Skip Reading Class and Bring Back Home Ec

Once included in the standard curriculum, home economics began to vanish from the educational scene sometime during the 1980s. In the face of technological advances what benefit, some wondered, could there be in teaching children how to sew and cook? Now, some question if home ec and the life skills it could impart should find their way back into our schools.

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home economics

The Facts of Life

You can't survive without eating. So what might happen if you're on your own someday - will you have the ability to cook meals for yourself? For many, chances are probably not. If nothing else, taking home ec may have taught you some basics about selecting and preparing food.

Is there a way to re-introduce home ec into a modern school curriculum?

With budget cuts reducing classes and programs in nearly every state it doesn't seem likely, but here's a thought: maybe schools should look at consolidating topics. For instance, a home ec class could still foster reading skills (recipes, cookbooks) and math skills (measuring out ingredients, converting measurements as needed). Home ec could even incorporate some science: discussions could focus on caloric value, food sources and nutrition information.

Home Ec to Fight Obesity?

What's more, home ec classes could help confront a growing problem, particularly among adolescents, in the United States: obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.5 million children in the U.S. are obese. This has led to an increase in some diseases related to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes. Dr. Siripoom McKay of Texas Children Hospital's Diabetes and Endocrine Center has noted a 'sharp increase' in type 2 diabetes in children over the past 17 years.

Some suggest that home ec could teach children about caloric intake, acceptable food portions, nutrition and proper food preparation. Home ec could also go a long way toward teaching children that it's easy to prepare foods that are both delicious and nutritious.

A Benefit to All

But home ec is for girls, right?

Not so, says Tufts University's Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy, and Children's Hospital Boston's Dr. David Ludwig, a pediatric endocrinologist. Boys can certainly benefit from developing cooking skills as well as learning about nutrition and other topics that could be covered in home ec. These are skills and knowledge that could come in handy for young men moving away to start college or living on their own.

After all, there are likely plenty of girls who would enjoy attending shop class to learn how to operate power tools and make things out of wood. But alas, shop classes joined home ec courses on the educational garbage heap nearly 30 years ago. However, wouldn't reading blueprints and assembly instructions incorporate reading? And measuring wood to be cut utilize math skills? But that, it would seem, might be the topic of another article.

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