Clarity of Choices

As you may know, I’ve been thinking about pursuing a master’s degree ever since I was an undergrad.  Sometimes I want to move up the salary schedule, sometimes it just feels like the logical next step, and sometimes I just get excited about doing it because, yes, I’m the rare teacher who actually ENJOYS most of my staff development!  (I am NOT being an overacheiving suck-up here!  I love learning something new about teaching and then turning around the next day and trying it with my own students!  We don’t choose what we love, you know…That being said, I am well aware that I am unlike 90% of teachers.  I can’t change it, this is who I am!)

Another reason is, although I absolutely love my job, I don’t forsee loving it forever.  Having further education would open up my options for working with students, teachers, and families.  Actually, I would love to work with families of young children!  I know some people professionally who do things related to families, and I would love that challenge.  Education is my priority, but families are the source of it.  The parents are the child’s first and most important educators.  If parents believe education is important, the child has a chance to succeed.  The things that go on at home affect how things go at school more than parents realize.  Think about it…doesn’t your home life affect your job, as an adult?

Oh, lordy, I just read that last paragraph…I am SO in the right career for me, aren’t I?…I am such a dork…  🙂

Back to the POINT…I blogged awhile back about how I didn’t feel right about pursuing graduate work until I found the right program for me.  Well, I think I’m getting closer.  I actually discovered some options.  I can get an online degree, or I can get a degree from actual classrooms.  The online degree sounds easy…if all I want is to move up the salary schedule.  You can also finish faster.  Oddly, the online classwork is also more expensive!  But in thinking about it, my main goals are to learn more, become a better teacher, and expand my options in my career field.  Moving up the salary schedule is truly a bonus.  I would want those other things even if there were no financial perks.  So for me, graduate education in an actual classroom setting is the better choice.

The nagging question remains, though…What if I have children?  What if I have children sooner, rather than later?  What if I have children soon and have the opportunity to stay home with them while they are little?  Is my master’s a waste of time and money, now?  Or is starting it a waste of time and money, if I end up not being able to finish it in the planned time period?  You know that the dream of my life is to be a homemaker…What if I have the opportunity to do that full-time, instead of as the more important of two careers?

Okay, I’m going to ramble and try to work this out a bit.  If it’s just me, of course I would like to pursue graduate work.  No confusion there.  If it’s just me and a husband, same thing.  If for some reason it’s me and kids, no husband, I’ll have to work, so having a master’s would be a good choice anyway.  If it’s me, husband, and kids and me staying home isn’t the choice we make, then I would also think a master’s would be a fine choice.  (And we’re remembering that “a master’s” also indicates being better at my job, and having more opportunities for growth and change in my career.  If I’m working outside the home in any way, those things are valuable.)

But if it’s me, a husband, a houseful of kids, and the opportunity to stay home?  If for some reason I had to choose between a master’s (and the skills and opportunities), and staying home with children, it’s no contest.  I want to stay home with children.  Raising kids is truly what I feel I was made to do, and to stay home with them and focus entirely on that purpose…I can think of nothing that would make me happier and more fulfilled.  INCLUDING being a good teacher or working with families.  It actually makes a lot of sense, if you think about it.  My focus, professionally, is on families and early childhood.  Of course in my own family I would want to focus entirely on that!  (On a side note, being a teacher, it would be SO fun to homeschool my own children!  Fun for me.  Am I really going to do it?  Possibly, but likely not.  It’s a totally selfish desire on my part!)

In the argument between staying home and being a working mother, you might see I’ve left out my opinions about what would be best for the children.  I’m not going to address that here.  I am well aware that it is completely possible to do a great job parenting, either way.  And it is also completely possible to screw up your children, either way.  In my opinion, there is no standard for what is best for the children across the board.  What is best for children depends on who you are as a parent, who your children are and what they need, and what your particular options are for meeting those needs.  I have my ideas about what I expect will be right for my children and my family, and you can probably infer them.  But if I expect to make one choice, and when the time comes that is not right for me and my family, I’ll make another choice.  My only statement is that, if staying home with me is right for my children, I feel with all my heart and soul that it will be right for me!!!

I’m such a rambler…Again, BACK TO THE POINT!!!  If I knew that in, say, three years I would be finishing my last school year of teaching, pregnant, and ready to stay home with kids, would I choose a master’s?  What if it was only two years from now?  (…I really hate guessing my “life schedule”…)  More and more, yes, I think I would.  First of all, the programs I am looking at most seriously would not require me to incur more college debt.  Surprise of the week, for me!  But gaining more college debt and then requiring a possible husband’s income to pay it makes me uncomfortable about the whole process.  But I had assumed more debt would be inevitable.  Secondly, it’s possible that I would decide to return to work outside of the home when all my kids were in school.  Especially since my job would most likely allow me to share their schedule.  So depending on how many kids I have, I could only be staying home for five or ten years.  Plenty of good career years left after that, that’s for sure!!!  But let’s say I had lots of kids?  (You know the Duggar’s, from Discovery Health Channel shows, are pregnant with number 18?  Call me crazy, but I would love to be her!)  And I stay home to raise kids for years and years?  And after that, with, say, 18 kids, school-age though they may be, would I really be wanting to have a career on top of that?  Probably not.  So, if I earned a master’s, and then within a year or two stopped teaching forever, would I ever regret working toward a master’s? 

…No, I don’t think so.  For many reasons.  One, it would demonstrate to my children my own committment to education, which, as I said, is important to their educational success.  Two, if I really did homeschool, (yay!), I would be better prepared, just as I would be better prepared to teach in the classroom.  Three, personal accomplishment, life experience.  Anything I experience that makes me learn and grow as a person, before, during, or after raising children, is valuable.

Okay, I’m in!  (Tentatively, and purposing to think carefully and critically about my options over the next few weeks.)  So I guess it really was just the debt issue holding me back.

Let’s just think about this homeschooling thing for a minute.  A teacher, who loves her chosen career, who loves to be a mom, who gets to be her children’s teacher???  How incredibly awesome would the be?  To know the public education side of things, to have experience private education in my own childhood, and to follow them both with homeschooling???  That just sounds like the absolute epitome of fun!  It is my understanding that many homeschooling parents struggle through curriculums and materials, unsure of how or when to teach certain content, unsure of whether their children are accomplishing what they need to.  I have practically the opposite thought…You mean I get to choose my curriculum based on this particular kid?  You mean I can create curriculum and materials that work best for me and my kid?  You mean I can choose when to teach the water cycle and when to teach the planets?  You mean, in the middle of my school day while my students are playing outside in my own backyard, I can go swiff the bathroom if I want to???  Haha, sorry, I had to add the last one!  🙂  I can’t even think about the pros and cons based upon what is best for the children, because it sounds like so much fun for me!!!  Hopefully when I have children I’ll be able to look past that and truly make a choice based on what is best for my family, even if it is not homeschooling.  🙂


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Betty
    May 11, 2008 @ 01:14:37

    in the early paragraphs or this entry, I was thinking I wanted to respond saying, “go for it–start the masters” then as I read “would not require me to incur more college debt” I wondered what is stopping you….Well, seems to me by the time I read to the end of this entry, you had it all figured out….so when do you begin?


  2. Doris
    May 12, 2008 @ 12:31:38

    Learning is one of the things in life you will never lose due to the economy or other people’s actions. Even if you use it to be the best mother in the world how could it be not worth it?


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