Bring Back Home Economics Classes in School

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I’ve been thinking how kids these days don’t know the basics of home keeping.

I mean, they don’t know how to cook (microwaving Bagel Bites doesn’t count), hem a pair of pants (duck tape, anyone?) or know the difference between an incandescent and a CFL lightbulb (incandescent lightbulbs will be phased out and I can see kids frantically looking for them all over town, thinking, “how can all the stores be out of them?”)

This question reminds me of the book I reviewed, “How to Sew a Button” by Erin Bried, in which the author baked a pie, using a wrong key ingredient, totally ruining it. After that embarrassing moment, she recognized how she knew nothing about basic things in life that her grandmother knew, like how to sew a button. And she wondered ‘why’?

I know the reason why.

There are no “Home Economics” classes in schools anymore

My kids never had them. And I assume they are not the only ones in the country that didn’t have a choice. Oh, mind you, my DD takes Yoga and Taichi at school, which I’m thrilled about, but they aren’t Home Ec. Nope. I had to teach her how to hand-stitch a tear in her shirt (ok, so it looked more like a spider web made its way into the tear but at least she knows the concept now) and I taught my son how to sew a button before sending him off  to college with a sewing kit I put together in an Altoid tin. Have you ever try finding a gender neutral colored sewing kit? Doesn’t exist. 

Granted, I didn’t learn everything I know about home keeping from Home Ec when I had it in Middle School but the class taught me to think about life in a different light. I learned how to make Engish Muffin Bagels. I also learned the difference between a fluid oz. and a weight oz. I learned how to follow recipes. I already knew how to sew but learned how to use a pattern to sew. I made a skirt, a vest and a shirt using Simplicity sewing patterns. Not only did I learn, my brothers also learned how to sew and cook since they had to take Home Ec too back then. They also took woodworking and ceramics.

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It seems to me, the emphasis on taking tests, raising test scores for English and math along with trying to emphasize sciences that they have replaced the teachings of fundamentals of how to live in schools. The theoretical teachings of life sciences have pushed out sciences of actual living. Yes, we need more scientists and mathematicians. Yes, we need more engineers and researchers. And yes, we need more teachers and doctors. But when these smart successful young men and women grow up in a society where they know nothing to take care of themselves, what kind of environment are we going to be left with? Our kids will need to make so much money to hire people to do the basic fundamental chores like cooking, cleaning, mending clothes to changing light bulbs. Our resources will be depleted and our kids will not know the basics on how to live with minimal. They will not know how to cook from scratch and avoid processed foods. They will continue to buy cheap clothes because they don’t know how to mend the old ones.

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Won’t kids live greener lives if they took Home Economics in schools?

I know we, the parents, have the responsibility to teach our kids but how many of you know enough to teach your kids? How many of your kids are willing to learn from you? I know, ultimately, it’s up to us to teach and nurture our kids and believe me, I’m not one to leave it to schools to teach them everything but don’t they have the responsibility to introduce concepts that we received when we went to school? Did Home Ec changed so much that it’s not teachable anymore? Is computer science more important than learning how to survive?

I’m preparing to explore this issue further so I wanted to open up the conversation and hear your opinion.

  • What do you think? Do you think lack of Home Economics classes in schools have changed the way we live today?
  • Don’t you think if people had taken Home Ec, they would live greener lives?
  • Did you take Home Ec? If you didn’t, do you wish you had?

Second Image: Smithsonian via Flickr
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