7 Things We Missed Out on By Not Having Home Economics Classes in High School
During my four years at an all-girls high school, I took a class on poetry and enrolled in an elective on military history. Sports practices and choir rehearsals filled after-school calendars; leadership opportunities were a dime a dozen; and each senior was required to complete a research-based thesis project before graduation. In short, I was lucky to have a well-rounded educational experience that set me up for success. But not once, between reading Sun Tzu or helping to restore oyster beds in a marine biology class, did anyone teach me to sew on a button or create a budget. And frankly, I feel like I missed out. Whatever happened to home economics classes?
A 2020 article by FOXBusiness lists many of the reasons home ec classes have dwindled in popularity and, in many places, have been eliminated altogether. Many students are college-focused, directing their attention towards classes that will earn them future credits; domestic work is often (unfairly) perceived to be less valuable than professional work; and generally, it's assumed that these life skills will be learned at home.
While it's true that most of us will eventually develop these skills in real-time, it sure would have been nice to have a head-start by fine-tuning them in a low-risk, classroom environment, rather than the baptism-by-fire education of the "real world." Here are a handful of skills we missed out on by not having a home ec class in high school.
When I began working for Southern Living, people assumed I instantly became an expert in making fluffy biscuits and buttery pound cake. (Spoiler: I am on the words side; I did not.) Even though I have Ivy Odom's cell number for when things go awry (lucky, I know), I would still love to have a working knowledge of cooking that doesn't require a grocery-aisle phone call home to Mom or constant Googling.
Based on the percentage of my budget that's gone to the alteration and hemming of bridesmaid dresses, this is a skill that would have paid for itself long ago. I recently brought home a hotel-room sewing kit and I'll whip it out (alongside a YouTube video) next time a button pops at an inopportune moment. Wish me luck.
This is a skill I've learned with the help of Excel spreadsheets and the Mint app, but it's never too early for students to learn to plan grocery lists, car maintenance, and other daily expenses with a set, realistic budget in mind.
Were it not for my gig at Southern Living and photoshoot/event prep, I may still not know how to iron. I can make do when it comes to ironing table linens and the like, but ask me to press pleats, and I'm lost.
How to Time Food Prep
Even as I'm slowly becoming more adept in the kitchen, one thing I still struggle with is timing and having all the dishes ready to eat at once. Unless it's a one-pot dish, I somehow always manage to have an element of the meal that's cold by the time I'm able to sit down and eat it.
Yes, I could always call a plumber or repairman, but knowing how to remedy a small sink clog on my own would be satisfying—and less expensive. Add basic car maintenance (like changing the oil or swapping out wiper blades) to my skillset too, and I'd be unstoppable.
Gardening and Yard Work
I've killed two orchids in as many months, so it's safe to say a green thumb doesn't come naturally. Living in an apartment has also precluded me from having to take care of a yard, but when the time comes, it'd be nice to know how to mulch the perennials or edge the lawn.
After reading this, lest you're concerned about my ability to contribute to society as a fully functioning adult, don't worry. I'm doing just fine. I've got my Mama on speed dial…and half the Southern Living staff too.
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