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What the Heck Ever Happened to Home Ec? (And My Goal for the Year)

I’d been thinking about this for a for the last few days when, on Friday evening I happened to run across Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution show on ABC. He was in the midst of helping a single father of two boys understand why and how living on fast food wasn’t actually easier or cost-effective and how it was hurting their health and their future. I was fascinated to watch Jamie challenge this Dad to go get what he usually gets at a fast food joint while Jamie and the boys stayed home and made a meal from scratch. Dad came home to find the boys and Jamie Oliver tossing a pigskin in the street thinking he’d saved the day with getting a meal so quickly (it actually took 45 minutes!). He soon realized that not only had dinner been on the table for a bit waiting for his arrival, but the boys, who I believe were adolescent aged, had cooked the entire meal themselves with only direction from Jamie. And it had cost significantly less than what Dad had brought home half-cold and soaked in grease.

I was thinking to myself EXACTLY! And then I had a thought: What the heck ever happened to Home Ec?

When my husband and I were married, and honestly up until I had a pregnancy were I couldn’t eat let alone cook for the first 4 months, he could do little more than make a sandwich, grill a piece of meat and pour himself some cereal. He’d never learned to cook. When we got married, I knew the basics from having watched my mom and my grandmother. Mostly though, along the way, I taught myself. In fact, in our house, it’s commonly said: If it doesn’t work out, we order pizza. So far we’ve never had to order pizza. But what has happened to us all that we not only believe we can’t cook, but that we believe that cooking is hard and expensive or time intensive? It doesn’t have to be any of those things!

I’ve also often been astounded by the fact that so many people I know cannot sew on a button or balance a checkbook. I find myself scratching my head often over the fact that our students can all relate to “A train leaves Chicago at 6pm going 100 miles per hour and another train leaves St. Louis at 5:45 pm traveling at 110 miles per hour…” you get the idea. And yet we struggle with the basics of how to take care of ourselves and our homes. I have to wonder, if we learn the simple things of self-sufficiency at home, wouldn’t it create a better base from which our children can confidently go forth into the world to build upon those basic skills knowing that, at the very least they can care for themselves?

In our house we homeschool. I’m sure plenty of people think we are a little off the beaten path and a tad strange. That’s ok. But even if we didn’t homeschool we’d be teaching our boys how to care for themselves and handle the basics. When they head off to college years from now I want them to know how to cook something other than Top Ramen (even if they choose not to).I know we live in an age of ever increasing technology and speed, but the simple fact of the matter is, we need to know how to take care of ourselves in a way that is healthful in order to be of much use out in the world. It’s a matter of learning simple self reliance and personal responsibility.

So, if you have children, and you haven’t already done so, or if you know a child who may not be learning the basics: help them learn. If you don’t know how yourself, start learning. It’s never too early or too late to learn to boil an egg, to sew a button, to balance the checkbook, to wash a load of laundry properly….to simply care well for ourselves. If you can read this post, you can certainly figure out how to do any of these things. Or in this day of technology do what I’ve been often been known to do: Youtube it! But for heaven’s sake give learning some basics a chance. You might be surprised at how knowing some basics, or learning ones you haven’t learned yet can make you feel accomplished and able to face the world. At the very least, you’ll be fed well, your button will be on your pants and maybe, just maybe you might even have your pants hemmed to the right length and your checkbook balanced. My personal goal for the year: Learn to change a tire. Simply because I don’t know how (I know this actually falls under Automotive and not Home Economics-but it’s a matter of self-sufficiency so I’m including it here!)

So readers, were you taught the basics or are there plenty you are still learning? Are you teaching these things to your kids?


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