EDU 505 Blog Post #2, or “Why being a poor mom in school is harder than it seems.”
We spent a lot of time these past couple of weeks talking about economic and demographic trends in education and, amusingly enough, it was something my mother talked about (albeit in a roundabout way) shortly thereafter. We were talking politics (something I try REALLY HARD not to discuss with my mother, as we’re on two opposite ends of the political spectrum), and the topic of education and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” (a phrase I LOATHE) came up. Like always happens in an Italian household on major holidays, this caused an argument. There are things I won’t bring up with my mother, both out of respect for her and out of a severe dislike for confrontation. However, since it connected to our work the past few weeks, I don’t mind talking about it here.
My mother went back to school when I was four to be a nurse. She graduated when I was 8. She was lucky–she was, technically, a single mom that entire time, working part time trying to make ends meet–but my father and my grandparents happily took me whenever she needed to study, go to work or class, or later, when she was doing her clinicals. That last year? She had me two days a week, with my grandparents and my father splitting the other five among themselves. And my mother managed to make it work. She graduated with honors from Quinnipiac with her associate’s in nursing, and in more recent years has gone back for her RN to BSN and later her master’s in nursing as well.
Why does this matter, I’m sure you’re asking right about now. It matters, because my mother was able to find reliable, safe, flexible child care whenever she needed without worrying about money. My mother was able to be a single parent and still work and go to school. Were we poor? Apparently, though between all of them I never knew it until I was an adult. Was it difficult for her? Probably, but not nearly as difficult as it is for the millions of single, low-income parents out there who want to better themselves but can’t because they don’t have reliable, safe, cheap child care. They don’t have the ability to get to class consistently. They might not have the time to study, or get homework done in silence, because they’re too busy going to work, coming home, helping their kids with their homework, making dinner, cleaning up, and putting their kids to bed. That’s a lot of work–work that (while I have all faith that my mother would’ve figured it out, because she’s nothing if not tenacious) I’m not entirely certain my mother would’ve been able to do on her own without all the help she had.
Which is why our conversation bothered me. It’s difficult to realize that your parents are so diametrically opposed to your views, even when you feel like they should be on the same side, given their struggles. My mother was that low-income single parent–the difference (and what has apparently made all the difference) is that my mother is white. At Post, the impression I get as an admissions counselor is that most of the students are low-income students. It’s a fact that well over half of enrolled students at Post are minorities, and it’s a fact that less than 50% of minority students finish a bachelor’s degree in six years, versus almost 70% for whites (Carey, 2008). That’s….a ridiculous number, and it speaks to the immense racial disparity that exists in the United States right now.
I know that I’m generally more humorous in my postings, but this is too big of an issue to joke about. I know that this is a point I’ve harped on in my class, but it’s a point that bears repeating, especially as my mother’s generation gets further out of touch with their pasts. Lower-income students need more support from their chosen universities. They need more support from us–period.
Maybe that support is through support services within the university. Maybe that support is from the government by way of social services. Maybe that support is some combination of both.But the fact remains that our low-income students need us–and we’re failing them. And THAT is unacceptable.
^THIS^ is how it’s done.
For a list of scholarships for single mothers, here is a great list to help you narrow down the search. You CAN do it–I believe in you.
EDU505 Blog Post # 1, or “Well, this is drastically different, isn’t it?”
Up to this point in my graduate education here at Post, I’ve been focusing specifically on online education and learning, as that’s what my grad certificate was in. Now that I’ve started on the M.Ed. program, I’m learning more about something called “futuring.” Futuring, for the record, is essentially when one looks at past events to predict and plan for future ones. At least, that’s the best as I can figure.
Throughout the first half of the class, there’s been a lot of focus on futuring and its role in education. To be fair, it seems like a terrific idea–read about current trends, analyze what they mean for future trends, develop a number of ideas about what could happen in the future, and plan for them–that’s futuring in a nutshell (Sobrero, 2004). Indeed, our final project for this class is to develop a Future Vision of Education Case Study; that is, identify what our personal utopian ideal is for our educational institution, and plan for how to get there. Which, of course, left me scratching my head a little bit. How, exactly, do I do that? So I turned to my academic success counselor Mike (who, and I could never say this enough, is absolutely amazing), and I asked him.
Now, let me pause here for a moment and say that I also teach here, and one of my biggest pet peeves, and biggest issues, is that some students come to me completely unprepared. Unprofessional writing, text speak, horrible grammar and spelling, improper APA format–and while I teach a lower level course, it’s not one of the first the students take, so by the time they get to me, at least *some* of this should be second nature. I shouldn’t have to tell them how to properly cite APA format. I shouldn’t have to tell them that using text speak is inappropriate in a college classroom.
So when Mike asked me what the future of my classroom and my students looked like, I told him. And from there, my future vision was born. And I could build a solid future vision case study from this; indeed, I will do exactly that, because at the end of the day, it’s necessary.
I was all sold to write this post based solely on the idea of futuring and how vital it is to the goals and plans of higher education. As I was researching, though, I found an article written a couple of days ago on Inside Higher Ed, an online source for news, jobs, and opinions on higher education (About Us: Inside Higher Ed, n.d.). This article talked about how the future of the future of higher education maybe doesn’t quite do what we think, or want, it to do. The author claims that the futuring of higher education usually goes one of two ways–it either takes “the next big thing” and expand from the inside out, or take the “next big thing” and embed it within the structure from the outside in (Butin, 2015). Butin (2015) uses the University of Florida’s failed attempt to put its traditional model onto an online platform as an example of the first path, and Minerva, a for-profit startup that looks like it sends students around the world to learn, as the second path. He argues, though, that the vision is never about the actual education, but more about the technology–and I can’t honestly say he’s wrong.
If you think about it, everything we’ve done so far in the course regarding futuring includes the use of technology to improve it, regardless of what’s wrong with it. Is that truly what we want for future students? A future full of technology but broken education? I certainly don’t want that. But what’s the alternative? Butin (2015) argues that the way to see a more realistic future is twofold–envision how technology can make the present better for the vast majority of current students, and accept that digital learning technologies are better at transmitting information which, he argues, would require a drastic rethinking of what faculty do, of what and how students learn, and what we want them to accomplish.
Can we do it? I like to think so.
About Us: Inside Higher Ed. (n.d.). Retrieved from Inside Higher Ed:
Butin, D. (2015, November 9). The Future of the Future of Higher Education. Higher Ed Beta.
Sobrero, P. (2004). The Steps for Futuring. Journal of Extension, 42(3). Retrieved from