Monday, November 12, 2007

Bringing Back the M.R.S. Degree?

The Nashua [NH] Telegraph had an interesting article yesterday on the new Homemaking major offered by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX.

To earn this degree, students must complete the following courses:
  • Orientation to Homemaking
  • The Value of a Child
  • Basics of Apparel Design
  • Clothing Construction w/lab
  • Biblical Model for the Home & Family
  • Nutrition
  • Meal Preparation w/lab
  • Homemaking Practicum
  • Senior Seminar
These may be useful things for homemakers to know, but they're not exactly college-level academics. Southwestern charges a tuition of $198/hr for active members of the Southern Baptist church and $396/hr for others. Why not just go to the local Parks & Rec cooking or sewing class for a fraction of the cost?

To be fair, these electives are in addition to the standard humanities courses in history, literature, Classical language, and theology. So it's not a completely "fluffy" degree. But I couldn't help wondering why the parents of the women are willing to foot the bill for their daughters to spend 20% of their college time taking non-academic courses.

Southwestern president Paige Patterson said that his goal in starting the homemaking major is "equipping [the women] to do homeschooling." If that's the case, why aren't they enrolled in the Christian Education major? The required courses for that degree seem both significantly more intellectually rigorous and relevant to future home educators:
  • History and Philosophy of Education
  • Introduction to Christian Education
  • Theology and Education
  • Principles and Methods of Teaching
  • Master Teacher
Let me be clear that I have nothing against women embracing a traditional homemaker role. Raising children and running a household is very valuable work & our society's attitude towards those who have chosen family over career is shameful. But a college degree in homemaking frankly strikes me as a waste of the student's time & her family's money.

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