Home economics classes used to be one of the main offerings in schools in the good old days, where students (okay, young women) would learn the basics of cooking, cleaning, and raising children. In contrast, mechanic and woodworking classes were standard for young men. These classes were meant to help prepare adolescents for their future prescribed gender roles in domestic life.
Things have changed drastically since then, and societal differences have led many schools to focus on academic pursuits in languages, arts, and sciences. However, many people are asking for the return of home economics courses for all students.
Fewer Schools Are Offering Home Economics Courses
Home economics classes haven't been just put on the back burner: they've been removed from the stove entirely. The class is no longer even offered at many schools in America, and in the schools where it is still available, it is an elective that students must opt into compared to the past where it was mandatory.
Home Economics Offers Lessons Necessary For Life
Some people believe that home economics needs to be offered in schools so that all students can gain knowledge of necessary life skills, even if they don't seem as complex or interesting as biochemistry.
Does it even matter that you can solve trigonometric equations if you don't understand how a pension works?
These Classes Are Actually Really Useful When The Gender Connotations Are Removed
Often rebranded as "Family and Consumer Science", these courses are about more than just baking. Students learn a lot about how to manage finances and savings as well as maintain healthy domestic practices.
Despite the benefits, an NPR report states that there's been a 38% decrease in enrolment for FCS classes.
Some Even Say Home Economics Should Be Mandatory
In an op-ed piece of the Dallas Morning News, University of Texas lecturer Marti Harvey expressed concern when she realized many of her students didn't know what property tax was.
"It's a failing of our educational system that students don't leave high school with this basic understanding, among other things," she wrote. "That's why we need to bring back the old home economics class. Call it 'Skills for Life' and make it mandatory in high schools."
The Courses Are Evolving To Fit Present Societal Needs
According to NPR, Family and Consumer Studies classes sometimes "now include subjects such as community gardening, composting, and even hydroponics", and are changing to adapt to current domestic needs.
Students are taught basic cooking skills, household budgeting from groceries to bills, and how taxes work. These lessons help teenagers become self-sufficient as they venture into the world, making their transition into adulthood much less shocking and challenging.
Teaching Life Skills Shows That Self-Management Is As Important As Academics
Including mandatory lessons on life skills reminds students that their own health, finance management, and domestic care have an equal value to their academic or professional pursuits and should be taken just as seriously.
"High school is the perfect time to introduce life's basics," Marti Harvey wrote in the op-ed. "Students are beginning to feel like adults. They can see the light at the end of the high-school tunnel. They're thinking about what life will be like for them."