down. G-d wanted a BALANCE BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE DIFFERENCES. Men like to invent things and are somewhat competitive and a real man wants to work in an honest way even if it is repetitive to support his family and in moderation that is GOOD FOR A SOCIETY just as having A PERSONAL SOCIETY IN MODERATION I THINK IS GOOD. I think taking to an extreme the latter is bad as well (and don't really believe it has even existed) as some competition is normal and healthy and to repress it leads to far worse things. Many men who repress their competitiveness tend to always put other men down at the drop of a hat which of course is because they are afraid of competition from other men. Society requires a balance between family and the outside world and male and female natural inclination to certain area's.

When I was growing up my mother always got angry at me when I was competitive and this broke my spirit as a child and teenager as I was a very poor student in everything except math because of this and was put in a learning disabled group in high school even though I believe this was all due to my environment.

Jo said...

I am very thankful for modern advancements, including medical advancements, technological advancements and so forth. I am very glad I don't have to make me food from scratch and I am sure women of past generations would have welcomed some "modern technology" in their lives - it is easy to see the past with rose coloured glasses but the lives of women, in particular the poor, would be nothing we would want to swap with. Life was very tough - they died young, their children died young and they lived exhausted lives - unless you were middle or upper class.

Schooling is a critical part of a child's life (boys and girls equally) and that is one reason I didn't home school my two sons. I don't want them to have a basic understanding I want them to have the best and a wide range of qualified teachers can provide this, I can't. However I also added to their education by what we did at home eg reading, music, story telling, crafts and games.

erin said...

Thank you for that, Anna. So nice to hear another woman saying these things!
In response to the first comment, I have found that my best contemplation is done while preparing food from scratch, making things, and while in the garden "procuring food." Yes it is hard work, and often humble and dirty, yet I find that making the things I need from the raw material of God's creation brings me closer to it, and to Him. And I still have time to read!

Anonymous said...

We do not really know until the children are raised how they will turn out. It is easy for a parent of a small child not of school age to criticize the educational system. Here in the States, it starts as young as three for preschool, which I agree is too young. But, my children love their school and I while I would be willing to homeschool, they do not want it. It is very hard to socialize children in rural or suburban areas if you homeschool. I have seen well-intentioned mothers try to homeschool only to fail. They start out with the best of intentions only to have the situation slowly unravel. Money seems to play a big role in the failure or success of the homeschooling. Those that can afford proper books, household help, field trips, computer programs and so on seem to do well. Those that struggle with a pieced-together bargain-priced program and no help in a small home seem to have a very tough time. One mother I know who does this is clearly struggling but stubbornly clings to the homeschool ideal to the detriment of her bored and restless children, who often sit in front of a TV screen for hours on end. She often yells at them and I feel sorry for them all. Maybe trying homeschooling is fine, but if it does not work, a mother has to be willing to try something else. I know someone who did that and her children went back to public school. They are all doing fine.

I think my children are better off in school. They spend the day learning with peers while I make a home they are happy to come home to at the end of the day. It works for us and I think it works for most others. It is hard enough to buck the system by being a homemaker without the added pressures of homeschooling.

Anonymous said...

In spite of all the good reasons you give for opposing the educational system you forget perhaps one central aspect: There are so many parents who are not loving, caring and reflected in educational and religious things as you and many of your readers are.

Working in a public school as a teacher (10-18 years old kids and teens) I know perfectly well that there are very many parents and families who completely neglect their children. There are 5th graders who come to school without breakfast, without a lunch bag or money for something to eat. There are very young students who spend their whole time with tv and play station, who come to school untidy and dirty, without proper clothes etc.

These are not necessarily kids whose mothers work 12 hours a day. Many families who are out of work are guilty of severe neglect.

Don´t you think that it is a very necessary and most important thing of the educational system and society to take care of the children and give them the opportunity to learn?

You write so much about the blessings raised at home by a loving Mom. There are thousands and millions of kids who do not have cosy homes and caring moms.
For these children the public schools can be a blessing. It is easy for homeschooling Moms to lean back and critize public schools as rotten institutions of a fallen society. I am in the "work force" everyday, seeing broken families and try to be a good teacher and educator for all of these kids. Although I am not Mother Teresa and I am certainly make many wrong decisions I think that my daily work is precious and meaningful.

DawnM said...

One more note on the homeschooling issue. In the course of their education, my children went to both public and private school, but were mostly home schooled until they went to the university. For various reasons that were individual to my children and our family, public and private schooling simply did not work. I know there are arguments on both sides. I think each parent must examine themselves and ask themselves whether they are up to the task and what they have to offer their children. The key here is parental involvement. If a family has no choice but to use the public schools, the involvement of the parents and the values modeled at home make all the difference. We live in a very poor neighborhood with a lot of broken families, drug use, alcoholism, etc. There is a clear difference in the performance of children in the public school - between those whose parents work hard to be involved and be there for their children versus those who either do not want to or cannot be there for them. Children who come to school with empty stomachs and have to do all the housework and cooking themselves when they go home, with no one to encourage or coach them are practically doomed from the start. So are children whose parents are perhaps there, but automatically assume that the school will do everything right. Sending your children to school, whether public or private, never releases the parents of their responsibility to be the ones who are ultimately in charge of their children's education. That is part of "taking thoughtful control" of our lives.

Marytoo said...

I wish to address the issue of children.

Children are not the best socializers of other children. You can see the truth of this when you send your children away, whether to day care or pre-school or wherever for the first time, and they come home saying words and doing things that you do not allow in your home.

Also, as far as children being with their "peers"...why do we limit the definition of peers to "children their own age"??? In a room full of kindergarteners some can read fluently, others are just learning the letters.

Are these children peers? Agewise, certainly, but intellectually, physically, emotionally??? Why do we place so much importance on grouping them together by age?

And as far as needing expensive books and resources to be able to teach children. Limiting my comments only to education and its history in America, may I point out that in early America children were educated at home, often with the Bible being the only book in the home, and America had the highest literacy rate ever in the history of the world, producing thinkers and statesmen capable of conceiving and communicating the concept of America. Public education became commonplace only something over a hundred years ago; the literacy rate has gone into decline since its advent, and rather than mastery and analysis, education is typically reduced to a true/false, or multiple choice test.

Lady M said...

It is all about moderation, isn't it? The advancements technologically are great and ultimately, there are many I would not want to give up, but there are others we can and do live without.

I do make my meals from scratch (yum!) and grow as much as we can and buy as much as I can from local farmers. Processed foods are a detriment to our health. Convenient perhaps, but not very good for us.

I have homeschooled from the beginning and my children are 11, 8 & 1. I suspect many people really do not understand what socialization really is about. My children are absolutely civilized, well mannered, can communicate well with people of all ages (LOVE to spend time with their 88 & 90 yr old great-grandma's). However, they have not been trained to think like everyone else. They do not "worship" the current idols at the public schools (ie those Disney music/movie stars - I do not know their names even, lol).

Stay the course for homeschooling. You do NOT have to be rich to homeschool. While my husband makes a decent income, in our area, we are probably lower middle class, income-wise since I do not work outside the home. We rent our current home (we do want to buy eventually, but not a huge priority), we drive older used cars (lots of miles!), I try to spend our money as wisely as possible. Just because we do not have "help" in the home and are not rich does not mean my children are not well educated. I have looked at what "skills" the PS children around here (in the USA) are expected to have (on the BOE websites) and we have well surpassed those expectations by at least 1-3 years, depending on the subject.

Sorry, but I get really annoyed when people who are NOT homeschooling swoop in and make a lot of broad assumptions about homeschooled children. I could do the same about PS's children - but I do not have to (I have nieces & nephews in the PS's - the difference is clear to me). Yes, there are exceptions to each group, but that is the key word - exceptions. That said, my little sister got lost in the cracks of PS - and has never been the same since. Teacher said she did not have TIME of one student who needed extra attention because of a deathly ill father...

I suspect the homeschool/not-homeschool issue is becoming like the breastfeeding/not-breastfeeding issue - people line up on both sides of the debate...And we know how those discussions can get.

leah Burks said...

I agree so much on the questioning of "whether the industrial revolution was, on the whole, for the good of our society." Also, " I'm far from being against progress" as well.You are right about believing in ourselves being capable of raising our own children, teaching them, and showing them how to be more self-sufficient rather than less, like this society would have them be.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Certainly, when we are talking about broken/neglectful families, it's probably better for the child not to be educated at home. But as you are probably guessing, I'm not talking about such cases. I'm not even talking, yet, about a stage when subjects become challenging for a parent. For now, I'm focused on discussing the authority and capability of the average parents to teach their elementary-school-aged child.

What bothers me is that we are given so little choice in education. Things are different in the US, but here in Israel, homeschooling has a barely legal status. I think we should have real choices concerning the education of our children.

Anonymous said...

DEar Mrs. Anna T.,
of course you do not have in mind children raised in abusive and neglective families.
But after all if you discuss the topic "public schools" and all its negative consequences a broad view of society is - in my opinion - necessary. You have described the changes in society very well and in detail: women who are under pressure to work, women who have to justify for staying at home.

But it is also a change in our society (one which I experience everyday) that there are more and more families who are neglecting their children. It is not a question of material poverty. It is a kind of attitude. The number of parents who do not care for their kids properly (feed them properly, dress them and spend time with them, teaching them most basic skills) are rising in a most shocking way. And this is an aspect that seems to be relevant discussing the role and the relevance of PS.

I always feel a little bit irritated when it comes to the shortcomings of public schools. If parents more and more completely delegate the task of teaching and educating and socializing their children to the teachers, severe problems must arise. But after all, for many children the many hours spent in school are better invested than staying at home with desinterested and neglecting parents.

I know teachers (elementary school) who had to teach 6 years old children how to use a pencil.

Marytoo said...

This discussion brings to mind a conversation I had with a friend several years ago. She asked me how I got my children to brush their teeth. Huh??? I told her I simply taught them from an early age that they would brush their teeth every day when they got up and when they went to bed. She then sighed and said, "I wish there was an obedience school for children." I said, "There is!!!! It is called HOME!" But what she really wanted was someone else to do her job for her. By the way, she did not have a job outside her home.

Anonymous said...

Public schools have been impressing upon children for years that they need to think "beyond" homemaking, and find a profession. If people employed in public schools don't want to deal with the results of increasingly neglected home duties, they should work to counteract the teaching that those home duties are of little value.

Abigail said...

Personally, I believe that a mother needs to be home with her children, until they leave the home to be married or make a life of their own. I believe that homeschooling wasn't always necessary, but most certainly is now, because of the lunacy they're teaching in public and even private schools of this day. When you push children aside for a career or other selfish ambitions, your children feel that neglect and it's what I think causes criminal acts and other negative behaviors. Everything has a root from which it grew. We cannot simply say, "Well.. if they're this way or that way, it's because they've come to be that way on their own." We, as mothers, have a lasting influence. Every person who grew up with a mother, remembers that woman and how she cared for them, or lack thereof. I love being home. I feel safe here. My girls adore me, and look up to me, and want to be like me! What a cherished feeling. I am blessed. God is so good, and yes, my walk with the Lord is what has encouraged me to live as I do, but for those who are without a relationship with the Lord, I feel it causes people to try to make everything happen for themselves, and we cannot rely on our own strength. But, that's another topic.

Buffy said...

Well said. I wish we could be wiser as a society about preserving the things that work as well as improving the things that don't.