Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Home Economics

 Source:  Google

My absolute favorite subject in High School.  I think at that point in my life I was already well grounded in the fact that I wanted to be a homemaker, a wife, a mother.  I wanted to surround myself with a home and with the daily chores and matter of fact, my favorite game to play was the pretend homemaker.

I would take my dolls and place them in beds and cover them up, and I would take a corner of my bedroom (which I shared with my 3 brothers until I was 13 years old), and turn it into my pretend home.  I had a very busy life, I went to work all day and then came home and changed from my high heels into slippers, said hello to all my children and got right into the business of picking up the house and fixing dinner.

It was where I felt most comfortable.

  Source:  Google

While other little girls dreamed of being princesses and their wedding days, I dreamed of being a homemaker.  I know it may seem crazy to some, why would I want to imagine or yearn for a life of cleaning and messes and cooking???

But to me it was quite natural.  It was something that was instilled in me from a very young age, and perhaps because I grew up with my greatgrandmother and grandmother, under their feet, watching them do their housework and prepare meals for 12 and 13 people at a time.

No dolls or doll houses for me when birthdays came around, I was very stern that what I wanted was pretend pots and pans.

  Source:  Google

So my grandmother would indulge me.  We would take off walking towards the local market and I knew immediately which stall to head to.  Filled with metal play pots and pans, in clear bags, I would reach up and point to the one that caught my eye, and my grandmother with a smile on her face would always say "Ok".  I couldn't wait to get back to the house to try them out.

I guess in a sense I always knew that this was what I wanted.  Old fashioned perhaps, but that's ok because I am blessed and truly privileged to have grown up in an era where homemaking and being a mother and wife was something to aspire to, and not something to look down on.

When I came to high school, math, science and geography were not subjects that I wanted to deal with.  I looked forward to Home Economics and would have gladly spent all day long in that classroom.

 Source:  Google

Cooking, sewing, knitting, nutrition, the scientific part of food, what does what, the composition, where it comes from.  Budgeting a home, cleaning and mending.

THAT was what I was into.

We all know that our teen years are some of the most important in that they shape us into what we will become as adults.  They are crucial to our development and I believe that Home Economics and Wood Shop are pivotal in teaching some very important skills.  Skills, that unfortunately have been lacking for a few decades, when these important subjects were removed from schools.

I learned so much.  I was lucky in the sense that not only was I being taught some poignant lessons at school, but equally boosting those lessons at home with my greatgrandmother, grandmother and stepmother.  Lucky girl that I was.  Lucky girl was I!!!

So why exactly was Home Economics removed from schools, and when???

I'm certainly not going to get into a debate about feminism on my blog.  But from what I've researched online, it seems that the idea of Home Economics for girls and Wood Shop for boys began being looked down on, as if it was something bad telling women that they should be in the home and good homemakers.  Makes no sense to me, whether you are working in the home or out of the home, shouldn't you still know the same things???

 Source:  Google

What use is it for me if I work full time, to come home and not know the basics?  Not know how to cook or how to mend a little hole in a perfectly good outfit?

When my daughter was born, I was so excited, I guess I was still under the illusion that she would be able to go to school and learn all of these great things too.  I knew she would just love it and have as much fun as her mom.  And then school rolled around and I realized that this was no longer available, and it truly saddened me, she was going to miss out on something so important.

Yes, she can learn these skills at home, and I do teach BOTH my daughter and my son, but it would have been even better if they had this as part of their curriculum too.

I will always fondly remember my Home Economics classes.  We would bake cakes, or whole meals and it was quite funny because as I am Portuguese, me and the other Portuguese girls would cook up steaks and fries and fried eggs and salad and all these other goodies which would tempt the other girls in the classroom, they would hover over our station and "ooohhh and aaahhh" and ask us for help when they had a question.

My brothers and their friends would come and wait outside my classroom at the end of the day, and take whatever I had cooked/baked that day to detention, to eat LOL

Source:  Google

I learned how to knit and remember knitting a bear for class.  I was so very proud of mine.  It looked very similar to this easy bear below, just that mine was white.

 Source:  Sweet Happy Life

I also had to make a skirt and it was intimidating at first, but thankfully, I had my seamstress grandmother at home to give me pointers and advice, and when I produced that black A-Line skirt to my teacher, I was equally proud that I had made something by my own hands, that I could wear.

Source:  Flickr

Mending socks, mending a little hole on a pair of shorts, or a shirt, sewing a button, adding a zipper, using a sewing machine.  LOVED it!

The one part that I didn't much care for, was the chemistry of food.  I honestly disliked it, I felt like I knew what ingredients went well with what and that was all I needed to know.  But honestly, I'm so glad I did do it because nowadays when I'm in the kitchen cooking a meal, I often remember little tidbits that I learned during that lesson.

But now, all that is gone....and I think what has resulted from this, is a generation of children who are unable to thread a needle, sew on buttons, do the laundry, or cook a very simple meal. Yes, I guess they could go online and in this day and age, find a plethora of websites showing them how, but is that really better than a class with hands on help from a teacher?
 Source:  Tumblr

I know as parents it is our job to teach basic life skills, but why remove such an important subject from school???

It breaks my heart, because with the way things are now, and with so many people wanting to live simpler lives and go back to the basics, these lessons are sorely missed from schooling.

So, you bet your sweet behind that I'm teaching my children everything I know, and I'm going out of my way to make sure that they are equipped for their future.

Last year, we took Home Life which touched on things like cooking, banking, auto repair, woodworking etc.  But I am going to expound on those this year.

My goal is for my children to know:

..... how to sew a simple button or at least do a quick mending of a hem or a little hole in their clothes.
..... cook a simple meal (though they already do a few)
..... write a check
..... check the oil, water in the car
..... improve their gardening (again, something they already do but could always learn more)
..... simple cleaning of a house
..... laundry (they already do this, but it doesn't hurt to do more)

These, and many more.  I want them to learn that you don't throw out a perfectly good piece of clothing, just because you don't know how to sew on a button or mend a little tear in the seam.

I believe these skills cause us to do more with less and pay closer attention to our home environments. It may even improve our quality of life.

But now I want to know, what do you think of Home Economics?  Did you do it in school, did you like it?  Do you feel that it should still be available in our schools?  Or do you think that it's something that the parents need to teach and not be taught by teachers?


Conny said...

I had a year of home ec in high school ... I loved everything but the sewing. I am just now learning to really sew and finally have a sewing machine of my own!

My Oma (German Grandmother) learned Home Ec as a Hitler Maid in 1930s Germany ... She wasn't a Nazi by any means ... all the girls had to do something like this or were expected to. My Oma worked for farmers with big families and cooked, took care of children, and such ... She was THE BEST cook ever!!! :) I miss her and wish I'd learned more from her. She died when I was about 20 yrs old.

Kathy Skinner (Kat) said...

I took Home Ec in school but didn't like the sewing part. I learned to love sewing a few years later but knew the basics. I think Home Ec should definitely be taught in school because many parents today know very little about the basics of keeping a house, cooking, or mending. If there's no one home to teach, how are the kids going to learn? My mother also taught me to cook, clean, knit, sew, crochet, embroider, etc. I taught my children but who is teaching the next generation. It is not feminism; it's survival!

Kara said...

I loved Home Ec! Do they really not offer it at all anymore? I mean, the class I took in Jr High was still pretty basic, cooking and a little sewing and a 5lb flour bag baby to take care of, but I enjoyed it. And I took a foods class in high school that was fun. I still have the recipes we used somewhere, I need to find them because the minestrone soup we made was amazing. And I loved shop class too!

Debby said...

Wonderful post!! Beautiful photo's. I too loved Home Ec we also had a Home and Family class that everyone had to take girls and guys. Most of what I picked up was from our Grandmother who we lived with after our Mom died. I so agree that we need to bring back LIVING skills in our schools. The challenge I am working on this month shows how much basic kitchen skills are needed to make ends meet.

Carol said...

I never took home ec because there were too many other electives I wanted to take, but I don't think that not taking it hurt me in any way. (Of course I knew how to cook/clean/sew already because that's just how it was at my house). I think home ec/shop might still be offered in our school district, but I'm not sure... But I do agree that it is a shame kids leave school without knowledge of so many basic things. Here, we have a community service requirement for high school graduation. I think kids should also have to pass "Life Skills" class that mention the things you wrote about here.

Stay at home mom said...

I definitely think it should still be offered. So many young girls do not have the skills to be a homemaker. Since the 50's and 60's society has wanted to remove the women from their homes. Fortunately my mother had stayed home with me as I was growing up, and I learned a lot from her. I was also not taught Home Economics in a school classroom. I was homeschooled. My mother taught me to cook and clean, and then I went to a local Sewing shop to take a sewing class for my credit.
I believe that it should primarily begin in the home, but that schools should still offer the class. Not all girls are as privileged as you and me to have such wonderful family members to teach us.

Susanne said...

I enjoyed home economics more in high school than junior high. That was when the sewing and cooking was split into two separate classes as opposed to junior high when the two were combined. Loved the cooking but the sewing gave me hives! And it's still the same today. LOL.

As far as who teaches young people? Ideally, of course, it would be wonderful if the parents taught their children. I think as a society we rely all too often on schools, teachers, coaches and Sunday School teachers to teach what really is what we should be passing on. But realistically that just doesn't happen for every child so I'm glad and thankful that schools have programs that teach kids everyday basics such as that.

lisa said...

I took Home Ec in high school as well, my kids took Living Skills in middle school.. It was required in the 8th grade in Iowa... My daughter took CAD in high was learning about your car...How to change the oil and rebuild an engine.. She knows the sounds of the car and what to listen for.. Which I think is very important for girls these days.. My boys did not take the class and she will tell them that by the sound of their car that it needs oil.. She knows how to change the brakes and can rebuild a alternator if she had to.. But she does take the car in to be serviced...She sews, knits and crochets.. Does not like to bake.. My boys love to bake... My son who is married does the cooking.. My other son who is dating a wonderful old fashioned girl and they just made those tie blankets together.. I do believe the schools need to teach Home Ec or life skills...I am not sure if they do now or not because all my kids are through college...

Love your blog...We choose for me to stay at home with our kids to.. I loved every moment of it..
Have a great evening..Lisa

Tammy ~ Country Girl at Home ~ said...

Amen Sandra! I wholeheartedly agree with you. I didn't realize that they didn't have this anymore in the schools since we have homeschooled for so many years.

I even took Family Management in high school and loved it. Like you, being a wife and mother were the things I knew I wanted and more than anything. The only other thing I pretended as a child was teaching.... and now I get the best of both of those worlds (like you) with teaching my children at home too.

This is truly sad. It seems everywhere we turn the family is being torn down.

I love being a wife and mother....and it truly has the greatest rewards! Great post!


Suellen aka Suzy said...

I didn't enjoy Home EC mostly because the ladies who taught it didn't want to be teaching and shouldn't have been teaching.

But my grandmother taught me how to knit, sew, crochet, embroider, quilt, etc. However, even though both my mother and my grandmother were great cooks, they were lousy teachers. I'm still more talented at opening a can than at actual cooking, although now that I am eating healthier there are more salads and fewer cans, frozen foods, etc.

I do think that home economics and wood shop should be taught in school, I think if I'd had decent teachers I might be a decent cook by now!

Sandrocas said...

Oh Sandra, Sandra, I think we were split at birth,lol! I read cookbooks for fun back in high school!
My son is going to gr 8(high school in my city is 8-12), and he will be taking one semester of electronics and woodworking, and one semester of Food and Nutrition and Sewing...I'm so excited! I'm with you, everyone needs to know the basics! By the time I was seven, I was hemming pants by hand, polishing my dad's shoes(every Saturday for Church, and earning quarter in the process). Crocheting and daughter is the same. My son is very into science and technology,but he's not leaving my house without some basics skills, if his wife works, or is ill, he needs to do his share, everyone needs to contribute in a family.

TheFishie said...

Home Ec wasn't offered at my high school and I doubt I would have taken it if it had been since there were so many interesting courses to fill my schedule. So much of the content you mentioned in your post are hobbies of mine (cooking, baking, sewing). I don't mean to denigrate anyone who considers them more than that, but it's my choice to cook nearly all our meals from scratch, not a necessity given modern conveniences. In other words,it is very possible to live on prepared foods or takeout--my husband did it for years before we were married. Moreover, truly basic cooking, cleaning, and sewing a button are imo common sense things, ie you follow a simple recipe, scrub till clean, etc. I think it's the pride in making a home run that's special and that can't be taught.

To make a long-winded answer short, I disagree that home ec-type courses are must haves of the curriculum but fully support electives of a domestic nature such as culinary arts, sewing, woodwork, auto repair, etc if the school's budget permits.Learning at home or on your own is still probably the best way to teach such skills to our kids and impress upon them the importance we attach.

Jenna said...

I did take Home Economics in high school but it was not a year long course, just a quarter, so maybe 12 weeks. I remember making a pillow and pancakes. :) I would have liked to take more but that was all that was offered. I think it would be important for all young men and women to take these classes. So much time and money is wasted in our culture. It seems like this generation is at a we scale back and live simply or continue to run and go, go, go like a hamster in a wheel. Our family has chosen to live simply. My son is just 2 but he already spends time with me in the kitchen and you can bet that as he gets older I'll teach him more and more.

Amber said...

I had a year of Home Ec in high school, and I thought it was ok. I remember sewing a pillow and making pancakes, but I don't remember much else! However, I LOVE the topic now, and since we homeschool, every day is filled with opportunities to teach my kiddos about cooking and sewing and crocheting and all of those other skills that are so helpful and practical. It's actually my favorite part of homeschooling!

Jen said...

Home Ec was my favorite subject. We never did learn how to knit. My grandmother was the one who taught me. I honestly wanted to major in home ec in high school. The home ec course for me was just a half of a semester. We made an apron. I gave it to my grandmother for Christmas one year. She still wears it today. The fabric I chose was bright. I often wonder what I was thinking. LOL! She loves it tho. Our second part of the semester was learning all about food. Yes and the Chemestry that went along with food. ICK! We made everything from pancakes to meatloaf and everything in between.

My children are slowly learning how to keep a house. My Hannah is more like me when it comes to homemaking. She loves to shadow me. It keeps me working diligently. We have been using the Mennonite home ec course to teach the kids various tasks. It was given to us when we began homeschooling. I love it!

Miss chatting with you on facebook. But that has given me the nudge to get back to handwritten letters. Be expecting something soon.

Virginia Valerie said...

I learned cooking, sewing, baking, laundry, ironing, and cleaning from my mom, who was able to be a stay-at-home mom when I was growing up. I also had a good school, which offered home ec and woodshop as electives (I took both). Nowadays, the general economic situation means that often both parents work and school funding has been greatly reduced, meaning most schools no longer offer these really useful courses. It's a bummer that these courses get dropped right when they are needed the most, because working parents don't have time to teach these life skills. I'm able to be a stay-at-home mom now to my one-year-old, and it is really important to me to be able to teach him these skills!

Thanks for your blog!

Coffee Lady said...

I took a form of Home Ec in HS - FOODS 101 and we had a co-ed class. Also wood shop was co-ed. My mom taught me the basics.

I enjoyed your blog post - It was similar for me as well. I just wanted to be a mom and a homemaker. I hate to work outside the home!

Liz said...

I had home ec in middle school. We also had wood shop, but that was in elective while home ec was required every year. We learned to cook and sew. I'm sure we learned other things, but that's what stuck out to me. I don't know if they offered it in highschool because I went to a magnet school for college prep. My mom stayed at home with my sister and I, and then later my brother. My grandma majored in home economics in college. That's what I would have loved. I didn't know they took it out of schools honestly, but come to think of it, my brother hasn't taken any of those classes that I know of. I think there is a lot of important things that you learn from home ec regardless of gender, but I also do think parents hold a lot of responsibility there as well. My parents made my sister and I each cook one meal a week. We also had to clean our rooms and do dishes every night as well as help with laundry and any other cleaning in the house. We both are really decent cooks and know how to do dishes and laundry, clean the floors, bathrooms, etc. If my parents hadn't forced it on us as children, I'd hate to think of the status of our homes and families... Hahah!