When I got married, I knew how to cook pretty much one thing: Hamburger Helper. My mom was a single parent, working full-time so most of our dinners were easy convenience foods. We owned an antique sewing machine (a beautiful Singer piece from the 4os) that I remember her using to sew my Brownie Patches and her Military Patches on, but I never learned how to use it. And with my mom being military, the house was kept pretty spic and span, with military precision, and we were expected to hold the same standards.
And thus is the extent of my domestic life. And I happened to marry a man whose mother was a Home Ec teacher.
If you are in your 30s and reading this blog, there is a good chance your school did not have Home Ec, or if it did, it was not the Home Ec that our parents took! I remember in Middle School there being a class called FACE (Family and Consumer Ed) and the only kids who took it were the ne’erdowells, burnouts, the kids who just wanted an easy “A,” or the kids who were interested in the Hospitality Industry. That was the class that carried about the chicken egg to simulate parenting, and made Pillow People every so often. Basically, it was a joke class. And there was no way I was going to take it. After all, I was going to be a scientist, working in a lab for the rest of my life.
And then things change. I got married and decide that I really don’t want to eat Hamburger Helper or Top Ramen for the rest of my life. Suddenly, we have a budget to keep track of and checkbooks to balance. Then I decide that I want to be a stay-at-home-mom and I’d really like to minimize the number of harsh chemicals in my cleaning arseanal and fell in love with cooking fresh. I sew, I knit, I’m domestic.
Classic/ Traditional Home Ec may be gone and it’s now an elective class at best, but I can’t help but think of the number of kids (both male and female) who miss out on the basic skills that may not get passed down through the generations.
Why is it, when school budgets are cut, it’s the little things like art, music and to an extent, home ec that have to go? Is it the thought that kids will learn these skills in the elusive somewhere? Through the years we have seen education change, and being on both sides of the desk (as a student and as a teacher) it’s not going in the right direction, IMO. We are focusing so much on arbitrary scores and numbers that kids are not getting (or even being offered) a chance at a well-rounded education. But who is to say what a well-rounded education even looks like? I don’t know.
What I do know is, I graduated high school knowing how mitosis and meiosis worked, but I couldn’t bake a loaf of bread. I could work differential equations, but couldn’t balance a checkbook. All of those domestic lessons were learned by fire and because I wanted to. Maybe that’s how it should be?
Did you take Home Ec in high school or middle school? Can you make the perfect soufflé? Tell me your thoughts!
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