Myths: Education and Family

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Interpreting and understanding myths depend on an individual’s personal views, beliefs, and ideas. With that in mind, the myth regarding the nuclear family and the myth of education and empowerment are all interpreted differently and argued, for and against, in many ways. Both have been perceived negatively by society, yet they have not always been a harmful folktale. Rather, the myth that education can improve someone’s life has been used, year after year, to motivate the youth in order to improve their own personal lifestyle. The myth of the nuclear family has also been used over and over again by the media as a prospective goal for everyone who wants to start a family. Although the passing of time has changed the perception of both myths throughout our society, to many, including myself, these myths continue to provide hope for a better life and a traditional family. Imposing the myth of the ideal family, which the media depicts as white, semi-rich and happy with “…no rifts…” (Soto 29) is what negatively impacts society because no one should set a standard on what a family should be like. As a result of this misconception, the ideal family has become the ultimate goal for couples who want the best for their children. Take Gary Soto’s “Looking for Work,” and picture an eight year old Mexican-American boy, who felt the need to change his family because he wanted them to act like the white families portrayed in television shows, like Leave it to Beaver. Why do these individuals have the need to create “the perfect family” portrayed by the media? According to Soto, as a child, he “…tried to convince [his family] that if [they] improved the way [they] looked [they] might get along better in life… White people would like [them] more… [White people] might not hate [them] so much” (30). Although the myth of the family has been attributed negative qualities because it creates a false sense of reality, it has, for many years, been the underlying reason why couples start a family of their own. For instance, if a couple could not decide on the number of children, they could turn to the myth and consider starting with two because the myth implies that an ideal family consists of “…Dad, Mom, a couple of kids, maybe a dog, [living in] a spacious suburban home…” (Colombo et al. 18). Even though society has accepted the meaning of family to be between a man and a woman, moreover, it is evident that in the America of today there are families composed of same-sex couples. The myth however, was not created to incorporate same-sex couples as part of the definition, as it is explicitly described in page 18 of “Harmony at Home:” …the traditional vision of the ideal nuclear family-Dad, Mom…remains surprisingly strong.”This myth has become so ingrained in society that even after the idea of the nuclear family still receives extensive support. Even the famous archaeologist, Margaret Mead, commented on the belief of the ideal nuclear family “As far back as our knowledge takes us, human beings have lived in families. We know of no period where this was not so. We know of no people who have succeeded for long in dissolving the family or displacing it…” (New World Encyclopedia). Similar to the myth of the nuclear family, the myth of education and empowerment introduces two different sides of the spectrum- the idea that education is not for everyone, as seen by John Taylor Gatto in “Against School,” and the idea that education does improve someone’s life, as seen by Malcolm X in “Learning to Read.” The literal interpretation of the myth shows education as a symbol of success and as the gateway to fulfill the American dream (Colombo et al. 111). Education, moreover, has not always been perceived negatively by society because to many people education represents social mobility and a shot for a better life. While there may be some frustration with the educational system, education, according to the myth, will always serve those who seek to better...
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