Kids are Clueless: Why We Need Home Economics in Schools

When a student goes to school, they learn algebra, chemistry, how to write academically, history, and other common topics, but how do these lessons prepare maturing students for the real world? They don’t. High school seniors graduate not knowing how to cook, make and stick to a budget, sew on a button, fix a hole in their shirt, properly do their laundry, or how to successfully buy groceries. These students are expected to live on their own, but often, they are never thoroughly taught how to. More and more schools across America are dropping their home economics classes simply because students aren’t taking it. While some people believe that home economic classes are outdated and unnecessary, I believe that every high school and middle school should make it a mandatory class.

A common belief, especially among modern day feminists, is that home economics is a sexist class, and is too often geared towards women. The Lily News, however, wrote an article on Medium, titled “Home Ec was Started by a Feminist. We Need to Bring it Back.” The article claims that while it is true that in the past home economics was often divisive, with only the girls being placed in the class, it doesn’t have to be like that today (Medium, 2017). The Lily News suggests ways to improve the home economics curriculum, and bring the class back to schools. The author of this article believes that home economics should be mandatory, and can be used to create a “gender-balanced view of the world” (Medium, 2017).

Jesse Rhodes, an author on The Smithsonian, wants to revamp home economics for a reason other than making it gender-neutral. Rhodes wrote an article in which he believes that with some adjustments to the curriculum, home economics can be used to help fight obesity in America (Smithsonian, 2011). Rhodes begins his article with a brief history of home economics and its original purpose: “to guide young people through modern consumer culture;” however, the class was originally started in 1908, and since then, America has become a different place (Smithsonian, 2011). The article goes on to discuss the growth in obesity in America, and how foods that are convenient to make are often prepackaged, and not nutritionally balanced. Rhodes believes that home economics should focus its curriculum towards teaching students how to prepare nutritionally balanced meals, and in return, The United States could see a decrease in obesity (Smithsonian, 2011).

In an article posted on Mother Jones, the author, Tom Philpott, discusses how he was a horrible student in high school, and was forced to take home economics as an elective (Mother Jones, 2013). He thinks about how his experience in the class compares to the modern day home economics course. While his class was gender-bias, and required little thinking, he believes a modern home economics class would be beneficial for teaching students basic life skills, and would be gender inclusive. Not only does Philpott believe that every school should offer a class such as this, he believes that it should be mandatory (Mother Jones, 2013).

Hillari Dowdle wrote an article in which she discusses how home economics was not offered at her school, and how it definitely wasn’t mandatory while it was offered (Cooking Light, 2012). Dowdle unexpectedly became a stay-at-home mom, and was completely unprepared to run and manage a household. The article continues to reflect on how Dowdle wishes that her school had not only offered a home economics course, but had made it mandatory. She is in full support of bringing home economics back into the school system, and making it required for everyone (Cooking Light, 2012).

While I don’t completely disagree with any one of the articles, I have some doubts about home economics being able to significantly decrease obesity in the United States, as claimed by Jesse Rhodes. While home economics can teach many valuable skills to students, they’re not always guaranteed to apply these lessons to their lives. Home economics should be able to teach students valuable skills, and often they will be needed in a graduate’s life; however, nutrition is a lifestyle and a choice, just because it is learned doesn’t mean that it is adapted.

I fully agree with most of the above articles, but my personal favorite, and the one I think makes the most valid points is Hillari Dowdle’s. I think her story is evidence that home economics teaches valuable lessons that everyone can benefit from learning. She makes it clear that schools aren’t doing everything they possibly can to prepare students for life after high school. I completely agree with Dowdle when she says that schools need to bring back home economics for good this time, and make it a mandatory class for all students.

While most people don’t explicitly state that they think that home economics classes shouldn’t be in schools, there are many people who believe that they are outdated, sexist, and sometimes pointless. I believe, however, that it is a necessity for preparing young adults to enter the real world on their own. Schools should be doing all that they can to get graduating students ready to live on their own, and home economics is a crucial step in the process.

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