College Without Knowledge?Quality seems to be lacking in today’s education system. Oklahoma’s teachers struggle financially, as do the school systems themselves. This, in turn, translates to the low test scores seen across the state. Lack of funding and consolidations cause class sizes to skyrocket   from kindergarten to graduate school. These factors, among others, lead to students falling behind academically, unable to catch up once they’re lost. 

Higher education is not exempt from these pitfalls. Some classes require laboratory exercises, which may not be the best available depending on the location and funding of the facility. Other classes must be overfilled for the same reasons as in primary and secondary schools. Limited space, staff, and resources have necessitated classes be given online and via television. 

While these classes can be beneficial to some students, they are detrimental to students who have no background in the course material. Advanced math classes, for example, would be difficult for a student returning to college after several years. Likewise, college-level English classes would be trying for a student who lacks basic grammar skills, but through classroom interaction, the instructor could realize the need for further instruction. An online or ITV course would not offer the same attention. 

As evidenced in many recent studies, the number of students graduating from college without a solid education is increasing. Some would say this trend is a result of increased drug and alcohol use. Although the overuse of these substances may contribute, it is not the sole culprit of the downfall of higher education. As in all other areas of American society, money and location determine the success of many students’ college experiences.

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Imagine your doctor, your lawyer, your mayor, and your professors were all women. How would you feel? In modern society, most positions of authority and power are held by men. Female professionals are often belittled for their choices regarding their personal lives and sexually harassed   by male co-workers. Many working women are viewed as hostile and cold, especially those with many achievements. Whether or not we acknowledge these stereotypes, they affect our expectations of men and women, especially professionals, every day. 

Diversity in communication styles within each gender group further intensifies the gap between male and female. In mixed gender settings, men tend to talk more than women. Men are more likely to interrupt another speaker, but when women do interrupt, they are more likely to interrupt another woman than a man. Women also allow for more interruption than men. In a study of trial witnesses in a superior court, undergraduate student observers saw witnesses, whether male or female who used powerful language as being “more competent, intelligent, and trustworthy” (Vanfossen). Gender bias in the law profession begins within the courtroom. 

Demeaning speech and attitudes toward female attorneys and litigants are far too common in today’s justice system. The biases go too far, however, when judgments are made based on these stereotypes. Clouded judgments have scarred the lives of many Americans. For example, gender stereotypes often play a significant role in the division of property upon divorce. Unfortunately, a decision that seems “fair to the judge may actually be a poverty sentence for the party who has not consistently, if at all, worked outside the home” (McCurley 3). 

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Sylvia Plath began her life in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts on October 27, 1932. In Sylvia’s childhood, her father, Otto, died after an untreated case of diabetes. His suffering and prolonged illness scared the young Sylvia and heavily influenced her views of men in her life. Her distorted perception of the roles of men and women became the force behind her work, and later, the cause of her demise. 

Sylvia was an excellent student, and was accepted to Smith College on a scholarship in 1950. She tried to appear happy outwardly, but her reality was depression and thoughts of suicide. She was institutionalized after an attempted suicide in 1953 at Maclean Hospital. In 1955, Sylvia attended Newnham College at Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship. There she met Ted Hughes at a party in February 1956. They were married four months later in London. Soon after their honeymoon in Spain, Sylvia took a teaching position at Smith College, where she had studied a few years before. After a year of failure, in Sylvia’s view, she began to secretly see her therapist from her hospitalization at Maclean, Ruth Boucher. 

In 1959, Sylvia and Ted returned to England, as Sylvia was pregnant and due to give birth the following spring. During her pregnancy, she went under contract with William Heinemann Ltd. to publish The Colossus. A miscarriage the next year worsened Sylvia’s depression. In August 1961, the little family moved to a Devon farm, further isolating Sylvia, especially from Ted. Their second child, a son, was born in January of 1962. In July of that year, Sylvia discovered Ted’s affair with Assia Wevill. In September, Sylvia and Ted separated. By December, Sylvia and the children had moved into an apartment at 23 Fitzroy Road, the former home of William Butler Yeats. The Bell Jar was published under the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas in 1963. Then, on February 11, 1963, Sylvia committed suicide, killing herself by putting her head in a gas oven.

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In the late 1620s, a young Englishwoman sailed for America with her parents and husband. They landed at the Massachusetts Bay Colony, America’s Puritan settlement. Through her struggle with her new life straining to build a home and raise a family in a new country, Anne Bradstreet emerged as the New World’s first female poet. 

Puritan doctrine repressed those who followed it, leading to a cultural bias toward women, as well as the belief that a woman’s proper place was at home with her children. Women of this time were considered intellectual inferiors, even outside the Puritan religion. Puritan Law dictated love between spouses must also be repressed, so as not to distract from their devotion to God. Bradstreet’s first book, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, was published without her knowledge by her brother-in-law in 1650... Critics of the time accused Bradstreet of stealing her ideas for poems from men. Many thought she was neglecting her duties as a Puritan woman by writing. In attempt to dispel rumors to that effect, her brother-in-law added “By a Gentle Woman in Those Parts,” to the title page. This was meant to affirm she did not shirk her home and wifely duties to write. Bradstreet shows her anger for these criticisms in The Prologue: 

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue 
Who says my hand a needle better fits; 
A poet's pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
For such despite they cast on female wits.
If what I do prove well, it won't advance;
They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance. 

I can relate to some of Bradstreet’s work, as a wife and mother myself, though the Puritan beliefs are far removed from my own. Bradstreet was not afraid to show her emotions, though it was not condoned in her religion. As a Puritan woman, she tended to stay within the socially acceptable topics such as her husband, her children, and God. One of the poems in her first book To My Dear and Loving Husband shows her style quite well:

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