Education: Shaping your station in life

Education Matters

Jayne Matthews Hopson | 8/16/2013, 6 a.m. | Updated on 8/16/2013, 8:03 a.m.
This week’s column reminds me of those grade school writing assignments that asked me to compose an essay on how ...

It happens that I have practically some connection with schools for different classes of youth; and I receive many letters from parents respecting the education of their children. In the mass of these letters I am always struck by the precedence, which the idea of a “position in life” takes above all other thoughts in the parents’—more especially in the mothers’—minds.

“The education befitting such and such a station in life”—this is the phrase, this the object, always. They never seek, as far as I can make out, an education good in itself; even the conception of abstract rightness in training rarely seems reached by the writers.

But an education “which shall keep a good coat on my son’s back; —which shall enable him to ring with confidence the visitors’ bell at double-belled doors; which shall result ultimately in establishment of a double-belled door to his own house; —in a word, which shall lead to ‘advancement in life’; —this we pray for on bended knees —and this is all we pray for.”

It never seems to occur to the parents that there may be an education, which, in itself, is advancement in life; — that any other than that may perhaps be advancement in Death; and that this essential education might be more easily got, or given, than they fancy, if they set about it in the right way; while it is for no price, and by no favor, to be got, if they set about it in the wrong.

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes weekly on education matters because “only the educated are free.”