I still remember shop class. I hated it. My saving grace was that as an asthmatic, I was forbidden by my doctors to be exposed to the dust and small particles surrounding such an environment. I was appointed to helping out in the library. Whew! But I did enjoy baking cookies. However, that was never an option in my school days. The 80’s had turned the tide of the American schoolroom. Girls were no longer regulated to baking and sewing; now they took Shop, along with the boys. I am sure, had it not been for my asthma, I would have learned some very important skills in home improvement.
A few years ago, a small, private, women’s college opened their doors to men. This was met with great opposition from female students and graduates who believed their alma mater’s traditions were being challenged. To make matters worse, the staff and faculty had decided, without input from graduates or students, to remove Home Economics majors from their courses of study. The faculty along with many of the incoming young students believed Home Economics was passe and no longer useful, and a slap against women. Girls today were programming computers not kitchen stoves.
Now, ten years later, the world is experiencing a pandemic not seen since the Spanish Influenza outbreak in 1919. One hundred and one years later has produced a generation who believes food comes from a supermarket and clothes from The Gap. No one has learned from their school lessons that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
If we had listened to those bright, intelligent graduates from years past, we would not be so quick to dismiss their hard work or to complain now. We would not be in a panic over toilet tissue as we would know how to make due with cloth strips and the flush, wash and reuse as our mothers did with cloth diapers; before we became a disposable world.
We would also know the fundamentals of food preservation and canning for a “rainy” day. Right now we are under a deluge.
Sewing skills would be handy as we could make our own masks and help protect ourselves and others. I am thankful I learned to use a needle and thread at a young age. I can sew a button back on my shirt and fashion a few simple stitches for emergency hems. Thank goodness so many women from the generations before us were savvy enough to use those skills others called outdated, to make masks for family and friends.
Meal planning, budgeting a household, making clothes, making due with resources at hand…all but about gone and needed now more than ever!
Maybe when the pandemic has faded and life begins to resemble once again some picture of normalcy, high schools across the nation will encourage home economics for all of their students as we remember the importance of life skills in a world that believes a computer can do everything for you. Maybe there will be a resurgence of Home Economics degrees throughout our universities and colleges. If so, I might exchange my Associates’ for a four year degree.
Who is with me on this? Are we doomed to keep repeating lessons until they are learned? I’m for Home Economics Now!