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But I Want Her To Go To Yale

alec vanderboom

Yesterday was the open house for the parish Catholic school we'd like Hannah to attend next year. This issue of finding the "right fit" in a major Metropolitan City has my entrails tied in knots. My parents and my husband's parents simply sent us to the local public school up the street. The choices for our kids are overwhelming without adding clarity to the "right fit" part.

We'd hyped the benefits of this school for so long, the actual Open House ended up as a bit of a disappointment for me. After getting all three kids pinned into their car seats, I asked my husband "So list the good points you noticed and then the bad points."

"What bad points?" he answered. After a brief discussion we arrived at the parking lot of Jon's work. As we traded places in the drivers seat, he leaned over to kiss me. Then he said brightly "there's nothing much to worry about, after all we don't want to send Hannah to Yale!"

My stomach turned. "But I want her to go to Yale."

I have such lovely memories of Yale: the neat quadrangles, the fantastic college sailing course, the Yalies I debated against in APDA rounds.

There is a saying going around homeschooling sites which says "educating for heaven not Harvard." I have issues with this. My concerns against Harvard are the amount of TAs that teach undergraduate courses, not a bias against ivy league education in general. I like Yale, and Williams, and Swarthmore, and of course, Smith. I'd be happy if Hannah chose to stick closer to home at Catholic University, or skip college all together to pursue a dance career in NYC at age 18. College is her choice. My role is to insure that her talents have time to develop into a solid foundation for wherever God's plans will take her. Still, I have issues with the assumption that the path of a serious scholar is not also a path to Heaven.

Catholicism is the one religion that fully engages both my intellect and my heart. I'm invited to ponder the most difficult theological thinkers and also enter happily into mysteries which are beyond my understanding. I personally need both. I need the challenging Catholic writers, St. John of the Cross, and the tangible kindness of my Catholic choir director. (My cure for the lonely futility of the Catholic housewife last Friday was to engage in a literary criticism of "On the Road.") I can't imagine my life without my finely tuned love of reading. That type of love is less likely to be inspired by hanging out in kindergarten with "leap frog" learning stations.

I'm sure this present dilemma of kindergarten; public, French immersion, Catholic, or homeschooling, will resolve itself by February. My discomfort with the "anti-intellectualism" in some Catholic circles will remain.

Such is the lot of a girl in the middle of the working mom's cultural debate. A mother with a huge educational loan debt who is still happy that her "useless" graduate school education enables her to cheerfully stay-home and serve as the primary teacher for three small souls.