Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Happened to Home Ec?

     Classroom kitchens furnished with all the modern appliances; stainless steel pots and pans just waiting to be used. Home Ec was the place little aprons were stitched and baby dolls were diapered; where many of us attempted, for the first time, a complete meal prep- all on our own. I still have the pillow designed, stitched, and stuffed by my own hands. 
      Today's curriculum finds little room for proper table settings and embroidered aprons. Instead, according to Los Angeles Times, we have left behind cake decorating for a more vocational approach to child development and culinary arts. No longer encouraged as an elective course, today's "Family and Consumer Science" program is offered as an after-school program in a 'trade school' type setting. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare felt Home Ec was outdated, needing to rise to the needs of the culture, but did it?
      An article in The New York Times posed an interesting question- would bringing back Home Ec help in the battle against childhood obesity? It is a sobering reality- many households do not know how to cook, and often have very limited knowledge of where their food comes from or how to perform basic mending tasks. Planning a budget, setting the table- even sitting at the table for meals- seems lost in the shuffle. Would this education restore the balance aiding the next generation with knowledge to make better choices? Sadly, funding needed to change is lacking- schools are just not equipped or willing to take the plunge. 
      Our hands seem tied in the matter, but are they? Not necessarily. Resources exist; we just need to know where to find them. FFA and 4H programs offer several activities/projects to assist our classrooms with agricultural, nutritional, and home ec-type training. Our state holds an extension program known as "Better Living for Texas" offering classes and hands on demonstrations for both youth and adults to learn the skills we have lost over the years. 
      As a parent, I was saddened by the reality Home Ec no longer exists. Determination drove me to find the programs, curriculum, and help I needed to implement home training for our children. I encourage you to dig deeper into your area education system and local extension office- find what works for you. If, like me, your children have outgrown it..consider helping your area teach others home economic skills. There are always places for new hands to help.  

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