Thoughts on “Back to School”

Or My Mom is Awesome

When I was in seminary, many of my classmates were married men.  I know that’s surprising: married men in seminary…  One semester I took a crazy class load, participated in student government, and worked two part-time jobs.  I thought I was going to blow up into tiny little pieces if one more thing got added to my juggling act.  My classmate Rob chose that time to tell me all the things his stay-at-home wife did to help him with school.  He had a long commute each day, so she read his reading assignments into a recording device so he could listen as he drove.  She helped him do research for his papers.  He recorded lectures and she listened to them so they could discuss them later.  She helped him any way she could.  The other guys who were listening proceeded to tell me the nice things their wives did to help them with school.  This news prompted me to say, in total frustration, “I need a wife!”  or an assistant, anyway… 

I called my mom and told her all about it, because she’s the one who seems to understand the most when I have some complainin’ to do.  Amazingly, my mother reminded me that she had done the same types of things for my dad while he was in seminary.  While I muttered under my breath about how men wouldn’t survive in this world without women, my mom said something to add to my amazement.  She told me she would help me.  With the wonder of technology, I emailed my assignment to her along with all the various parts, and she organized it beautifully.  (The work was already done, but the formatting and organization would’ve taken me hours.)  It was one project, but that help kept me sane.   My mom’s willingness to break from her own busy schedule to help me also helped me feel God’s arms of love around me, hearing even my silliest request for “a wife.” 

Side note here – of course I actually want a husband, but I don’t know that I’ve ever met a man who would help out his wife in the way these wives helped their husbands.  I’m not making any kind of lifestyle confession here!  I still love men. 

Recently, some friends and I were chatting over coffee and it came up that their parents had taken very little interest in their education.  None of their parents helped them with homework assignments or things they didn’t understand.  Shocked, I thought back on all the times my mother stayed up late to help me figure out a complicated math concept, quiz me on vocabulary words, edit my papers for grammatical errors, and make sure I understood concepts from my science or history books.  I never thought much about it.  In fact, I often resented her and yelled at her in frustration over my own lack of ability to understand something.  Even though I took her for granted, she always helped me out.  She wasn’t the kind of mom who did my projects for me, but she figured out how to help me learn for myself when others couldn’t teach me – no matter how tired or sick or frustrated she was herself. 

After that conversation, I did an informal poll and asked my friends if their parents helped them in school.  To my surprise, it took a while to find anyone who said yes.  Even those who said yes said the help they received was very limited.  And since many of my friends are already parents, that leads me to a further question – do you plan to help your children with their school work?  One of my friends already helps her children, another is planning to when they get into school, and another hadn’t really thought much about it. 

I think educating children is one of the most important tasks of a parent.  Whether the parent is a home-schooler or if the child has 8 different teachers at school, teaching begins at home.  My mom used to give me a spelling test the night before the actual spelling test.  Every word I missed, she had me write five times.  Then I was re-tested on those words.  The process repeated itself until I could correctly spell every single word.  I rarely made less than 100% on spelling tests.  It was pretty hard not to succeed with that kind of support.  And as an adult when I find a word that I repeatedly mis-spell, guess what I do?  Yup.  Write it five times and repeat until I get it right.  She taught me life skills as well as study skills. 

With the start of the new school year, I encourage you parents to help your kids study and learn along with them.  If there’s a subject you aren’t good in, try your best to keep up with your child’s learning so you can continue to help them as they get further along in the work.  Education is so important!  Especially the education we receive at home.  Make your home an environment of learning and you will set your children up for success in the future.  What a beautiful gift you can give your children!

P.S.  My dad is a master teacher and did much to educate me too.  He left the school work to Mom, but he taught me leadership and management principles, stage presence, how to work with difficult people, how to ski, how to play basketball, how to explore a cave or a river, and so much more.  I have truly been blessed.

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, teach these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”   -2 Timothy 2:2


Filed under My Crazy Family

12 responses to “Thoughts on “Back to School”

  1. Tammy

    Wow. seminary must be different from other places. in both my nursing school and currently in my MBA program, if someone else wrote my papers and they found out, I would be disciplined for cheating.

    I can see helping with housework, cooking, childcare, getting an extra job — as appropriate roles for a supportive spouse. but the person getting the degree ought to do the work for the degree. we get a little lecture at the beginning of each semester about all of this.

    • kimberlywenger

      Are you kidding, Tammy? I did NOT say anyone wrote papers for me or for anyone else. One guy’s wife helped him with research and helped him get the reading done in a way that worked for him (listening to it in the car). My mom helped me organize a group project where six different people turned in their info in six different formats and it all had to flow together stylistically for a good grade. Other guys got help from their spouses in just the things you mentioned: running errands for them and stuff like that. I’m certainly not talking about cheating! I’m hurt that you’d even think that of me.

  2. teresa

    I’m just finishing up homeschooling the third of our kids. I don’t even want to think about how many years we’ve been doing this, but hope that as our kids look back, they felt it was a positive experience. I always enjoyed helping them with their work and seeing them learn.

    As much as I enjoyed homeschooling, I am looking forward to Cole graduating, but also will be available to help him in any way he needs with his future educational endeavors.

  3. Unless it is a group project the student should be expected to do ALL their own work, start to finish.

    Formatting and organizing are all part of the process of learning.

    • kimberlywenger

      Thanks for reading and responding, Bruce. I had no idea that this post would be even slightly controversial. I disagree that in graduate school it’s necessary for each student to do all of their own formatting for every single paper and project they do. When you’re at the end of the term and turning in 5 final papers and 5 group projects, it’s not a learning thing to make sure all the font types and sizes are correct and your page numbers are where they need to be. You’ve had to do plenty of that to get to that point. The point is the information you’ve absorbed, your ability to present it comprehensively and make a compelling argument, and follow directions. From your viewpoint, it sounds like it’s wrong to have someone edit for grammatical errors too. I was the sole writer of every single on of my assignments in school, but I was grateful for any help I could get with handling the stuff that anyone can do. Doctoral students hire research assistants all the time and are never accussed of cheating for it.

  4. teresa

    Thought I should make it clear that I didn’t mean to indicate that I ‘did’ my kid’s schoolwork for them. Helping them study is one thing, doing the work is another.

    • kimberlywenger

      Thanks for reading and responding, Teresa. I tend to forget that you have Cole because he’s so much younger than Leah and Ian (like Adam)! I’m sure he appreciates all the hard work, time, and attention you gave him during his school years.

  5. tammy

    i didn’t mean to hurt you. i’m just being honest.

    if what you are describing is that your mom simply typed an already written paper, that’s different. grad students hire people to do that all the time. but if she wrote parts of the paper, then to me that’s wrong. that’s how i understood your post.

    • kimberlywenger

      Tammy, what I’m describing is equivalent to having someone type your paper for you with today’s technology. Every bit of content was provided by students. Mom would’ve had to do a semester’s worth of research and classroom hours, as we did, to be able to add to the content of the project.

  6. It’s so much fun to see dialog like this. If I could add some comments on the subject….my girls got a lot of help from their mom which I disagreed with because in the HS level they should be learning the stuff not getting it done for them.
    My parents helped with memory type drilling but I learned quickly to not ask them, I usually ended up getting yelled at mostly from my dad because my German was horrible.( and still is, aber das macht nichts)

  7. Leslie

    I love you, Kimberly! You are so gracious!

  8. Pingback: Sex Sells? « Kimberly Wenger’s Blog

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