Wednesday, 3 July 2013

New beginnings

Me again.

This week my eldest daughter went to meet her first school teacher. My little Ellie all grown up and starting school in September, a difficult fact to come to terms with since it doesn’t seem like yesterday when I was holding her in my arms, a little red and wrinkled bundle, and wondering how on earth one actually went about looking after a baby.
Too excited to wait till September.
She’s full of what she’s going to be when she’s grown up. Sometimes her aims don’t seem terribly ambitious and include when she’s grown up she’s going to go to the park, but I wish her success in all of them. And this is the time that will define her, initially at least. I always enjoyed mathematics and science at school, and for me, it seemed natural to focus that way any time the opportunity arose. Now it seems a little odd that I did.

With a more than full time job looking after my tribe of small children and babies, I seldom have cause to bring out my scientific knowledge or impress the girls with my skills in calculus. So do I regret choosing science, especially when I now enjoy English and History so much?

Lovely lovely calculus, I miss you.

The answer is I don’t know. I know I enjoyed the journey and I certainly don’t regret the life I’ve led. It’s all been fun and I wouldn’t have the life I have now if I hadn’t. But would another path been better?

Well, it just seemed at the time that maths and sciences were proper job-like subjects, subjects that challenged your mind with clear problems to solve and the other subjects were for just fun. And that’s the bit I had wrong.

In Meg McNulty’s other life, she blogs about superwomen, and in particular about how television and advertising encourage young girls to be Barbie wives, doting mothers and little else, and how we need better role models.
If only my eyelashes could look this good.
I don’t ever remember paying attention to those Barbie figure role models. Instead I marched along to the ‘girls for science’ bandwagon. In a way, I think the feminists promoting those careers were every bit as bad as the Barbies. They disparaged non-professional careers to the point that if you were good at science/mathematics you were terrible for throwing away your opportunities if you didn’t pursue it.
Alright, maybe the girls for science bandwagon wasn't quite this cool looking.
So what kind of role model do I want to be to my young family? What do I want them to grow up to be? 

Obviously, whatever they want. But I want them to view all the subjects equally, so see the challenges and complexities in each, to think of career as the interaction with others and not just as an academic pursuit. But for now, I want my eldest to play in the sandpit, learn to read her first book and to paint and come back home with her school uniform splattered with gay abandonment. Just like I did. Sorry mum.
You just know this is going to end up right in the middle of her school uniform...

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  1. Awww. The first day of school. I wasn't sure who was more scared, me or him. And you know, when I was in college, I majored in psychology. Never graduated, but looking back now, I really wish I'd gone for an English major. My life took such a dramatic turn. Funny life has a way of doing that. I don't regret my choices, either. I like where I've ended up.

    And I agree. I just wanted my kids to be happy. To choose what makes them happy. Mine happen to be good at computers.

    Good luck with school! :)

  2. Oh kids, they make you re-think every move you made - and everything you do!!! I'm hoping schools are a bit less narrowly focussed these days - I was very much into reading and writing - and surprise - I ended up in publishing and rather maths phobic!! I hope your little on enjoys school - that's the most important thing after all.

  3. What a fantastic blog post - and I so agree! I want my daughter to be open minded, balanced and happy and to enjoy what she does. I regret the science and maths teaching in my school was so crap because now I'm an adult I'm fascinated by science (in fact I've spent the last seven years fundraising for it). I resented that you had to choose between history and geography and that you couldn't do both. I'm very careful not to say things like "Oh I was always crap at that" (even if I was) in front of my 5 YO because sponge-like she wants to be just like me at the moment. Instead I'm trying to introduce her to a range of things and more than anything, learn how to be happy.

  4. I have to admit, although I am curious now what would have happened if I had taken english and history instead of physics and maths (or perhaps biology), the subjects weren't well taught at my school at A level. (Very few people actually got a pass from memory) so maybe the option wasn't really there after all.

    And I know what you mean about the 'i can't do it' or even worse, 'I can't try...' I hate to hear my daughters say that, it's like waving a red flag at me. I want them to feel confident enough to try anything and everything!