Miss Possible: Overcoming the Self-Imposed Barriers to Education

Trafalgar Square

The only thing better than education is more education.

– Agnes E. Benedict

I just completed my first online course, Computer Science 101. When I found out Stanford University offers the course free, I couldn’t say no. The course covered very basic information about coding, spreadsheets, networking, and computer security.

I am now planning to take as many free courses online as I can. I have just signed up for the “How to Learn Math” course from Stanford, and four courses on Coursera.

Education is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and a great way to show love. If I ask my husband the question, “What would you do if you had a billion dollars?” His answer is never buy a house or never work again, but always, “I’d learn everything I can. Take every class on every topic–become a Renaissance Man.”

I have always admired that about him, his desire to learn and do something new. He has been a wedding photographer, graphic designer, a reupholsterer, a DIYer, a chef, a painter, an artist, and a computer programmer. He inspires me.

You know who else inspires me? Other women, like the two above who are creating dolls like Marie Curie or this commercial. How different would my life be if instead of getting Barbies and baby dolls, I would have received engineering toys? Growing up, I always preferred boy’s toys to girl’s. What if there was no distinction between the two? Boys could play with dolls and girls with legos or vice versa.

From the time I can remember, I believed, truly believed, that girls are just bad at math and science (something in our brain or in the extra X chromosome?), so whenever the subjects came up in school, I had an excuse not to excel. I excelled in every other subject, but math and science, I threw my hands in the air because, you know, I’m a girl.

Thinking about this, I started to feel bad about the missed opportunities. How I chose English instead of computers in college when I had a passion for HTML and CSS. English was amazing and opened so many doors for learning, but I could have excelled in computers as well.

I may not be a little girl any more. I may not be a college student with an opportunity to choose any major I want, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop learning. I don’t have to feel bad, but remember that I can learn until I die. I hope that even when I’m 90, I’ll be reading and keeping up with the ever-changing technological world, maybe playing the newest video game.

Education knows no age or gender, so maybe instead of spending an hour on Pinterest, I can spend an hour on Coursera, or better yet, close my computer and open a book (gasp!).



Capris, Feminism, and the Dick Van Dyke Show

If I could dress like anyone (and not look like I stepped out of the 1912), I would love to dress like Mary Tyler Moore from The Dick Van Dyke Show. I love her classic pairing of capris and flats. There’s something about the look that is so feminine and yet so feminist.

In fact, at the time Mary Tyler Moore’s look was almost scandalous. So scandalous that she was only allowed to wear pants once per episode.

I’ve watched the entire series one and a half times (and will probably watch it again), and was surprised and fascinated by the treatment of women. What’s most surprising is that the show was one of the more progressive in the early 1960s. After all, there’s an episode dedicated entirely to Laura (Mary’s character) dancing for Rob’s show for a week. The Petrie household goes to ruin and all because the mother is not in the home. Remembering this episode, you’ll understand why it was hard for me to believe that this show was considered “feminist.”

Rose Marie

Then again, the other lead female character, Sally, is a strong working woman who can hold her own with her male counterparts. Of course, Sally must be single and always failing in relationships, but she was a working woman, which was a rare sight in television during the early sixties.

The 1960s was an interesting time period, made more interesting by Madmen, but that’s a topic for another blogpost. Suffice it to say, I want to dress like the glamorous Mary Tyler Moore. If you know of any vintage capris I can get my hands on, send them my way.