Bring Back Home Economics!

How funny is that? Teens lucky enough to live in affluent areas where they are receiving amazing educations are worried about the fact that they do not know how to cook, clean a house, shop for groceries on a budget, plan meals, sew, or do minor home repairs. There is a whole generation coming up that has not ever baby-sitted, either, which is less funny. I think this is an odd situation because I am one of the generation that refused to take home economics unless I could also take wood, metal, or auto shop, and here I am echoing a call from well-educated young teens to reinstate home economics in school.

In middle school in the late 1960s/early 1970s young girls like myself were defending our right to choose professions by refusing to take the "girl" classes that included typing and home economics that would prepare us to be moms, nurses, and secretaries. We were also refusing to wear the required skirts to school as well as protesting the Vietnam War, but those things are less relevant here. I would like to confess here and now that I have kicked myself several times over the years for refusing to learn how to type, but oh well - it was worth it!

Seriously, what are we going to do for the next generation of doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers and accountants? Where in their lives are they going to learn how to run a home, mend and fix things, bake, cook, and plan meals? If kids are busy with school, extracurriculars, sports, community service, or music, their parents (or a staff) are likely taking care of the nuts-and-bolts of their lives, meaning these teens are not in the kitchen, helping clean or repair the home, or watching younger siblings, where they would learn by participating.

If they are not learning at home, and they are not learning in school, not only are they not developing those skills, but more importantly, they are not learning the importance of these daily rhythms, patterns, and nurturing activities. These are not just skills, they are, in a sense, the things that bring joy to people and may be what has traditionally helped women live longer than men. The simple things in life - home and food - bring comfort to people and sustain us emotionally, but someone has to know how to provide those things in a family. Before someone revokes my feminist card, let me say that it does not have to be the mom, but someone has to do it.

My own daughters are lucky in that my bend toward hippie-dom, Girl Scouts, and my love for Waldorf education have given them all of the "old" skills. They can both embroider, sew, cook, knit, crochet, make soap, and do several things I cannot including fix a toilet. They cannot however, clean a bathroom, but I intend to fix that this summer.

Photo credit: scootie
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