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The Value of Home Economics

Sep 16, 2011

by Chappell Ellison handmade and vintage goods

My grandmother cooked her first soufflé in her home economics class. For my mother, a costume designer, it’s where she learned how to sew. But by the time I made it to high school, home economics was an ancient relic that took place in a dusty classroom where social misfits learned to make queso from Velveeta.

Home economics has a lot to fight against in our school systems: limited budgets, gender stereotyping, and a huge uncoolness factor. Despite such obstacles, does home economics still have a necessary societal value? In a recent post on the Smithsonian’s blog, Jesse Rhodes argues that home ec classes might be a key in fighting obesity and a reexamination of what it means to live resourcefully. With today’s shaky economy and grocery stores that have become caloric minefields, a revamped home economics program is needed more than ever.

Home economics began as a reaction to a change in shopping habits. “By the late nineteenth century, American women had become consumers rather than producers of many household items, including food and clothing,” reports Cornell on the history of home economics. “As a result, home economists… promoted the idea that women needed to be educated about purchasing decisions.” At first, home economics classes provided invaluable information about health and hygiene. But by the 1960s, these principles were no longer the basis of an innovative classroom. Outdated and stale, home ec became the antiquated, gender-stereotyped program barely scraping by in most American schools today. “My first brush with home economics, as a seventh grader in a North Carolina public school two decades ago, was grim,” wrote Helen Zoe Veit in an op-ed for The New York Times. “The most sophisticated cooking we did was opening a can of pre-made biscuit dough, sticking our thumbs in the center of each raw biscuit to make a hole, and then handing them over to the teacher, who dipped them in hot grease to make doughnuts.”

UK College of Agriculture on Flickr

Home economics students serve a dinner that they prepared.

Today, our grocery stores would hardly be recognizable to our grandparents. Our clothing, so often made quick ‘n’ cheap, falls apart after minimal wear. Home economics could be a valuable program to help young adults navigate today’s challenges. There is hope — in California, the only state that still refers to its domestic science program as home ec, the program has evolved to suit more modern needs. With subjects like International Foods, Catering, or Food Service and Hospitality, California’s home economics program is gaining in popularity. “I think programs like [those on] the Food Network have made it more trendy,” Patricia Scott, a home economics teacher told The Los Angeles Times. Further, NPR recently delved into the nostalgia movement, a trend that has female authors encouraging readers to hearken back to the good ol’ days when we thrived on the bare minimum and found satisfaction in being frugal. “All of these [nostalgia] books talk about being resourceful, and that luxury doesn’t involve money,” says Sally Singer, editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. “It’s about knowing how to sew a patch on a garment or knowing how to darn a sock.”

I was beyond lucky, coming from a home with a mother who cooked healthy, square meals for the entire family. But sadly, not every child has such a positive home life and only learns how to grab junk food rather than chop vegetables. Home economics programs, much like art and music, are among the earliest victims when school districts attempt to stave off a budgetary crisis. Even if they aren’t cut from educational programs entirely, home economics is often underfunded. But just as young adults should be educated about the hazards of drugs, alcohol and sex, they should also have an understanding of healthy eating and home management — basic information that transcends gender, wealth and ethnicity.

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3 Featured Comments

  • milliumsgirl

    milliumsgirl said 6 years ago Featured

    Far from opening cans and pinching ready-mixed biscuit dough, my cooking classes mandated that everything be made from scratch! As a college Home Economics major in the early 70s, classes ranged from Early Childhood Education, Fashion Design, Dietetics, and Interior Design, to Home Management. Some of the required courses included anatomy/physiology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, psychology and economics. I felt that I left college with a very well-rounded education suitable for work in a number of interesting fields and was well-equipped to run and manage my own home. I've never regretted my choice!

  • matesrubbish

    matesrubbish said 6 years ago Featured

    Great article! I just listened to a "Stuff Your Mom Never Told You" podcast about the new "home ec" trend in the States. To support my misguided stance on feminism, I stayed away from anything resembling home ec in high school. As I've grown older, I've come to realize that what I did in high school was basically shoot myself in the proverbial foot. I undermined the power that comes with knowledge of domestic science, which encompasses everything from nutrition to geometry. Here's to hoping that the States will now acknowledge the domestic sciences to be just as important as any other school subjects.

  • pteems77

    pteems77 said 6 years ago Featured

    How about we call it by the correct name, Family and Consumer Sciences. I've taught in this field nearly 26 years and I'm proud to say it offers everything needed to survive today and in the future. FACS is even more important in today's economy. Basic life skills are necessary for everyone, male or female. Its hard to be healthy when you can't even boil water! This course isn't merely about the art of homemaking, it is the art of survivial and sustainability. This blog is wonderful but if you really want to express how you feel contact your local legislators. Tell them how you feel and how this program should remain in our sschools.


  • regiftstore

    regiftstore said 6 years ago

    Good article. I remember being shocked that my high school offered it, and I loved the class. I agree there's a good value in it these days because (in general) our kids aren't being raised to take care of themselves well when they are adults.

  • BeatificBijoux

    BeatificBijoux said 6 years ago

    Home Ec was still a requirement when I was in High School...guess that means I'm old. Totally agree that there are valuable things to be learned from these types of classes and a return to the true basics would be a boon in our current society. Had to laugh at the refrigerator biscuit comment. I remember making those in Girl Scouts!

  • warmnfuzzies

    warmnfuzzies said 6 years ago

    My home economics class in the late 70's left a lot to be desired. My skills were taught in 4-H classes. They were awesome. If your child's school no longer has home economics because of budget cuts, look into a local 4-H group. Mine was awesome, but maybe that's because my mom was a group leader. :) I also think the name "home economics" became a negative thing with the woman's lib movement.

  • stockannette

    stockannette said 6 years ago

    I just heard a home ec story on NPR last week! I wish I knew the basics of cooking; I got taken out of home ec to work on the yearbook!

  • funkomavintage

    funkomavintage said 6 years ago

    In the 60s, as a girl, there wasn't much I didn't already know by the time I got to jr high home-ec....Where did we get the idea that all kids don't need to know Home Economics? I'm happy to see, finally, both boys and girls, can take home-ec, and by the way, all the shop classes, that only boys could take back in the olde days. Everyone needs this learning! It's fun!

  • 02nvrmor

    02nvrmor said 6 years ago

    Great Article, I have been talking bout this issue for years. I am a high school photography teacher and I am blessed enough to still have funding. Just like automotive class these are necissary skills needed to survive. I am always shocked at how many of my students see my sewing maching sitting in the class room (I do costumes as well) and ask me to teach them how to sew. I can't believe that there aren't people in their lives that have taught them this skill before now. I was also blessed to have parents that made sure we learned these skills including changing a tire and the oil in my car.

  • ShastaCreations

    ShastaCreations said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article! I learned to sew in home ec - but sadly the cooking portion of the class was stupid - only remember making peach ice cream (in 1980) on a jelly roll pan in the freezer. Definately think there is so much more that could be taught to our kids today. I have 2 adult kids who barely know know how to cook a thing and think a good meal comes from a restaurant (unless they happen to be eating at my house).

  • swanmountainsoaps

    swanmountainsoaps said 6 years ago

    I've spent years acquiring the knowledge of home economics I never learned in school or at home (in a single parent household, who has the time to learn to make bread from scratch?). All I remember from my home ec class was learning how to properly measure margerine by putting water in the measuring cup. Yuck! As an adult though, I am deriving enormous amounts of satisfaction from learning to can foods, crochet, sew, and make everything I can from scratch, from soap to cheese, and yes even bread. This year we even got our first hives of bees! It's amazingly liberating, learning to do these things yourself. And it's even fun!

  • milliumsgirl

    milliumsgirl said 6 years ago Featured

    Far from opening cans and pinching ready-mixed biscuit dough, my cooking classes mandated that everything be made from scratch! As a college Home Economics major in the early 70s, classes ranged from Early Childhood Education, Fashion Design, Dietetics, and Interior Design, to Home Management. Some of the required courses included anatomy/physiology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, psychology and economics. I felt that I left college with a very well-rounded education suitable for work in a number of interesting fields and was well-equipped to run and manage my own home. I've never regretted my choice!

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 6 years ago

    Home ec can be about so much more than we remember it being in school. It can encompass overall home management tasks such as growing a garden, making home repairs, etc. The goal should be how to teach our children to move away from being part of a throw away society. My thought is that it should start with younger grades rather than high school age children because by the time a child reaches high school, gender biases are much more blatent. I cannot imagine an 11th grade boy be willing to take a home ec class...even in today's society. Good home management practice is important to both sexes as married couples share virtually all of the home management tasks it working outdoors or in the kitchen.

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 6 years ago

    Agreed. Although a lot can be said for learning healthy eating and home management in the home..

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article, thanks for fun.

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 6 years ago

    home economics might need a little update. it would be fantastic if they combined it with a nutrition course for students. both are sorely lacking. i learned how to microwave scrambled eggs in my class. this is coming from a home where my mom made everything from scratch and stocked with a few hundred cook books. i had read through the larousse gastronomique (english version) in grade school, bookmarking recipes i wanted my mom to make or for me to try to make with some help from my mom or dad. i managed to make real croissants. it was tough, rewarding work.

  • LoveTheBaby

    LoveTheBaby said 6 years ago

    Ironically, it seems that there is so much more potential for a home economics class than in previous years. I took home ec when I was in 9th grade. Our biggest project was sewing skirts (for girls) and vests (for boys). We had about three boys in our class, too. Then we had a fashion show, to which our parents were invited, styling the clothes we had sewn. My sister and I were in the same class and we also took an extra curricular sewing class in high school. We were both even in FHA-Future Homemakers of America. We even went to a state-wide FHA convention in San Antonio. And amazingly, I was a homemaker for over 8 years! And it was during that time that I, like swanmountainsoaps above, learned to do so many interesting things like quilt, garden, can, raise chickens, cook, bake, essentially live from scratch. And I agree, it is satisfying to find you can do so much centered around the home. Thanks for the article. It brings back good memories.

  • mitzoblitzo

    mitzoblitzo said 6 years ago

    Well I am a home economics teacher! I graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas in 2004 with a degree in "Home Ecoonomics." Home ec is now referred to as FCS or Family and Consumer Sciences; the name was changed in the late 90's as well as the organization name from FHA to FCCLA. FHA or Future Homemaker of America was the organization that paired with the curriculum that was taught in the Home Economics department; FCCLA or Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America is the revamped FHA organization that is paired with FCS. The face of home ec has changed enormously! Yes we still do cooking and sewing but the emphasis is more on the nutrition side of food and the evaluation of quality clothing. I also teach a culinary arts class in which students are being prepared for culinary school and we use terminology and practices that are found in a commercial kitchen. My school kitchen is also acompletely commercial equipment. We just recently took out the "Betty Crocker Kitchens" (the ones that each had their own stove, sink, plates, cups, etc.) and it is now so professional! We also teach hospitality and tourism courses, fashion design courses, housing and interior design, and education and training courses. All of these fields are vital and worthy of being taught! Even though we are teaching life skills that students can truly apply to their life and/or careers, we still are looked down upon as the "cooking or sewing class". I am proud to be able to say that I actually do have students who come back and see me and say that they use the things that they learned in my class. How many history, science, and math teachers can say that??? If you have a skill that relates to this field, contact your local high school and ask if they have a FCS department. I'm sure they would LOVE for you to come demo how what you learned has impacted your life in a positive way. I know I would!!!

  • YarnUiPhoneApp

    YarnUiPhoneApp said 6 years ago

    I took Home Ec...the thing I remember most is a shoe horn I made in the wood-working class and then a pillow from terry cloth wash towels...dumb and not very useful stuff. I've learned more about sewing in the last few years than I ever did in school or classes. I'm much more motivated now than I was then..which is to say Home Ec is much more useful when students see a purpose or a way to make $ from what they are learning. Otherwise, it's a waste of time. As for clothes falling apart, this isn't anything new...clothes fell apart back in the 1950s...and during the 1960s there was the fad of paper dresses, which fell apart on purpose. Now we use the same paper fabric for eco-friendly bags to take to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. These fall apart and fray with wear and tear. Nothing new under the sun here!

  • Guchokipa

    Guchokipa said 6 years ago

    Home Ec classes are still alive in kicking in Japanese schools. In fact, when boys were made to take the classes as part of their schedule, the society as whole noticed a significant difference in the type of man those students became. Most women divide men into two groups: those who are helpless on the homefront and those more "liberal" men who can take care of themselves AND even help their wives, sometimes. The latter are the home ec guys. Learning how to sew and cook also helps explain why Japan has an awesome surplus of amazing sewing and cooking supplies. People actually use those things here.

  • UrbanBirdandCo

    UrbanBirdandCo said 6 years ago

    I was disappointed that my schools didn't offer home ec, I had been taught how to sew, cook, cross stitch, quilt, personal finances, etc by my mother but I had wanted to expand those skills and actually get over my fear of the sewing machine. Now my sewing machine collects dust as I look at it longingly, wishing I knew how to use it and every time I have an idea for a new outfit I'd love to create I curse the public school system for exorcising home ec from the curriculum and not teaching me how to use or make a sewing pattern. While my mom could have taught me, she usually found me to be an impatient student, at least with school they were kind of forced to put up with me. :)

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 6 years ago

    i definitely think home ec is very important in education. actually, i don't think there is enough importance placed on it. children should have a balanced education. growing food, taking care of a home, reading, math, etc.... they are all equally important.

  • AliKan

    AliKan said 6 years ago

    As a student of an elite all boys school we don't do Home economics, gender stereotyping yes!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago

    Nice article.

  • KitschDesigns

    KitschDesigns said 6 years ago

    I LOVED my Home Ec classes in middle and high school and have always been sad at how they were stereotyped as lame or just for girls. Knowing how to sew, cook for yourself, basic home maintenance and budgetting are paramount for ANYONE...not just those of us struggling in a rough economy. As I get older I am often surprised at how many of my friends really don't have a clue when it comes to the simple tasks of managing a home. I have to wonder how they got this far without starving, having their house crumble around them or starving to death?? The one thing I know is that I don't know it all and am constantly learning. I believe Home Ec is about as simple as it gets and we all should go through these courses at some point during our early education. Ok, I'm off my soap box now. ;o)

  • matesrubbish

    matesrubbish said 6 years ago Featured

    Great article! I just listened to a "Stuff Your Mom Never Told You" podcast about the new "home ec" trend in the States. To support my misguided stance on feminism, I stayed away from anything resembling home ec in high school. As I've grown older, I've come to realize that what I did in high school was basically shoot myself in the proverbial foot. I undermined the power that comes with knowledge of domestic science, which encompasses everything from nutrition to geometry. Here's to hoping that the States will now acknowledge the domestic sciences to be just as important as any other school subjects.

  • dawnhouser

    dawnhouser said 6 years ago

    love this article. i still keep in contact with my home ec teacher, mrs. jenkins. we learned so much in her classes.

  • Lifemintsweet

    Lifemintsweet said 6 years ago

    Great article! I loved Home Ec and the confidence it gave me for my future. Learning the basic skills of cooking, housing, and sewing seemed so outdated at the time and I honestly believed I'd never use that knowledge. I'm so glad I took those courses. I find myself using what I learned years ago almost everyday :)

  • Forest4TheTrees

    Forest4TheTrees said 6 years ago

    Great article! I hope it gains momentum in the populace. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and post it.

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 6 years ago

    I dearly wish that both Home Economics and Shop Class had still existed at my high school. Thank you for the wonderful article and excellent links.

  • thehappycouple

    thehappycouple said 6 years ago

    I loved my 8th grade home-ec teacher Mrs. Willam. We cooked, sewed and learned to make pie from our male principal. I loved the hands on, book free time at school. I think Home Ec could be brought back in a valuable way not only because so many kids these days are home alone taking care of themselves, but also to teach about careers and maybe even small business.

  • michemozaix

    michemozaix said 6 years ago

    My kids and I were just talking about this topic yesterday! I took home ec. in the 70's when most schools were starting to phase it out. It definitely needs to be brought back but with a modern twist. Adding stuff like household budgeting could really help today's youth. My kids (who range in age from 26 to 13; 4 boys , 1 girl) and I are working on a cool re-vamped 'home ec' show for public access tv and the web. We hope to eventually have it picked up by the Food Network or some such other entity. (Anybody wanting to know more can contact me through a convo.) Thanks for this post... it's inspired us further!

  • ChristinaKosinski

    ChristinaKosinski said 6 years ago

    They say history repeats itself. Well I for one am waiting for it to come back to home ec in schools. I know so many young people both male and female that have no clue as to how to boil water.. When the Zombies attack they will be instant food! LOL Survival of those that can cook! LOL

  • littleshopofphotos

    littleshopofphotos said 6 years ago

    Very interesting article. So informative...and true!! Many young people don't really know how to "do" things anymore...just pay someone else who does! Lol. I suppose it's just easier. Hopefully these skills will be seen as useful and necessry and will find their way back into schools...

  • lexically

    lexically said 6 years ago

    My Granny was a Home Ec teacher in the 50s! It takes a lot of effort and attention to run a home properly. I'm still trying to get the hang of it. I always find it shocking when people comment on how "domestic" I am - there's so much more I could be doing.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    It's sad that children and youth can't sew on a button or sew a small tear. They only know how to use a microwave. I never had home ec, but I grew up in a era that required girls in general to have home making skills. The schools should reinstate it .

  • anderson1210

    anderson1210 said 6 years ago

    I work at the same public school as MitzoBlitzo, and we both have the same degree from the same university. She teaches mainly our Culinary classes and our Interior Design courses. I cover Fashion Design, Education & Training, Hospitality & Tourism, and Child Development. These classes have come a long way from just cooking and sewing. I firmly believe that our young people are at a loss if they do not take these courses. Some of the comments above have stated that they didn't really learn anything in their Home Economics class back during their time in school, but let me tell you, you would be greatly surprised to know just how informative and beneficial these classes are now. If the teacher is teaching it properly, the students gain much needed life skills and knowledge. My Child Development class covers parenting skills, relationship skills, the dangers and consequences of teen parenthood, sex education, birth, and how important the decision to have or not have children is in their lives now and for the future! These classes are not just for girls....the boys need to be right there too! I am proud to know that students agree with me that these classes are important. I have had students say that they think my class should be a required class to graduate. Please support your local FCS teachers and programs, and if your school doesn't have one, talk to your school board repeatedly until you do!

  • VintageAdele

    VintageAdele said 6 years ago

    I learned everything I know from fashion, home ec, and textiles class.

  • TandJsoaps

    TandJsoaps said 6 years ago

    Thank you! Last year our district cut our entire home ec program out at the high school. BIG MISTAKE. This is after cutting the art and music program down. I believe the more we learn towards just focusing on the 3 r's in school, the more our education systems are letting our students down. I may be biased because I am a high school art teacher (now VERY part-time), but our students WANT to learn how to cook and how to fix things. They look forward to it and the sense of gratification that comes along with it. They get frustrated when they can't, or are not taught the proper way.

  • bullfrogsalvage

    bullfrogsalvage said 6 years ago

    I ran into two thirty-something women a while back in a Target store. They were deep in discussion about rice (one of the most basic of all foods -and cheapest). One claimed she did not know how to cook rice. I was horrified by this until the second one said that she did not know that one COULD cook rice! I don't know what to add to this!

  • TerriGarciaDesigns

    TerriGarciaDesigns said 6 years ago

    I taught the home ec basics to my son when he was young. He really caught on to cooking and even taught his girlfriends' mother the right way to measure. I hope she took his lesson kindly, LOL. Since home ec was mandatory when I was in school I assumed it still was. Imagine my surprise to find out different. Everyone should have those BASIC skills, men & women alike. We all have to eat, and we'd all be healthier if we knew how to cook a good meal. Excellent idea Michemozaix!

  • adamsgifts87

    adamsgifts87 said 6 years ago

    My grandma was a home ec teacher for years; she taught my mom before my mom even met my dad. (didn't lead to very good in-law relations, but that's another story!) I learned from my mother how to read a recipe, use a sewing machine, shop, budget, clean and improvise. My grandma taught me the "feminine arts"... crochet, embroidery, things like that. I've always thought it's a parent's job to make sure their child is able to function in the real world. Thankfully my mother-in-law agreed; my husband does the laundry, I do the dishes, and we get along wonderfully!

  • barefootdancin

    barefootdancin said 6 years ago

    As a family and consumer sciences teacher (the new term for home ec) I believe that I teach one of the most important roles of to make decisions. I have taught everything from housing, clothing, foods and nutrition, floral design, finacial literacy, child development and child lab. I LOVE my job as it allows me to be creative, innovative and most of all inspired. Most of all I love when students come back to me and thank me for teaching them the art of living a happy life!!

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak said 6 years ago

    what a great article. My mother is a retired home ec teacher. She used to teach us all outside the classroom. She would even have the neighbors' kids over for lessons. Happy times.

  • PruAtelier

    PruAtelier said 6 years ago

    This article could not be more timely in a world saddled with the woes of unemployment! Practical living knowledge....that's what most people who don't know how to do need, and those who can do want to expand on. Absolutely the schools must pick up the mantle again and fill in where generations of parents who never had those skills left off. As we are once again becoming through necessity - and not through industry that has all but disappeared - artisans and makers, we would do well to encourage the teaching of these skills to the young people. America and even the world CAN do it again....they just need the training and encouragement....the interest and will is already there for many!

  • ExLibrisJournals

    ExLibrisJournals said 6 years ago

    Even at my age now, I would love to take a home economics class. I think it would be a great way to learn how to be more resourceful and efficient in the home. Wonder if they offer any at local colleges?

  • mythreebelles

    mythreebelles said 6 years ago

    I homeschool our twin daughters who are in 5th gr.I got them a Home is a lost art..My husband was taught how to cookn by his mom..I think everyone should be able to keep a house,cook and do what it takes to have a successful homelife...

  • ALookOfLove

    ALookOfLove said 6 years ago

    I loved my home ec class. We did the basic stuff... I learned how to sew a pin cushion, sew pj pants (which i loved and wore until they were darn near transparent), and cook a few items (I seriously can't remember how we learned to make an omelet and I have since given up trying! Scrambled it is!) I even had baby-think-it-over for an entire weekend. Did anyone else? It was a robot doll of sorts... cried at random times (including three times overnight), recorded how often I held it, recorded how often the baby's head was able to tilt to far back (gotta support the head!) I got a car seat and a diaper bag and bottles and everything. Let me tell you, I was EXHAUSTED that Monday. I'm trying to remember what year that was that I had that doll... Oh I remember, 1999. I have so many good and useful memories from that class that I cringe at the thought of never being given the opportunity. It wasn't all girls either... the boys did everything we did and they actually had fun and did quite well! ~Mary

  • ALookOfLove

    ALookOfLove said 6 years ago

    tilt *too* far back, sorry for the typo!

  • ivegonemod

    ivegonemod said 6 years ago

    Oh thank you so much for such a long overdue acknowledgement of this critical area of study. I'm a home ec teacher who graduated from Hood College in Frederick Maryland (not that many years ago) and had amazing resources available to teach from while living there. Alas, upon moving back to the Southwest, I was only able to sustain my employment for ten years as we were phased out of the curriculum first at the middle school level and now most high schools only have one teacher on staff with limited resources (most home ec labs/kitchens/sewing labs were absconded and repurposed into other areas). I taught Foods and Nutrition, Child Development, Fashion Merchadising and Human Relations. At least two, if not more generations have missed learning basic home survival skills. I'm fascinated to see the resurge of interest of home arts. Now if only the funding were available to bring these courses back. I'll hang onto my certification...maybe one day I'll have another chance to teach these beloved skills again. A girl can hope! Until then, I have Etsy to keep my creative fires burning. As to the college hopeful colleges have amazing courses!

  • modernhomeec

    modernhomeec said 6 years ago

    I can't have a shop with this name and not comment :) I too have a BS in Home Economics. I was in the last class at the University of Wyoming to have such a distinction as the next year (1999) it was changed to Family and Consumer Sciences. I used my undergrad degree to become a Registered Dietitian. The FCS field has grown so greatly it has become an umbrella under which many careers have sprouted. I encourage you to look at this website (link below) and check out the options available. I also encourage you to look at the section pertaining to the history of FCS. You will find home economics programs begun back in the day provided the first advanced education and professions for women. FCS is deeply rooted in what I like to term "the real women's liberation" during the time of the sufferage movement. Check it out: Can you guess why the name of my shop now? I love

  • WeddingAmbience

    WeddingAmbience said 6 years ago

    Thank you for the wonderful article! As someone who has always enjoyed cooking, sewing and crafts, I studied Home Economics shortly after it was renamed FCS at a California University and was fortunate to pair it with a business degree. Like a few others mentioned the FCS cirriculum was pretty tough and included courses such as nutrition and organic chemistry. When I graduated college, I had no idea what I would do with my degrees as they seemed to focus on such different worlds. Fortunately, after using many of the skills to raise a family, I am now able to use my collective skills to run my Esty shop! I read so many comments about shop owners not knowing how to price or market their good and on the flip side Etsy isn't a venue for those who are soley business minded with no creative skills. I hope that highschools and universities will recognize that there is potentially a huge creative workforce out there and that with the proper training and refinement of their creative skills they can be future small business owners. Thanks again for the great article.

  • AmberGypsySky

    AmberGypsySky said 6 years ago

    I rather enjoyed my Home Ec classes. That's where I learned to use a sewing machine :) Consumerism has taken so manyy skills away. What we now call DIY were just the norm o' way back when and you had to make it yourself or you didn't have it at all.

  • cactusscraps

    cactusscraps said 6 years ago

    Our home-ec class consisted of taking premade cookie dough, scooping it onto the sheets, baking, then the piles of hundreds of cookies went to the teachers lounge. We got one each. The sewing portion was so basic I had it done in one evening. Luckily my mother cooked, sewed, and taught me everything I needed. I can't imagine anyone learning anything in those classes and being able to do it on their own later.

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 6 years ago

    I remember popovers and pineapple upside down cake from Home Ec. Most valuable for me was the sewing instruction. A confidence instilling experience. As someone who cooks from scratch every night, I gotta say it's overrated!

  • kstambaugh1

    kstambaugh1 said 6 years ago

    my mother graduated with a home ec degree (teacher). but she slowing transitioned into history since so many school systems were phasing it out. it's a great class for everyone!

  • joyfulbydesign

    joyfulbydesign said 6 years ago

    Just made chili and corn bread from scratch ~ yum yum!

  • AukinasGoddess

    AukinasGoddess said 6 years ago

    love this article. thank you.

  • Waterrose

    Waterrose said 6 years ago

    I really loved home ec. I was amazed when all of those programs were shut down, since it certainly is the basis of family life to understand what was taught in those classes. Ours even touched on caring for babies/children. Plus managing a household budget. The cooking part was great....since you got to eat the goodies when you were all done!

  • chfisher512

    chfisher512 said 6 years ago

    I took home ec in the early 1980's, and along with typing, I think it was one of the most valuable classes I took! Academics were always a struggle, I loved a class that taught me some practical skills I could use. In addition to academics, it would be smart for schools to offer home ec. I think a lot of people are lacking practical skills that will help them in life. So many people can't balance a check book, operate on a budget, cook, sew a button or iron a shirt. In tough economic times this skills can be amazing money savers too. I think people would be amazed by the sense of resourcefulness and satisfaction that comes from doing things for themselves.

  • Nikifashion

    Nikifashion said 6 years ago

    Great article!

  • NutfieldWeaver

    NutfieldWeaver said 6 years ago

    I plead guilty to being a social misfit. "Home economics" is mandatory for all 7th and 8th graders in our school district but has been given a new name: "Family And Consumer Technology Sciences" or "FACTS," as the kids call it. They even teach the kids (who don't already know) how to wash their own clothes. My two boys each made their own gym bags -- complete with zipper -- and they know how to make mac n' cheese FROM SCRATCH. "First, you make something called a roux..." All is not yet lost.

  • dahlilafound

    dahlilafound said 6 years ago

    Home ec was an elective at my intermediate school in the 70s. We had 4 small built-in kitchens and we had to give cooking demonstrations for our midterms. I also sewed my first--and last--blouse there. Honestly, I loved--& better remember--woodshop class, as our shop teacher was incredibly cool & our home ec teacher was this dreadful pinched face spinster. Perhaps, if they had combined the two--carve salad bowls, tongs, bread boards, make stews instead of cakes, it would have been a lot more fun. :-)

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    Some modernized version should be offered in Middle school for both boys and girls. If you're going to make them climb a rope in a mandatory gym class you may as well teach them to cook an egg or sew a button. I have never once climbed a rope since I graduated.

  • peaseblossomstudio

    peaseblossomstudio said 6 years ago

    What a great article! I recently commented in another Storque article that schools need to bring back Home Ec. I came from a home where my mother cooked and sewed and grew up learning to do the same. There should be no shame in learning domestic skills and there is great value in knowing how to provide yourself with food, and clothing-two basic human needs.

  • ivegonemod

    ivegonemod said 6 years ago

    Well said Parachute425...the skills taken from a home ec curriculum will serve you a lifetime. Ask any parent and they will tell you...running a home is tantamount to running a small business and must be managed all day, every day. Nutrition and exercise management, consumerism and personal finances, clothing selection and maintenance, interior design and management, landscape design and management, interpersonal communications, early childhood education and development and oftentimes geriatic communications and management, work flow distributions, resource allocations and management, time and recreation management and the list goes on. This isn't cookie baking and apron sewing's life, and unless we were fortunate enough to have parents training us in those as we grew up (which many of us didn't because we had the first or second generation career mothers AND fathers), we either got the skills from grandparents, teachers or sadly, we didn't get them. And with that, I will now step off of my soapbox. :)

  • 2007musarra

    2007musarra said 6 years ago

    While I was in middle school in the early 80's we still had home econ. We actullay had a group of classes that boys and girls alike had to atttend. There was Sewing, Cooking, Metal Smithing, Wood class and last but not least typing! I would say that each of these classes taught me to proud of each item that I produced with my own hands. My father still has the mail holder and bird house that I made and displays them proudly at his house. I think it is sad that people don't know how to cook or make something with there hands in most walks of life! I think Americans in General could use lessons on how to depend on yourself to eat other than fast food. I think they should learn how to sew a button on other than to buy a new cheap shirt ! Most of all I think that we should be prideful of our artists and makers for the quality of work and home made goodness of it all. Rock on Etsians, Rock on!

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 6 years ago

    Loved your article - is'nt that sad that it became an uncool subject for drop outs - I come from the era of doing "Home Economics" and it still being cool and learning valuable things! (Not mixed boys and girls though, that was unheard of). We did cooking and sewing and I loved it! That was most probably my grounding for all I know and more today! Yah!

  • gilstrapdesigns

    gilstrapdesigns said 6 years ago

    We made everything from scratch oh yea and the sewing classes. I really did like what we called back then Home Making classes. I remember I was in the Future Homemakers of America does anyone remember that? Back then the boys didn't take Home Making classes the boys took Metal Shop and Wood Shop classes. Now I wish I could have taken Wood Shop and Metal Shop that's were my husband Don learned and fell in love with working with wood so it did pay off.

  • Xcaliburwomenapparel

    Xcaliburwomenapparel said 6 years ago

    I enjoyed home ed. On Fridays we were able to cook what we had planned all week. We worked in junior high and high school with boys in our groups. Some of them grew up to be famous local chefs. I wanted to be an fashion designer. I would watch my mother sew my brother and sisters clothes over the years. I would use her machine during her resting intervals. I learned from my grandmother creating quilts and my mother sewing. Now that I retired that's what I'm doing. Sewing and making jewelry. Its art.

  • thevelvetheart

    thevelvetheart said 6 years ago

    So well said! I really hope that home ec classes are around for my kids. And I already plan to do what I can at home to teach them about being resourceful and being able to take care of yourself, including cooking healthy meals...

  • Briole

    Briole said 6 years ago

    This was a great article, very thought provoking! Thanks for sharing.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 6 years ago

    Everyone should have the basic skills to be able to look after themselves in their own home. Much as I HATED Home Ec classes when I was at school (I always wanted to do woodwork with the boys) I learnt the basic cooking & sewing that my career-oriented mother never had time to teach me. At least I knew I wouldn't starve & I could sew on a button instead of throw away the shirt.

  • Macramaking

    Macramaking said 6 years ago

    Excellent article! Luckily I had a grandmother who was a domestic Goddess! My mom was career oriented, but could still cook, iron, sew, etc... I was also lucky enough to have a dad who was in sales for a company who had samples of all the latest crafts of the 70's-80's...I loved Home Ec! We learned how to do laundry, how to iron, how to make tea, how to do hair, how to wire a lamp, how to do leather work, how to type, ceramics, woodworking, and gardening.... I would love to see all that as a requirement in all schools now, updated, of course... At least now my 14 year old son is taking a class in high school called "food".. maybe it's a start! Loved the article! Thank you!

  • IWillFly

    IWillFly said 6 years ago

    I went to college in California and we called our "home ec" department (from which I have my degree) "family and consumer sciences". The department covered my entire section (fashion and clothing construction, which has since broken away in to it's own department) as well as food prep, early childhood development and education, etc. High school home ec is a joke, though. All I can remember is balancing a fake checkbook every week and groaning through a showing of "lord of the flies" for some reason!

  • zwzzy

    zwzzy said 6 years ago

    I've always been jealous of the home ec of the past. I had a blast in my high school's "cooking" class. I know I would've bent over backwards for any type of sewing class. I have my mother's old folder full of fabric swatches that she had to make in the 60s for home ec, it's amazing! (I too grew up with well rounded meals every day, thanks to her learnings!)

  • TheDancersSpirit

    TheDancersSpirit said 6 years ago

    Love this article. I had a Home Ec class in middle school and I loved it. I remember making monkey bread and a few other treats and learning how to balance a check book. By high school, the classes were separated into sewing or cooking. I stuck with sewing classes for two years. I still have the first project we sewed (a pin cushion) as well as a quilt and a pair of the most comfortable flannel PJ pants. I don't know what school officials are thinking when they omit Physical Education, Home Ec, or any domestic kind of classes. School should not be all about Math, Science, and English. There are more important things in life; more realistic situations that children should be learning to work through.

  • UrbanBirdandCo

    UrbanBirdandCo said 6 years ago

    Just to husband took home ec in school and can sew better than I can!

  • MerrygoldStateOfMind

    MerrygoldStateOfMind said 6 years ago

    Great article! I wish I had had a more thorough home ec education when I went through school. I am now teaching myself, at twenty, things that my grandmother learned when she was ten or even likely younger.

  • OnlyOriginalsByAJ

    OnlyOriginalsByAJ said 6 years ago

    Fantastic article! I grew up in the 80s and we didn't really have home ec education in school. Luckily, my grandmother is an avid baker and my mother learned to cook from her mom, who was a fantastic cook of Dutch food. But, it wasn't until I started a family of my own that I truly appreciated the fine art of cooking. I love to cook and bake and am thankful that even though I learned about it in my 20s, I manage to make time to do it ever week!

  • hebo Admin

    hebo said 6 years ago

    Great article, Chappell! Our co-Ed home ec class in HS was kind of a joke, but my major in college is a modern transformation of a home ec degree, which now focuses more on business, the fashion industry and fiber science, while food has split into another major with a scientific twist. Sewing is an invaluable skill that I use weekly, but learning the processes of manufacturing and materials has made me a more informed consumer, and will be even more valuable down the road when I have a family of my own!

  • justbuyin

    justbuyin said 6 years ago

    I'm not sure where Ms. Veit went to school, but I grew up in NC, and was in High school in the 90s. We learned sewing, money management, first aid and how to do everything in the kitchen from poaching an egg to candy making. And we did fun, crafty things like ceramics and home decorating.

  • soule

    soule said 6 years ago

    I agree schools need Home EC, I learned to sew and cook in that class, along side my mother also, I cook 95% of our meals at home, we grow 20% of our food and we make sure to have a sit down,together, dinner every night, we don't start eating until everyone is at the table. Both my son (16) and daughter (10) learn cooking,cleaning, laundry etc... from me. We don't own a microwave,a toaster or a TV! Although my family is "high tech" I like to keep our home simple and traditional....

  • WildPoppyFrameCo

    WildPoppyFrameCo said 6 years ago

    Great article! I agree so much that kids these days are not learning some of the basic skills that are necessary to living. Almost everyone at some point needs to be able to live frugally, and that means knowing how to do things for yourself . . an art that seems to be uncommon lately. Without these basic life skills, the younger generations are being thrown out into society without the tools they need to succeed. Give your children every tool they will need to create a successful and fulfilling life for themselves!

  • studiorandom

    studiorandom said 6 years ago

    It'd be great, if they actually *would* teach kids anything useful about nutrition. Problem is, the schools are federally funded and so they'll be expected to change their curriculum every time the USDA changes its mind about what's going to kill us. And honestly, I agree vegetables have at least some place in the diet, but I'm getting a bit tired of people treating them like magical anti-obesity pills that will guarantee long life and an absence of disease. Most of them are so low-calorie that if they were all you ever ate, you would have to spend all day eating, just like cows do and you'd probably still be hungry by bedtime because your brain's an energy hog. If you want to know what's *really* missing from the cooking curriculum, for adults as well as for kids, that would be knowing how to prepare *animal foods.* Trust me on this, and I know most of you will not want to hear it because you're on the vegan bandwagon right now. There will come a time when you can't stand hurting and feeling sick anymore and you won't have a clue what to do with anything at the meat counter. And that's you. Omnivores are just as clueless nine times out of ten. I'm having to learn all this stuff now because when I was a kid everyone wanted to teach me how to bake and how to cook noodles but no one bothered teaching me so much as how to fry hamburger. That's just criminal, and it's one of the reasons Big Ag has gotten away with CAFO operations for so long--we don't know what healthy meat tastes like anymore, so we have one less reason to hold them accountable.

  • studiorandom

    studiorandom said 6 years ago

    And let me add that it's kind of insane that we're all sitting here talking about this and we're supposed to be creative. So... Why aren't *we* teaching our kids this stuff? Why are we sitting around debating what and how much the schools should teach them in this area? If we've had the kids, that is OUR job. You can argue that only teachers have special enough knowledge to impart reading and math to our children, and I'll just have to agree to disagree with you on that one, but seriously, do you not know how to clean a house? If you do know, it's your job to pass that on, just like you passed on walking and talking. You know?

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop said 6 years ago

    My mother was a Home-Ec teacher in Brooklyn for many, many years until they phased it out an not necessary to the NYC school system. She then had to teach Family-Something-or-Other where she showed kids how to put condoms on bananas. ( I kid you not!) But her specialty was Foods and she was a really good cook, who served balanced meals without us noticing. They phased that out she taught sewing for years. And while sewing was not her thing, she taught loads of kids, boys and girls, how to use a sewing machine and follow a pattern. She certainly started me early and I was using a sewing machine at a very young age. I know that my sister and I certainly benefited from having a mother who knew her way around a household. It is such a shame that it Home-Ec has been phased out everywhere because these kids really need to know how to make eggs and do a hem or button. The condom they've already mastered and none of them needed fruit to help.

  • allwrappedupcoffee

    allwrappedupcoffee said 6 years ago

    Thank you for this article. I graduated 5 years ago with my BS in Family & Consumer Sciences. Despite the constant teasing about being a "home ec" major, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I was prepared for both a career and my family life. It's such an amazing field that has expanded beyond basic cooking and sewing skills. My coursework included nutrition, resource management, family systems theory, and economics. If you have never read about Ellen Swallow Richards, the founder of the field, please do. She was an amazing and inspiring woman.

  • artworksbycarol

    artworksbycarol said 6 years ago

    allwrappedupcoffee You're inspiring also.It takes many talents to run and manage a good household.Too many women have short changed the importance of home life.

  • mandymoomoo

    mandymoomoo said 6 years ago

    My home ec class in Jr. High (14 years ago) was a complete joke. Making queso from Velveeta about sums up that class. I thought it was sad then, and now I find it a little upsetting. If I had had a home ec class of that calibur it would have saved me a lot of trouble later on. Things are only going to be worse for my daughters if they don't have this class. Even though I try to teach them what I can I'm working full time, it would be a huge benefit to them to learn these valuable skills in school. Sure, our country is behind on our academics, but maybe we should take a step back and start with some basics... how to run a household and improve the lives our families. allwrappedupcoffee, I'm also impresses with you!

  • squibbles76

    squibbles76 said 6 years ago

    At Permian High School in Odessa, TX (Friday Night Lights-show is so far off from the real deal) we learned how to make from scratch both food, drink, pillows, clothes and more. I had a great time in there. As our final exam, we had to serve a full room party for our own relatives. And get this...a ton of jocks were in there, male jocks! Half I had a crushes on. That's my kind of Home Ec. Good food, good clothes, hot guys and well...erm I'm married now so I better stop there.

  • squibbles76

    squibbles76 said 6 years ago

    @allwrappedupcoffee...I didn't know they had that as a major. I was so not informed about college back in high school. As the only one in either side of my family that went was a grandmother. I so would have kicked Ace taking that as a major!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    I agree! I think in the UK I was one of the last generation of people who did Home Economics, its only fairly recently that its gone from schools. Its so sad to see kids unable to cook, iron their own shirts and other basic skills. Not all kids have the benefit of skilled adults!

  • PieceofPeace

    PieceofPeace said 6 years ago

    I don't think I would be on Etsy today had it not been for my 7th grade Home Ec teacher, Mrs. Carr. She taught me to sew, embroider, and cook. She probably taught other things also, but those were the only things I enjoyed (and remember).

  • TheHickoryTree

    TheHickoryTree said 6 years ago

    Home Ec in my high school was a graduation requirement for girls as well as the guys. We learned sewing, cooking, cleaning, managing household finances. It was great - it was 1 part of a 3 core requirement consisting of Wood Shop, Auto Mechanics and Home Ec. I loved it, and most of the guys did too. Wonderful memories and great projects. I also met my first boyfriend while making lasagna 4th hour my freshman year.

  • Ejeza

    Ejeza said 6 years ago

    The saddest part about this is that in many places school funding is being cut and one of the first thing to go in many districts is the home economics.

  • bluepoppyseed

    bluepoppyseed said 6 years ago

    Beginning in the 7th grade we had to take Home Ec for one quarter (art, music, and hmm something else took the others). I must say at first i was excited by the idea of sewing and cooking but our version became super boiled down. In high school it was an elective and there was no way I was taking that again. I'm lucky that my mom taught me how to cook and showed me the basics of canning. Today I have worked hard to teach myself to sew, knit, and other "domestic" tasks. These are the parts of my day I love... canning beautiful jars of fruits and veggies, making meals that are in season, fresh, and local and making beautiful objects to adorn my home. I wish our Home ec classes were more meaningful in school but I really wonder if I would have paid attention and took something from them. Back then doing anything domestic was boring. I was determined to be a career woman. I didn't realize you could do it all. I wonder what my 16 year old self would think of me now...

  • flourishingagain

    flourishingagain said 6 years ago

    I still remember Home Ec and Shop classes in my small town school, late nineties and my entire grade was a little over sixty kids. Required for 2 years in a row for trimesters, the other 2 were shop and speech. Incidently, my school was so small we didnt take science or art all year until "high school". (Everything was in the same building) I learned the basics of sewing and made a really pillow with regular fabric, so cool to pick my own out, and sewed with regular sewing machines. Still use the skill of sewing on a button! My dry cleaner won't get my $5. I still measure things like flour and sugar like I was taught. My mom is a great cook and taught me alot, but doing something on my own without her eagle eye made me grown up. She still has my pillow and my dad has the christmas reindeer I made in shop class with the removable antlers. I was lucky to get a school district that still had the money at that time. I heard stories all the time about music being cut in big cities and art classes being thrown by the wayside. Without home ec, shop, art, and speech/theater arts, who will feed us, clothe us, build our home or entertain us?

  • MeiLiStudios

    MeiLiStudios said 6 years ago

    I'm a home school graduate and was blessed with a talented mother and grandmother who taught me all the things you leared in Home Ec. I think these tools are great to use in the rest of your life. I've had the experience of changing my own tire and oil, thanks to my father, and love knowing how to do it right! It has been not only a great thing to learn but a fun time for the curious mind. Though I didn't attend high school I greatly encourage people to go to this class if they can find it, either in a school or things like 4-H.

  • chickenchops

    chickenchops said 6 years ago

    I grew up in Australia and took Home Ec during high school. While my mum taught me a lot in the way of home management, cooking and sewing, Home Ec class contributed a lot too. Learning about nutrition, budgeting and sewing has helped me immensely as an adult. It saddens me to see a decline in such an important class in the U.S. I don't care whether you're male or female, these topics are a vital part of functioning as a healthy adult!

  • BrightIdeasStudio

    BrightIdeasStudio said 6 years ago

    True, it is so sad that the quality Home Ec we studied in our youth has been watered down to an occasional elective cooking or sewing class, if that. I was lucky, I had the greatest Home Ec teacher for several years, and between her, my mother and my grandmother (who thought there should be MORE Home Ec including instruction on how to budget and how to shop) I learned to love sewing. In fact, I love sewing so much that my declaration that “I could do this 24/7!” is coming true. I have developed beginning-level sewing classes for children and adults, and they are snowballing! I had no idea that everyone was not taught this skill as a child, either in school or by their families. And they are begging to learn! So from lemons comes lemonade: I have found a need and filled it. It will take me the rest of my life, but I’m determined to teach as many people as I can the fine art of sewing.

  • JennasRedRhino

    JennasRedRhino said 6 years ago

    I hated my Home Ec class and the teacher, and ironically I now sew and make patterns for a living. It just seems that the course work needs to modernized so students learn relevant life and survival skills, such as interviewing for jobs.

  • thenakedfrog

    thenakedfrog said 6 years ago

    I went to a farm school in the early 90's so I was fortunate to attend a school that had a functioning home ec program. We all made pasta from scratch with rolling pins, no fancy pasta machines. In high school we had dedicated classrooms for home ec and sewing. I think we had twenty brand new berninas to sew on. Now colleges don't even offer home economics as a degree. So sad.

  • mylenefoster

    mylenefoster said 6 years ago

    I love this article! I made my first dress and learned how to sew at home economics class and I've sent my daughter in turn to summer class for beading, sewing, and other art classes. Cooking classes are next. I agree about our rate of consumption vs. creating. I met a mother shopping at a uniform store one time and the dress she wanted to buy a bit bigger jumper so her daughter can grow into it and not have to buy sooner. It was a simple job of sewing a straight line to shorten here and there. When I asked her if she could sew, she could not answer me! These classes can be a challenged for the right brained children, I would think. Just like the other basic subjects it should find a middle ground that is appealing to a wide variety of ways of learning. Trade classes are an alternative for the mechanically minded. Male or female, a person needs to learn these basic skills because of the setup of the home today when the chores are not (supposed to be) dumped on one person. And you can save a lot of money buy cooking at home or making basic items.

  • mylenefoster

    mylenefoster said 6 years ago

    And I made my own hot chocolate today instead of stopping by the coffee shop to get my habitual iced tea lemonade!

  • FruitOfMyHands

    FruitOfMyHands said 6 years ago

    I love this article also. I think this generation has been robbed of the Art of Homemaking. It may come natural to some women, but it can also be learned from a patient instructor or mentor. I remember as a young mother, trying to work a part time job and be super mom at the same time, going over to my mother in laws kitchen and just watching her prepare supper. She just hummed along, stopping every once in a while to ask me something, show me something or just chit chat. I could feel my nerves calm down just watching her. I'll have to tell her that. I don't think I ever did. She's almost 90 years old.

  • ComicBookCupcake

    ComicBookCupcake said 6 years ago

    I was with you all the way, till you threw in the misplaced subjective bit about drugs/alcohol/sex... Home EC = DIY 101.

  • MollythePirate

    MollythePirate said 6 years ago

    Oh my gosh I WISH I'd had Home Ec. Maybe I'd have learned to sew and not hated it. And I've learned to cook now but earlier would have been nice. I did take a horticulture class and since I'm now an avid gardener I am quite grateful that was offered.

  • sittingonthewall

    sittingonthewall said 6 years ago

    I teach Food and Textiles at school and love this article - Inspiring! Thank you for the really interesting and nostalgic read! leeanne

  • LoveThatVintageGirl

    LoveThatVintageGirl said 6 years ago

    I couldn't agree more with the value of home ec in the schools today. Very "uncool" when I was at school and only for the dorky kids or the one's that no else wanted (I was the dorky kid). But I'm proud to say that I'm a mean baker of European style cakes! I don't make a bad roast either. Because of home ec. I'm not scared to change reciepes and try something different on the weekend. So much food today is "pierce with fork and microwave for 5 minutes" which is okay some nights - I let myself have this once a week. But being able to savour a meal that you've started from scratch is far more satisfying. What's even more satisfying is when people think that my cake has come from the most expensive cake store in town and I can proudly say "I made it myself!" and then encourage them to give it a try! Wendy

  • wearaddiction

    wearaddiction said 6 years ago

    What a great article. As I'm Portuguese I never had, or my family relatives home ec in school. Fortunately I come from a family of skilled women that pass from generation to generation the love for cooking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc... I have two young daughters and I cook everyday fresh meals for the family, they usually watch me and help me while I'm cooking. That's how I've learned from my mother that's how I teach them. I think that this is hugely important in our modern lives, when choosing fast food, fast clothes is much easier but not exactly the better options for our lives.

  • PixieLouFelt

    PixieLouFelt said 6 years ago

    My last year of high school in 1977 was the last year that senior home ec was actually 2 separate subjects. One third of my subjects were home economics. I loved it. Still friends with 2 girls from home ec classes. Many fond memories of those days 34 years ago. Still have my pattern drafting book which I got out and looked at the other day. Have not long come back from Vietnam. The girls in Sapa do the most beautiful embroidery and indigo dyeing. They sit on rocks overlooking the mountains and sew all day. Can't think of anything better. No school for them.

  • anitarobinson

    anitarobinson said 6 years ago

    As a Home Economics teacher from Australia I am very excited to read your article. I am as passionate about nutrition, cooking and fashion as I am about sustainability and knowing where my food and fashion has come from. This is what I and the other teachers that I work with are embedding into our units of work and learning experiences. I want students to walk away with an appreciation of how clothes are made, the effort and time required, the issues related to the fashion industry and taking pride in knowing that they made it (bags, boxer shorts, fashion items) themselves. I want students to enjoy cooking and understand why its important to eat healthy and also to enjoy the community that comes with sharing a meal. When I hear students say "Miss I cooked this awesome recipe on the weekend" I am ecstatic because I know that my passion is wearing off on them. At the end of the day if my students are more aware of the food and fashion world, are able to make more informed decisions and are excited to come to my class and cook/sew then I have made a difference. And that is what Home Ec should be about today. Passion, Skills, Information and Pride. Thank you for this article and for putting value on the subject.

  • DesignsStainedGlass

    DesignsStainedGlass said 6 years ago

    Home Ec was a required subject when I was in high school. We had cooking for the first semester than sewing for the rest of the school year. Cooking part was fun. Everything was made from scratch. The teacher didn't really know a lot about sewing - I ended up showing her a few things that she was doing wrong. It was an easy grade of "A" for me. I think it should still be a required subject in school.

  • BacovcinEmbroidery

    BacovcinEmbroidery said 6 years ago

    Everyone should have some basic skills-I was appalled when a friend, at that time a senior in college, asked me to sew a button back on a pair of his shorts.

  • Mariwizz

    Mariwizz said 6 years ago

    I agree 100%! Call it what you want, Home Ec should be a mandatory class for one year of high school or middle school. It should also be offered as an elective in high school with a more advanced level (cooking, sewing, minor home repair, how to save for a down payment, etc.) Today's younger generaton hasn't the faintest idea how to do any of these basic skills. I learned to sew in my class in high school and still enjoy doing so today.

  • pteems77

    pteems77 said 6 years ago Featured

    How about we call it by the correct name, Family and Consumer Sciences. I've taught in this field nearly 26 years and I'm proud to say it offers everything needed to survive today and in the future. FACS is even more important in today's economy. Basic life skills are necessary for everyone, male or female. Its hard to be healthy when you can't even boil water! This course isn't merely about the art of homemaking, it is the art of survivial and sustainability. This blog is wonderful but if you really want to express how you feel contact your local legislators. Tell them how you feel and how this program should remain in our sschools.

  • Monkeyville

    Monkeyville said 6 years ago

    I had Home Ec as a junior high student for half a year and shop class for the other half, because my school wanted us be well rounded. Instead of such gender-focused classes, the whole idea needs an overhaul. Calling it "Home Ec" brings to mind the black and white photo in the article-- a throw back to the 50's when women were supposed to make sure they knew how to cook to find a man. "Domestic Science" is no better because of the connotations with the word "domestic". Renaming the course and focusing on different things-- nutrition, budgeting, credit/financial planning, job searching, etc. would not only make the class attractive again, but also attract both female AND male students. These are necessary skills that kids aren't learning because everyone just assumes they'll know them when they need them which isn't the case. God knows I could have used a class or two on how properly deal with credit cards!

  • winddancerstudios

    winddancerstudios said 6 years ago

    I took Home Ec in California way back when...bisquits as doughnuts?? really? wow we made cookies from scratch lol but we still have Home Ec here in Arkansas, in Jr High it's called Family Sciences and in HS it's two classes and they're called Hospitality and Family Financing. All three of my kids have taken Family Sciences complete with robot baby they learned how to make scrambled eggs and chocolate chip cookies. My youngest (my son) even knows how to quilt now. They can mend their own clothes, sew a button on if needed, can cook so they won't starve and can balance a budget and a checkbook so yes it's still valuable.

  • winddancerstudios

    winddancerstudios said 6 years ago

    @Monkeyville Career Orientation is coupled with Oral Communications They go through the whole process of filling out a job app, writing a resume and even have an interview and must dress appropriately for it as part of their final grade.


    NOOBOO said 6 years ago

    I took four years of Home Ec. at my tiny school in North Louisiana in the late 60s and early 70s. My teacher was amazing and I felt she was a huge influence on my life. Here I learned to sew and I made most of my clothes during high school and for many years afterward. I haven't sewn much lately but know the skills would be there if I decided to do it again. We learned the basics of cooking (i.e., how to make iced tea!) but we also cooked complicated meals and sometimes invited the faculty to eat with us. The Home Ec. Department was heavily involved in FHA (Future Homemakers of Tomorrow). It was a wonderful time!

  • PoppleTree

    PoppleTree said 6 years ago

    I taught Home Ec. in Ohio and in Maine for 32 years. When I started it was all about cooking and sewing. When I retired it included child development, marriage and family life, money management and nutrition, in addition to "cooking and sewing". My 6th through 8th graders, both girls and boys, were required to take home ec. and it was an elective for high school students. Sadly it has been eliminated in virtually all schools in Maine. I still have former students who thank me for helping them learn, from a young man who was able to sew protective pads into the pant legs of the guys working with him in a factory to a young woman who thanked me for accepting her for just who she was. And don't even get me started on how much a little money management education could help today's younger generation.

  • UptownUrbanCraft

    UptownUrbanCraft said 6 years ago

    There is SO much I could say about this topic! We only had home ec in junior high and it was little more than the velveeta-chili concoction and sewing a pillow. I would love to see a completely re-designed program in MN schools by the time I have children in high school! Besides running my Etsy shop, I also do alterations, and I can't tell you how many people come to me just to have a button sewn on! Yes, I'll gladly charge you a dollar for something that takes me 2 minutes. But EVERYONE, men and women, should know how to sew a button on. I completely agree with Monkeyville above, that there is a misplaced assumption that kids are learning these important life skills from their parents but after decades of declining and deteriorating Home Economic programs, most of the parents lack these skills as well. This applies to household finances, healthy food preparation, sewing, the list goes on!

  • firstmrsnoah

    firstmrsnoah said 6 years ago

    Coming from a home with parents divorcing and no time to teach us anything Home Economics taught me so much! How to cook from scratch , How to clean a house, How to sew clothes, and balance a budget! I agree 100% this is a very important class and we need to keep it in our schools! Talking with many kids these days I realize how much they need this opportunity that we are failing to give them. I would say let's stop paying for and forcing our teachers (who are great by the way!) to teach to pass the standardized tests And let's let them teach life skills, math, science , and social studies, Art, music and Home Economics for a real world education.

  • RodandStaffFarm

    RodandStaffFarm said 6 years ago

    Home Economics actually started much, much earlier. I have several teaching texts going back as early as the 20s and let me tell you, they had you calculating calories and doing some SERIOUS math. It covered every aspect of homekeeping, including balanced diets, but also hygiene and health. We absolutely should bring it back and bring it back big time. My step-daughters who were A students and taking advanced courses couldn't crack an egg or use a can opener. Our society of convenience and for many, affluence, has made kids mostly physically lazy and unable to solve the simplest of real-life problems that don't involve a technological gadget.

  • Katexpressions

    Katexpressions said 6 years ago

    Very good article! I believe that we can change the direction in our own homes. Learn from friends and family and do a better job with our own children and any other children that we happen to have over. We have invited some young college women (friends of my daughters) for a baking day and they have really enjoyed it. I have also had a few friends that have expressed interest in coming over to learn how to make bread, plant a garden and some basic canning (which I need to learn!) This just encourages me to open my home up to others for making a difference. I think we can do things that the schools just aren't able to. Thanks for the article!

  • wildwomanjenny

    wildwomanjenny said 6 years ago

    In May, I will graduate with my degree to teach "home economics" (today, we call it Family & Consumer Sciences), and it has so much value beyond the stereotypical cooking and sewing. Here in Alabama, it's modeled similarly to California's with pathways designed to prepare students for careers in the food industry, hospitality & tourism, education, and human services. The courses we offer will help prepare students for 'real life' in so many ways, and it pains me to think that so many people don't realize just how current and necessary "home ec" is.

  • lauraslastditch

    lauraslastditch said 6 years ago

    My theory about obesity is that it's due to convenience. When food is easy, we eat more of it. Cooking from scratch only and getting rid of the microwave are two ways of making food more of an effort, as it should be. Learning to cook is a big part of it. Ideally, parents would teach their children, but since so many of them hardly know how to cook themselves, it would be great for schools to step in. A class about how to be frugal would be most useful, as it could incorporate cooking, sewing, and other useful skills with money management--a good recipe for a graduate that will somehow make do, no matter what the economy has in store.

  • purplepoppydesigns

    purplepoppydesigns said 6 years ago

    As a quilter and crafter, I obviously believe in the value of home economics classes. Ironically, I never learned to sew in Home Ec., nor did I learn from my mother, though she tried several times to teach me. It took the imminent birth of my first child to light the fire of "Domestic Arts" in me. One of the most fascinating phenomena of learning how to cook, sew, etc. is that once you see how satisfying it is to make your own bread, quilt, clothes, etc., you want to experience other aspects of home ec. Even as I walk through the local superstore, I find myself shopping for ideas, instead of shopping for purchases. Once you get bit by the "I could make this" bug, it's hard to go back to buying everything. Great article. Thanks!

  • erasistible

    erasistible said 6 years ago

    Home Ec still has value but it needs to be presented in a fresh way. For instance, instead of just teaching students how to sew a button on a shirt, have them sew a button collage. Teach them how to cook on the grill--it's healthy, tasty, and a modern form of entertaining. Send them to the grocery store with a list that must be purchased for no more than $20 (not actual money, just write it down.) Teach them how to figure out how much they are really paying when they put something on the credit card and how many hours of work it will take to pay it off. Show them how you can wash some things that say "Dry Clean Only" (use something that is used or donated). Tell them how much dry cleaning costs and ask them where they would rather spend that money, or again, show them how long they have to work to pay for it. Can't afford new furniture for that first apartment? Let them go crazy by painting and recovering the seat of a dining room chair. Making Home Ec more inspiring and relevant would encourage students to be creative and frugal in other areas of their lives. LONG LIVE HOME EC!!

  • scampthecat

    scampthecat said 6 years ago

    Yes, yes, yes!!! I, too, wrote a column about the virtues of home ec six years ago. I am absolutely baffled as to why the life skills taught in home ec are no longer a part of the curriculum in American schools today.

  • metroretrovintage

    metroretrovintage said 6 years ago

    I loved Home Ec. Had a great instructor who believed in making everything from scratch, and was also into whole grains at the time (not many were back then). By the time high school rolled around, the rules changed where 'girls' were finally allowed to take Shop class (with the boys). I signed up three times for auto mechanics and each time there was an excuse not to allow me in, although there were available seats. The reality was that although rules had changed, society's perception hadn't. I also witnessed the demise of technical schools. And yet these skills are needed more than ever in today's market.

  • dahlilafound

    Dahlila S. from dahlilafound said 5 years ago

    I hated Home Ec. (in the 70s). Our teacher was a tyrant, certainly not the cozy feel-good home maker one would hope for: Alice Nelson or June Clever. I failed terribly at sewing, even though my own mother was/is a wonderful seamstress. I think I associated Home Ec with everything I didn't want to be--a housewife. We weren't SUPPOSED to WANT to be those anymore. No one I knew wanted the domestic life--or, at least, they kept it to themselves. It was a very odd time for women. I think we got lost in the "NEW" rules for women, the opposite of what our mothers had been trained to want. Most women of any generation never really chose. It just seemed dictated, somehow. To this day I still only cook simple meals for myself. After I once cooked an elaborate roast dinner for a boyfriend--an all day event--he gobbled it down in minutes, barely acknowledging the hours & difficulty it took. I swore I'd never do THAT again. And I haven't . I do, however, love to bake, simple items: cookies, bread, cake: comfort foods &, I've discovered, the best part about baking is sharing.

  • dahlilafound

    Dahlila S. from dahlilafound said 5 years ago

    MetroRetro, that is so sad! I LOVED wood shop (late 70s). Lots of boys, very cool instructor, making stuff. What's not to love? Wish now, I had known to take auto shop. Now, that would be useful. P.S. Girls were in wood shop, but I never saw a boy in Home Ec.

  • needleandfelt

    Amy from needleandfelt said 5 years ago

    I think home ec or cooking class was an elective at our school. I remember not wanting to take I took sewing 1 & 2 in 8th grade. All my sewing skills were from that class. So thankful they offered that. Great article!

  • beauty4ugreenleaf

    Cindy from GreenLeafStudiosEtsy said 5 years ago

    Sad to say but our Family & Consumer Science classes were eliminated 10 years ago at the middle school level where I teach in favor of adding a second math class and a reading class because our population is below average in these areas due being an inner city school district. And yet, I feel strongly that our students would gain great benefits from this type of class as well as industrial tech which was the other class to go. I'm an art teacher and as things unfold with the economy and the foolish cuts to education in my state my class may go the way of the Dodo as well ((sigh)) in favor of teaching to meet PSSA standards.

  • destiny742002

    Dale Newton said 5 years ago

    Home Economics is misunderstood my many, because of the lack of knowledge about what Home Economics is all about. It is up to us who are still in the field to educating to inform about the importance of Home Economics. We have to let them know it is a science in it own rights. It is not only about cooking, cleaning and sewing. We must continue to inform and educate others or, sooner rather than later Home Economics will be something of the past.

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