Back in olden times, like when I was in high school, there was a class called Home Economics, in which girls learned basic cooking techniques, how to sew, and other household skills.
Of course, by about the 70s those classes were phased out, and thought to be sexist. More women were working alongside men, and fewer were staying home to hold down the fort for the family.
But now, a lot of people are wondering if we should have ditched those classes, because whole generations of people are growing up to find that they can’t cook a meal, let alone sew on a button, and we’re talking men and women!
Now, some schools do offer a version of Home Ec – called Family and Consumer Sciences – and 25 percent of students participate. But where Home Ec was taught for a whole year, these classes are only taught for 9-weeks. And the focus has changed - what used to be a class that prepared people for homelife and family, is now vocational. The modern version prepares kids for a job in a hotel, or a restaurant, or to be a child-care worker. So nobody is getting the skills that we all eventually need: How to cook, how to choose nutritious foods, and how to budget a household income.
Basically, when Home Ec went away, the argument was that those skills were outdated and unnecessary. But they truly are basics that everyone needs to be self-sufficient.
Alice Lichtenstein is a professor of nutrition science at Tufts University, and she think there’s a direct link between a lack of food knowledge and the obesity epidemic. Since 1980, when Home Ec disappeared, obesity among middle schoolers, the age range when the class was generally taught, has tripled. And most kids aren’t learning these skills at home.
So what do you think? Time for schools to bring back Home Ec, for everybody, not just girls?
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