Home ec class..necessary or not? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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At my DD's junior high, all students are required to take an introductory home ec class.

 

This isn't something I did growing up.

 

I'm not against it, for students that want to take it.  DD doesn't necessarily mind it.  However with the amount of electives that she takes, it would be nice to have that time instead as a study hall.

 

Do kids actually learn much in this class?

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#2 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 07:53 AM
 
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In Years 6, 7 and 8, in home ec, DS and DD both did some rudimentary sewing (DS made a pillow, DD made a bag, they both made stuffed animals). They both had already done a fair amount of sewing and craft work, so it was nothing new. The other part of the course was nutrition, menu planning, grocery shopping and simple cooking. There was some cooking in school in the home ec room (which is called something else - domestic arts, maybe?) but they also had to shop and prepare meals for our family. Again, not much new for them since they had been cooking with me since they were toddlers. 

 

If you think she's already covered the curriculum and will be bored or unhappy, I'd ask the administration if she can get credit for prior independent learning. You might be asked to put together some documentation of prior learning and submit it. Perhaps a portfolio of sewing projects and other crafts that she's completed and a menu list of meals that she's cooked recently for your family. 

 

OTOH, it's usually a lot of fun for the kids to work on the sewing and cooking projects in class together. It's a nice break from lecture/lab/study hall time. It's an opportunity for some collaborative learning. If she's already competent, it's a chance for her to be a leader and a resource person in the class. 

 

BTW, they also participated in wood working and metal working (Industrial arts? design and tech? something like that) and really enjoyed those classes too. DS created a wolf silhouette from wood and DD gave me a wooden jewelry box that sits on my bedside table. 

 

 

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#3 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 08:07 AM
 
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I don't have a problem with it. Many kids never get a chance to cook or sew or menu plan at home. And everyone should have basic cooking and meal planning skills. I work with many 20 and 30 somethings that could have used such a class.  And she might find a love of a new skill in that class.

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#4 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 08:46 AM
 
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I think home economics and industrial arts classes are excellent for having a switch to life skills and hands-on learning.  A lot of home economics programs also have a term on child studies or healthy relationships, too, along with stuff like cooking and sewing.  I look at especially sewing, cooking and industrial arts as artistic outlets that aren't only about painting and sculpting, etc.  Maybe it's not necessary, but that could be said about all kinds of things we study in school.  And when kids are young teens, we have no way of knowing if we might be fostering the interests of a future chef or fashion designer.  How can you know if some of these things are for you without trying?


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#5 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 10:00 AM
 
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I believe it's a valuable class and should be offered as an elective but I'd be irritated if it were a required class eating up an elective spot.

 

In our area, the middle school standard is 6 periods. After Math, English, P.E., Science and Social Studies, there is only 1 elective spot left and kids should be able to choose whatever they have personal interest in. My kids actually go/went to a middle school with 7 periods and so they get two electives but they would have been very frustrated having to give up band/orchestra or their foriegn languages for home ec. I would have been irritated too as I can't teach my kids Mandarin and how to play the trumpet at home (which is what my current 6th grader opted for.) I can and do teach them to sew, cook, use power tools, ect.

 

Certainly, I'm not against learning these skills but I don't see requiring them.


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#6 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 10:01 AM
 
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I took both. I think they are great.

 

1. They provide functional living skills. Honestly, many kids cant sew on a button, hem a line, change a spare tire, top off the oil in the car, or cook a simple meal. They also lack nutrition information to make wise choices. It also is a fantastic way to practice living skills under the eye of a teacher (vs parent).

 

2. Those classes often lead kiddos to explore careers like chef, seamstress, fashion design, car mechanic, etc. Many kids today dont get as much exposure to those careers- the classes provide a good fundamental outlook on them.

 

3. They provide a 'non-academic' class that some students may appreciate. Some student struggle with academics and those classes really give them something to do 'with their hands'. It is a great way for ALL students to see that each one of us has different talents/interests/skills.

 

If they are not required- they are an elective. If they are required- there still should be room in the students schedule to take 1-2 electives. Some of it may depend on the year (6.7.8.9). I was able to be in Band and take French in addition to my required classes the entire Middle School.

 

If you feel your DC has these skills already, you could try to bypass them. But as I posted- I think a lot of these skills is something that all students need rudimentary exposure to AND they are great subjects to learn alongside your peers.

 

Many areas are attempting to have high school students take a personal finance class since so many college students struggle with balancing bills, etc.

 

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#7 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 10:24 AM
 
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Well, if she has to take it make the best of it.  I remember make stuff and cooking.  It was a nice break from a busy day.

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#8 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I won't try to bypass it...that isn't my style.

 

 

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#9 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 11:56 AM
 
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As long as they make the boys take it , too. Everyone should know how to put back on a button, make a simple meal, do laundry and shop well. Some working parents are so busy they forget to teach these things.
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#10 of 60 Old 09-06-2011, 11:59 PM
 
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i think home ec should be a necessary - a class one has to take. i dont think we have any home ec classes in any of our schools in our school dst. 

 

i am blown away by how many people dont cook. period. never cooked ever in their life. they know how to assemble - throw things from cans, in the microwave but never from scratch cooking. and the scary part. many have parents who themselves dont know how to cook. yeah 2 to 3 generations who have never cooked. 

 

and as others have pointed out - simple basic sewing and all the other good stuff. i guess that's why men's warehouse has (Or is it had?) lifetime guarantee on their suits so they would sew on a button for free. 


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#11 of 60 Old 09-07-2011, 05:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by philomom View Post

As long as they make the boys take it , too. Everyone should know how to put back on a button, make a simple meal, do laundry and shop well. Some working parents are so busy they forget to teach these things.

And some "nonworking" parents too! winky.gif
 

 


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#12 of 60 Old 09-07-2011, 06:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post

i am blown away by how many people dont cook. period. never cooked ever in their life. they know how to assemble - throw things from cans, in the microwave but never from scratch cooking. and the scary part. many have parents who themselves dont know how to cook. yeah 2 to 3 generations who have never cooked. 

 

and as others have pointed out - simple basic sewing and all the other good stuff. i guess that's why men's warehouse has (Or is it had?) lifetime guarantee on their suits so they would sew on a button for free. 


I totally agree with this. We cook  from scratch, and when other children visit here, they are often amazed that it's possible to actually make one's one chocolate chip cookie dough because they've only seen it come from a tube, or make pancakes from actual flour rather than a mix. One girl (who was in 4th grade) was very upset visiting our family for a "build your own pizza event" because we didn't have the kind of cheese she liked. She wasn't sure what it was called, but ours didn't look right. She had never seen shredded mozzarella. Pizza is something that is ordered and delivered at her house (moms a lawyer, dad's a dentist, no one ever cooks).

 

I suspect they will also work in some basic information about nutrition. It will most likely be uber basic -- vegetables good, sugar bad -- but it's still stuff that many of the kids need to hear.

 

They'll most likely teach the kids to follow a recipe, which will require a review of basic measurements - fractions, ounces, teaspoons vs tablespoons

 

I can see why a school would have this class and require it.

 

It's an elective at our school, but my kids have tried new foods that they wouldn't have tried at home, and come home with healthy recipes excited about adding them our family's regular dishes.

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#13 of 60 Old 09-07-2011, 07:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Coral123 View Post

I won't try to bypass it...that isn't my style.

 

 



Oh, okay, I thought you were wondering how to go about getting a study hall period substituted for the home ec class. I guess I read too much into the bolded statement below.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coral123 View Post

At my DD's junior high, all students are required to take an introductory home ec class.

 

This isn't something I did growing up.

 

I'm not against it, for students that want to take it.  DD doesn't necessarily mind it.  However with the amount of electives that she takes, it would be nice to have that time instead as a study hall.

 

Do kids actually learn much in this class?

 

 

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#14 of 60 Old 09-07-2011, 07:29 AM
 
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As long as they make the boys take it , too. Everyone should know how to put back on a button, make a simple meal, do laundry and shop well. Some working parents are so busy they forget to teach these things.


Are there places where they still segregate by sex for these classes? Wow. It didn't even occur to me. I recall both boys and girls taking home ec and industrial arts when I was in middle school, and that was several decades ago. 

 

And, yeah, there are parents who don't teach basic sewing and cooking and home maintenance. Working and stay-at-home both. Too busy is one reason. Don't have skills or interest is another. Or they consider these things are for "the help" and it would never cross their minds to teach their kids how to do these chores. I know a few stay-at-home moms who think that way. 

 

 

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#15 of 60 Old 09-07-2011, 07:30 AM
 
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I think Home Ec should be required for all high school students. I can honestly say that what I learned in Home Ec was of more use to me than anything else I learned in High School.

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#16 of 60 Old 09-07-2011, 07:36 AM
 
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I learned useful things in home ec. Things that, btw, my mother *would* have taught me, but I just wasn't interested in learning from her! Moms, what do they know? Pfft!

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BTW, on the "is it useful" question....yesterday DD went to school (10th grade) carrying a shoulder bag she made out of men's ties from Goodwill. It took her about an hour or two to whip it up on our home sewing machine. She did it one afternoon this summer while she was bored. She came home with an order to make one for a friend, and wondering how much to charge if she gets more orders. 

 

Her BFF (11th grade) has run a small bakery business for the past couple of years. She does monthly specials - pumpkin cookies for Hallowe'en, Christmas cookies - as well as special order birthday cakes etc. She has a website and an e-mail list and sells mostly to friends and family, but has done pretty well. She's a visual arts major at their art school, and part of her audition portfolio was scrapbook of photos of her decorated cakes. 

 

 

 

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I recall both boys and girls taking home ec and industrial arts when I was in middle school, and that was several decades ago. 

 


Shop is also an elective at our school, and few girls participate. The teacher (super nice guy) is trying to get more girls interested.

 

Cooking is more popular because it always smells goods. winky.gif

 

Sewing is an option in our art center. The students' schedules have blocks of unscheduled time, and the art center is always open. So one of their options is to sew. The teacher who runs the art center is a amazing and can provide help and guidance.

 

Shop can be taken as a class, but it also has blocks of time where it is open and students can do it as a drop in. It's hours aren't as extensive as the art center, though.

(The students can do what they want for part of their school week -- read a book, play a game with a friend, build something in shop, sew something, build with clay, etc.)

 

Cooking isn't a regular, for credit class, but a Friday afternoon activity. Some students end up just sampling the food and bringing the recipe home.

 

They also squeeze in their regular classes, but a lot of classes don't meet 5 days a week.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#19 of 60 Old 09-07-2011, 09:27 AM
 
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And some "nonworking" parents too! winky.gif
 

 


Sorry, I threw that in cause I'm kinda making a career of SAHMing and I do make sure my kids know how to keep the house running in case I kick the bucket suddenly.
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I enjoyed Home Ec.  There were boys in my class and I think everyone learned something beneficial.  Even if I still can't sew well.

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As long as they make the boys take it , too. Everyone should know how to put back on a button, make a simple meal, do laundry and shop well. Some working parents are so busy they forget to teach these things.

Does every sahm teach their children these things?  Cause my kids can do all of those things (I haven't taught my 5 year old how to sew on a button yet, but otherwise) and I work.  Not quite sure what working has to do with teaching your kids basic life skills.

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#21 of 60 Old 09-08-2011, 06:16 AM
 
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Maybe all those shouldn't be electives. I've met so many people who can't even thread a needle, don't know how to bake and get confused about how to fix something simple like a book shelf. I've noticed things become throw aways if theres a tear, or the bookcase leans. These things can be fixed, if they knew how to do it.

So along with balancing your checkbook learning how to type and PE... knowing how to take care of lifes surprises is a rather good idea.
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Maybe all those shouldn't be electives. I've met so many people who can't even thread a needle, don't know how to bake and get confused about how to fix something simple like a book shelf. I've noticed things become throw aways if theres a tear, or the bookcase leans. These things can be fixed, if they knew how to do it.

So along with balancing your checkbook learning how to type and PE... knowing how to take care of lifes surprises is a rather good idea.


It's funny, I've not met all these people who can't sew or cook or do simple household repairs.Sure, I've heard people joke "I can't cook" but that doesn't mean they don't actually cook... they just aren't gourmets. I volunteer in a costume shop and we always have parents (moms and dads and kids) coming in saying they can't sew but they just mean they are frightened by the serger. They can all thread a needle and put a button on. Most people I know really know their way around a power saw, build their own porches and such. It's just interesting because home ec and industrial arts was never a requirement when I was in school.

 

Maybe I just come across more industrial people in general.

 

 

 


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#23 of 60 Old 09-08-2011, 08:14 AM
 
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It's funny, I've not met all these people who can't sew or cook or do simple household repairs.Sure, I've heard people joke "I can't cook" but that doesn't mean they don't actually cook... they just aren't gourmets. I volunteer in a costume shop and we always have parents (moms and dads and kids) coming in saying they can't sew but they just mean they are frightened by the serger. They can all thread a needle and put a button on. Most people I know really know their way around a power saw, build their own porches and such. It's just interesting because home ec and industrial arts was never a requirement when I was in school.

 

Maybe I just come across more industrial people in general.

 

 

 


I have met quite a lot of people who can't sew on a button. They would have absolutely no idea what a serger is. Very few people I know build their own porches. This may be a city thing. I had to teach my DH to use a drill, he had never used one before we got together.

 

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Of course it's useful to know something about sewing, cooking, etc. - but it is realistic to think that kids are going to learn enough about those things in a junior high home ec class to really help them in life?  I don't think so.  When I took home ec in middle school, the single practical skill I took away from it was making popcorn.  IMO, it's not helpful enough for enough kids to justify requiring it.

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u know i dont think its a city thing. its a disconnect with growing food or knowledge of farmers or not born into a family that cooks (yeah i have met a lot of those). i have met people from small towns who dont cook. men esp.

 

and yeah i am not even talking about gourmet cooking. oh gosh bigeyes.gif VEGETABLES. do u know how many people i have met who know how to cook but have NO idea what to do with veggies. let alone a variety of veggies. i am lucky to the access i have to food. very lucky. and i am known as a gourmet cook in my circle. seriously. i consider that laughable. i am not labelled gourmet because i cook these fancy meals. but its because i can cook beets, kohlrabi, cabbage, kale, collard greens in a way they have never eaten before or never had some that tasted so good. all it is is roasting in the oven with olive oil and salt. that is it. i dont even take off the skin of the beets nor the tails. its because i can pick up an assortment of veggies and 'throw' things together without following a recipe. 

 

to me that is sad. really sad. 

 

and it has had a great impact on our lives. dd was so mercilessly teased in school that she would not take our regular food, but only socially approved food. its only in 3rd grade that she was finally able to stand up to them and bring whatever she wanted. they would tease her about salads. about having those green things - fresh herbs on her potatoes. however they love the flowers on her salad and dd is actually enjoying all the attention now and showing off her knowledge of veggies and that yeah you can eat flowers. 


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I think its the school's attempt to keep our civilization into turning into the movie Wall-E.

 

I think there is at least as much chance of a kid learning something in that class that will help them in life as in any of their other classes.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Of course it's useful to know something about sewing, cooking, etc. - but it is realistic to think that kids are going to learn enough about those things in a junior high home ec class to really help them in life?  I don't think so.  When I took home ec in middle school, the single practical skill I took away from it was making popcorn.  IMO, it's not helpful enough for enough kids to justify requiring it.


 

I agree. I've seen what they do in middle school home ec and my kids were beyond that level in 3rd grade. In fact, my kids can take apart and build stage sets, hang theatrical lights, wire sounds systems. DS learned how to fix the sprinkler system in our yard in 2nd grade. DD learned to knit when she was 11 (taught by her friends!) Both my kids have helped their grandparents restore furniture and have made their own costumes, sewn their own holes in clothing. Like I said, both cook meals on a regular basis.

 

Maybe it is where we live but we are in one of the largest counties in the country with like the 6th largest city I believe. We live in a rural pocket of our county but nothing compared to what others states would consider rural. I mean our "town" population is 60,000 people lol.

 

I just don't see making home ec a requirement when there are so many other avenues to explore that can't be explored at home. If they have families that won't/can't explore these subjects at home then sign them up for home ec. Let the rest of our kids take on real challenge and follow their interests. Personally, I would love my kids to take the high school auto shop class when they get to that point. To me, that would be an excellent skill that we personally can't offer much in... still can't see requiring it.

 

What I find interesting is most people who are gung ho for requiring home ec are people who already do this sort of thing with their kids. I'm all for having the skills but certainly, I don't want my kids to have to sit through other kids learning the basics.


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#28 of 60 Old 09-08-2011, 10:38 AM
 
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Eh, you either think its worth it or it's not. I grew up in a small town and it was normal to be able to do all that stuff, I was also homeschooled until high school so I learned a lot that way. In the bigger schools they have it but it's not necessary to take either.

Oh and my husband, I had to teach him how to change a tire, oil , filter and use a chainsaw when we had a bad storm come through. I've taught him how to sew, as we were in the military and sometimes we weren't in the position to get it sewn for us. I taught my neighbors wife how to use the oven... these people are out there. I don't think it's a huge deal to have it in schools for variety but I also see how it could be a nuisance if it's required and there are things you would rather take. In school we had to take a language, but all that was offered was spanish and french... really? I can see spanish, but french?
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#29 of 60 Old 09-08-2011, 10:50 AM
 
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I think it makes about as much sense to require it as any other class. It sucks if you already know the material, but that's the case with pretty much any required class.
 

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It's funny, I've not met all these people who can't sew or cook or do simple household repairs.Sure, I've heard people joke "I can't cook" but that doesn't mean they don't actually cook... they just aren't gourmets. I volunteer in a costume shop and we always have parents (moms and dads and kids) coming in saying they can't sew but they just mean they are frightened by the serger. They can all thread a needle and put a button on. Most people I know really know their way around a power saw, build their own porches and such. It's just interesting because home ec and industrial arts was never a requirement when I was in school.

 

Maybe I just come across more industrial people in general.

 

 

Yeah, I think your social group is more competent than average. They build their own porches?!?!?! yikes.gif I will describe myself as an example of the other side:

 

I'm 24 years old and moved out of my mom's house when I was 20.5, for the record. No kids yet. I didn't take home ec OR shop during my school years. Instead I took useless stuff like music theory, trigonometry, orchestra, and the world's crappiest (I hope) drivers' ed class. 

 

I think my sewing skills can be accurately summed up as "I can't sew." I can thread a needle (with some effort!) and kind of get a button on, but it's wobbly and will come off within a few days. Or sometimes immediately. If I sew on a decoration or mend a rip, it will look silly and will start to come undone in the next trip through the laundry. I don't know what a serger is, but I'm probably afraid of it. Hemming and altering are definitely out of the question. A tailor just opened up across the street, so I'm saving up to get all my ripped clothes repaired.

 

I can cook, but when I originally moved out, I was under the impression that chocolate cake, yellow cake, and pancakes were pretty complicated to make from scratch. (Even my former-professional-cook step-dad made pancakes from a mix!) Once when I was going through a vegan phase I paid out the nose for a vegan chocolate cake mix. I found out how easy it is when I needed recipes that didn't have synthetic ingredients. The boxed mixes for chocolate cake, yellow cake, and pancakes are pretty much a rip-off, because they're not easier to make with the box than they are to make from scratch. (And my choco cake recipe is even vegan.) So the fact that those products exist suggest a lot of other people are as confused as I was. Other cake flavors still elude me.
 

I likewise thought bread, pizza, rice, and mashed potatoes would be really hard to make from scratch, as with chocolate chip cookies to a lesser extant. (Though I can still see the appeal of instant/pre-made/delivered versions of those, so I don't think they're silly products.) When I moved back in with my mom after living on my own for a while, everyone was so impressed by my homemade pizza.

 

I didn't originally know about meal planning. Man, that seemed like a brilliant idea when I first stumbled on it. My mom never really meal-planned because her dishes usually only had one or two ingredients, e.g. ground beef + hamburger helper box, pork chop + seasoned salt, noodles + jar of sauce, can of veggies + blob of butter. So it wasn't really an idea I grew up with.

 

I was surprised to see "don't know how to fix a bookshelf" listed in this topic because it never occurred to me that the average person should be able to fix a bookshelf! My skills for fixing non-inflated furniture are pretty much limited to "put a book under it." I wouldn't dare use a saw. I once got some extra wood from my employer, and DP and I decided to make a small table for the living room. The result was hilariously bad... though technically functional... barely. Note that we didn't have to do any cutting or anything; we just had to nail it together. We eventually replaced it with something better we found by a dumpster, but there's still another table in the house which is actually a cardboard box.

 

I don't know how to change a tire or change the oil in my car. (Though I am aware that instructions exist online for changing oil, so I probably could learn if I really wanted... but I just take it to the mechanic.)

 

I don't know how to do household repairs. My DP apparently doesn't either. It's a good thing we live in an apartment and the landlord sends people to repair stuff for us, or it'd probably just stay broken. Since moving out of my mom's home, I have learned how to unclog drains with things like Draino (thanks, DP!) and trap mice (thanks, internet!).

 

I still struggle with cleaning tasks, and I don't know how to iron clothes. I've seen things like mopping and sweeping, and it looks easy enough, but it never seems to turn out right when I do it? I think I've got laundry down, but I just do the basics, no separating clothes or anything. In my parents' defense, they tried to teach me most of this stuff, but I grew frustrated and they gave up before I got very far. (I think I have some kind of issue that makes it hard for me to learn motor tasks.)

 

My mom didn't teach much about healthy versus unhealthy food, and when she did, it was pretty arbitrary. The pancakes from a boxed mix were healthy, for example. When we avoided what my parents considered junk food, it was just for financial reasons. Looking back, I consider pretty much everything my family ever ate to be junk food.

 

 

Quote:
Of course it's useful to know something about sewing, cooking, etc. - but it is realistic to think that kids are going to learn enough about those things in a junior high home ec class to really help them in life?  I don't think so.  When I took home ec in middle school, the single practical skill I took away from it was making popcorn.  IMO, it's not helpful enough for enough kids to justify requiring it.

 

Potentially true... but on the other hand I could probably say something similar about most other required classes. I'm pretty sure I wrote as well as I do now as of eighth grade, except for some stylistic improvements that came with years of practice writing as a hobby. But I still had to sit through four more complete years of English classes.... IMO, someone who is uneducated in home ec topics is more handicapped in daily life than someone who misses out on high-school-level English, Math, or Social Studies, and sometimes even junior-high-level English/Math/SS. So it makes sense to require it.

 

I agree with the "parents should teach their kids this stuff at home!" angle, but that can be said for a lot of other required classes. If everyone believed in teaching their kid basic life skills at home instead of sending them to school for it, wouldn't that pretty much entirely do away with elementary school? Too many people don't have the ability or inclination to teach their kids this stuff, for various reasons.

 

I think it really depends on what kind of curriculum they use. I could see it being useful, or it could be the home ec equivalent of my school's "drivers' ed" that didn't actually teach you how to drive. (It was a whole semester of nothing but a few defensive driving tips that they could have just given us in an hour-long presentation.)

 

 

Quote:
I've seen what they do in middle school home ec and my kids were beyond that level in 3rd grade. In fact, my kids can take apart and build stage sets, hang theatrical lights, wire sounds systems. DS learned how to fix the sprinkler system in our yard in 2nd grade. DD learned to knit when she was 11 (taught by her friends!) Both my kids have helped their grandparents restore furniture and have made their own costumes, sewn their own holes in clothing. Like I said, both cook meals on a regular basis.

 

I still don't know how to do any of that stuff! You have super-kids, as far as I can tell. Maybe it's normal in your area, but I don't think my friends normally knew how to do things like that either. My younger siblings definitely don't.

 

 

Quote:
What I find interesting is most people who are gung ho for requiring home ec are people who already do this sort of thing with their kids. I'm all for having the skills but certainly, I don't want my kids to have to sit through other kids learning the basics.

 

It'd be nice if there was a way to "test out"...

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It was required, both the home ex and shop for a quarter, when I was in middle school. And yeah, I already did most of those things at home (home ec anyway) but I was allowed to try a couple more elaborate/challenging things if I wanted, after the other work was done. And Shop was great for learning safety and respect for tools, and even using the tools to make things.

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