the mysterious disappearance of home economics.

25 03 2010

while watching superbad a couple of years ago, i found myself wondering during the tiramisu scene: what kind of rich-ass fantasy school still has home ec? seriously, with school budgets being slashed to bits all over town, is there a public school in america that has offered the course in the last 10 years? i think that the majority of people out there in the universe might respond with something like: who gives a shit? and my response would be: i do. i mean, kind of.

it’s not that i think that we should have held on tight to the literal apron strings and cut the history/math/science (even art) department instead. home ec and wood shop were already rapidly withering dinosaurs back in the 90s when i went high school. the prioritization of home ec out of the school system is one thing, but the prioritization of life skills our of our upbringing is entirely another.  the happy homemaker home ec of 1964  is dead, but i propose a mandatory basic living curriculum to be taught at all public high schools that would prepare our youth to be semi-functional adults once they finally get tossed out of the nest.

1. pay your damn bills: from APRs, to FICO scores (with a healthy side of checkbook balancing). maybe a prophylactic measure like this could keep the next generation from being as deep in the financial shit as much as this one?

2. feed yourself: the college transition into the top ramen lifestyle happens so very swiftly. thank sweet jesus that we’re not longer encouraged to trap veg-all in jello, but a little basic cooking, nutritional counseling, and some grocery store field trips (extra credit for coupon clipping) are certainly in order.

3. sew on your own damn buttons: on multiple occasions, i’ve had both grown men & women ask me to sew on a button for them (at which point i look them dead in the eyes and give them my best “bitch please”). nobody learns how to sew anymore, which makes even the most remedial of stitching tasks seem mysterious and terrifying.  both practical and creative, sewing can also be (shouts allegiance to wardrobe refashion) a big time money saver, or even (hails to the gods of etsy) money maker.  plus, it will assure that your current or future children never have to wear a sucky store-bought halloween costume.

4. fix that shit: toilet snaking, nail hole spackling, draino 101. i’m not talking big time home improvement here, but a greater appreciation of proper handy-manning at an earlier age might have assured that i was hanging my artwork up properly, instead of banging pushpins into the walls of my first apartment with a rock.

5. clean up after your ass: i’m definitely not a supporter of daily bed making, but i’ve seen people in their 30s wiping down their counters with windex or using a lint roller as an alternative to owning a vacuum cleaner. somewhere in there, we need to learn how to do dishes without a dishwasher, remove shower curtain mildew, and put our toys away when we’re done.

it’s time to storm the school board! (who’s with me?)



12 responses

25 03 2010

I think this is a good idea. I have several buttons that need to be reattached to things and as it stands I will have to resort to the internet to teach me how to sew.

26 03 2010

i heart instructables! try this tutorial on for size. i promise, it’s easier than you think. plus, even if you do it sloppy, when was the last time you really looked at how well someone’s button were applied? no fear!

25 03 2010

my kids had something in middle school called “family consumer science” which included cooking and sewing. i guess “home ec” is too lame of a name to use anymore. i totally agree with you, kids aren’t taught any life skills in school. my 15 year old is already showing signs of being fiscally irresponsible-he gets $5 and he’s running out the door like a crack addict.

when i was growing up my best friend showed up at our house with her pants hemmed by the use of a stapler. after my mom ripped that shit out and fixed it, i had her show me how to sew.

26 03 2010

i love the staple hem! i’ve also seen double sided tape and glue. it’s interesting to see some of the comments. apparently home ec-like classes tend to be more prevalent in middle school and then phase out… just in time for them to forget everything they learned and then start fresh with the bad habits in college!

26 03 2010

When I was in middle school (’96-“99) we had Applied Humanities and Tech.
We learned to sew a button, thread a bobbin and construct co2 cars.
I feel like they were good classes, but it would have been great if they had also been offered in High School.
The Health class we had was more about nutrition and preventative baby making skills.
Goal setting was always a constant theme too, but more on budeting would have been great.
When I was in 11th grade, I was in a consumer math class for a couple months. That was going in the right direction. We were given a calendar and picked out a monthly income from a hat. Then we had to put various bils on our our calendar and budget for them. Every class we picked a financial event out of a hat- anything from going to the movies to car repairs. Too bad it was pretty much only offered to students who did really badly in math as an alternative to Algebra 2.

26 03 2010

it’s so weird that they think that the honors kids don’t need life skills! i was in the top 10% of my class and i still horribly fucked up my life! everyone should have to take consumer math.

26 03 2010

Love the course descriptions and names – I vote that they be adopted nation-wide.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I had to learn to fend for ourselves, otherwise we’d have starved.

A friend of my brother came to stay with us for a summer, in the kid’s side of a shotgun-style New Orleans duplex. (Yeah – we had our own house, next door to mom’s. It’s not nearly as cool as it sounds.)

We gladly worked him into the cooking rotation, until it actually came time for him to take his turn. I kid you not – he filled a large pot with water, added a box of macaroni, the cheese packet, 1/4 cup of milk, and a pat of margarine. Started stirring and asked us when it was going to turn into Mac & Cheese. WTF?

He was 16!

26 03 2010

i’m pretty sure my epicureally challenged sister (older by 2 years!) did EXACTLY the same thing when we were kids. i do think that cooking well involves a lot of intuition- but package reading is also essential!

26 03 2010
The Coupon Goddess

Totally agreed. However, the decline started a long time ago. I have many, many friends who can’t cook. I think my generation didn’t spend as much time in the kitchen watching mom cook. It just wasn’t the cool thing to do. And our values have changed as well. For a long time having the best cars, the most expensive clothes, and the most toys were the “in thing”. Now it’s almost hip to be frugal. Hopefully those of us living in this depressed economy will teach our kids how to live a more responsible life style. On a side note, I took home ec. I failed sewing and got an A in cooking. Still can’t sew buttons, but boy can I bake a mean cookie. 😉

26 03 2010

weirdly enough, my mother still does not allow me to use the stove in her house. i was never really allowed to cook growing up (and never took home ec), but somehow i still turned into a decent home-chef. my sister on the other hand is a hopeless mess (see below). partly it’s interest and drive with a little natural ability on the side, but it would have been helpful if my sister hand been shown how to properly make box macaroni and cheese at some point. you were most definitely born with the baking gene (hello kitty cupcake perfection!). is it really that you can’t sew, or is it the fabulous nails?

1 07 2011
Thrifting for Vintage Fabric | Goodwill Industries of NNE

[…] I finally had the means necessary to make all the garments that lived in my head. Well, as soon as I learned how to sew.  (Don’t even get me started on the disappearance of Home Economics from the American school curriculum). […]

20 02 2014
Thrifting for Vintage Fabric | Goodwill Industries of NNE

[…] I finally had the means necessary to make all the garments that lived in my head. Well, as soon as I learned how to sew.  (Don’t even get me started on the disappearance of Home Economics from the American school curriculum). […]

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