Wednesday, April 23, 2014

If schools want to improve the quality of education they can start by mandating Home Ec

    There was a time when virtually every teen-aged girl in the United States took home economics -- or Home Ec -- in high school, and often in college. They learned to sew, and most importantly, to cook.
    Boys almost never took these classes. These girls were in training to be good housewives, and as the world changed Home Ec fell out of favor. Today, Home Ec, if taught at all, is likely to be a course heavy on the teaching of abstract theories of nutrition and life skills and light on cooking.
    And yet if there is any skill needed by both men and women today it is the ability to cook cheap, simple, and nutritious meals prepared from scratch. We often hear complaints that poor people can't survive on a $500 per month food stamp budget, even with their children getting free breakfasts and lunches at school. Part of the problem is that they don't know how to cook anything but expensive convenience foods.
    A few months back I printed my Aunt Eva's roll recipe. (I cooked a batch, but they weren't as good as hers!). A gift of these rolls was something special to us when we were growing up. I think I may take another stab at them this week.
    Aunt Eva had this to say about her recipe:
This recipe came from one of my Home Economics teachers when I was in college. I have made rolls by this recipe since I married and I consider it foolproof.
    Let's be honest here. Most of us would snort with derision at the notion of a modern woman taking a home economics class in college. Yet my Aunt Eva's roll recipe probably brought her and the people around her as much joy as anything other single thing she learned in college.
    I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to enroll in Home Ec courses in college, but I am saying that most high school students -- boys and girls -- should take at least one year of Home Ec, and preferably more. The course could address a variety of topics dealing with personal living, but at least 50 percent should be spent in learning the art of cooking from scratch.
    Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a fan of high academic standards in our schools. But our schools need to teach students the basics of how to live as well. It's all part of education.

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