As I grow closer and closer to my 20-year high school reunion, I reminisce about the flurry of classes that have actually stuck around with me from then until now in my early 30’s. Seldom are the days where solving math problems with technical equations (that still make little to no sense to me), swoop in to save my average adulting days.
Then there was home economics, or with its updated name, Family and Consumer Sciences. Those classes had a whole heck of a lot to offer! Perhaps as a female, I sound biased, but I happened to love the classes that taught me the basics of modern survival. Baking simple oddities, taking care of pseudo baby dolls, sewing and patching holes in clothing, and my favorite- doing laundry. Home economics taught the tools to take care of ourselves and our future families. I may not have understood then, but guys and girls alike would benefit greatly from the basic tasks learned in those courses. So why is it that these courses seem to be fading from school curriculums?
Skills To Last A Lifetime
Perhaps the reasoning behind the course’s decline is due to it being considered a “regressive” idea that doesn’t have a place in the modern curriculum. Or maybe it’s due to schools being forced to focus on things like common core and proficiency-based learning with limited funding. But the debate remains – would having these classes offered for several years help teens to grow up to be more responsible and aware of how to take care of themselves rather than dependent upon others?
Of course English, history, and mathematics are important. But high school is a time where students are beginning to feel like adults and taking on more responsibility. Home economics did just that. It taught students about cooking, safety, and helped build healthy relationships with finances. What they learned in class would likely transfer into their home lives while allowing them to be savvy consumers.
For many, it seems as though the classes to teach these skill sets should be mandatory. Much like health education courses and physical education, learning basic life skills should be no different. It should go without saying that simple cooking methods, setting household budgets, and the ability to work with basic hand tools could prove beneficial. These skills prove invaluable for both men and women.
The ‘Modern Day’ Home Economics
High schools these days are seemingly limited in specific home economics courses. But students may be presented with options to choose individualized related courses such as Family Studies, Food and Nutrition, or Health and Safety. NPR’s ‘The Salt’, chose to dive a bit deeper on the topic, exploring the transition from old school home economic classes to the revamped version that kids may get to know today.
The salt reports, “These courses haven’t gone away entirely, but their presence in schools is dwindling. In 2012, there were only 3.5 million students enrolled in Family Consumer Science secondary programs.” which is a 38 percent decrease over a decade. Susan Turgeson, President of the Association of Teacher Educators for Family and Consumer Sciences, told NPR, “Classes may now include subjects such as community gardening, composting, and even hydroponics- things you never would have seen in a 1950’s classroom.” (1)
Making Old New Again
It’s important to take the tools of the trade once learned in home economic classes and pass them on to the next generation. Imagine how tailoring the structure to the modern day of essential necessary skills could benefit future generations. How amazing would it be if they understood how to shop for groceries while remaining within a specific budget? What would it look like if everyone understood how interest accrues on credit cards? Are we losing the simple art of preparing a basic meal for ourselves or unexpected guests? Having the tools to successfully grow from childhood to adulthood is not only beneficial, but the ripple effect of knowledge in many ways trickles down to how well we function in society.
Do you believe these classes would greatly benefit society today? Do you feel these courses should be mandatory offerings for students?