Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J.; Hirsch, Jennifer / Women on campus in the eighties : old struggles, new victories
Reedy, Elizabeth K.
Chapter 2: Meeting the needs of disadvantaged women: the single parent self-sufficiency program, pp. 11-16
What We Have Learned Lots. We know that whatever the modifications we've made, we started out on the right foot. We've learned quite a bit about the obstacles women like our students face when they try to change their lives in major ways. We've learned that what happens to our students in the program causes significant changes in their children, that when our students have to study and write papers for class, their children see them as models and take their own studies more seriously (sometimes the older children come with their parents to the preparatory mod- ules sessions, especially the math classes). We think that what we do can make quite a difference in the attrition rate of nontraditional students who enroll as reg- ular students. We are learning a lot about the importance of helping students to understand how they learn and why they can rely on their own abilities. On the other hand, we learn again and again that values, expectations, and habits that took years and years to develop cannot be changed in the course of a few weeks or months. We've learned that we don't cause what happens to the students in our pro- gram; they do. We don't "teach" them; we don't "enable" them. They are per- fectly able themselves. We do set up situations-opportunities and an atmos- phere-to which they respond. We offer respect and trust. We know that if our students are to gain any lasting self-respect and self-confidence, they must see that what has happened to them, how they have been treated, is not simply the consequence of their own weaknesses or deficiencies. They must understand that none of us lives as an individual apart from the effects of our society and commu- nity, that the tribulations associated with being on AFDC-or the benefits associ- ated with a Ph.D. from Yale-may stem from community attitudes and choices. If, in other words, they are uncertain about their self-respect, it may be in part because the community treats them as though they are not respectable. Each of our students comes initially alone, nervous, and often fearful. Each who stays chooses to act, to think, to speak-and in so doing, finds shared expe- riences and knowledge. The courage to respond creates both relationships with others and self-reliance. As we act responsibly toward ourselves, we learn to trust ourselves; as we perceive our inextricable relationships with other people and the natural world, we recognize a larger kind of wholeness, a more complex kind of integrity. Only within that totality does the self, finally, find sufficiency. 16
Copyright 1993 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright