Did You Take Home Ec? Did You Learn Anything?

Illustration for article titled Did You Take Home Ec? Did You Learn Anything?

A few days ago, the Times of London had a story about old-fashioned home economics. There's a place in the UK called the Women's Institute, which educates ladies in skills such as cooking, needlework and knitting. These days, with many people strapped for cash, the interest in home economics comes with the emphasis on the economics. Sue Bridger, a WI course instructor who has taught microwave cooking since the '80s, says: "As well as being useful, domestic science can help to save money. But now we have two generations of children who have not been taught even the basics. We are losing vital life skills." Did you take Home Ec? Do you wish you had?I never took Home Ec. I think I had to sew in gradeschool, and my mom taught me some stuff. I opted for shop in high school. But I'll never forget the day my sister called from college, curious about how to clean her hardwood floors. My mom's method involved hiring someone. I asked the other editors if they took Home Ec. Anna says: "I did and I don't remember anything." Jessica claims, "We learned how to bake French bread pizza and use a sewing machine. I had the boxers I made (they were a frog print fabric!) for years afterwards." Intern Margaret explains, "The idea was that we would learn to use a sewing machine, but all the machines were broken and they couldn't afford to fix them, so I hand sewed a stuffed bunny and learned the invaluable skill of pulling stuffed animal fur out of a seam. Shop class was way more awesome. I learned to use a jigsaw." Megan says: "I sewed an ugly sweatshirt that I wore to gym class for years. but I also learned how to sew buttons and stuff like that." I've written about living alone, about being the CEO, CFO and janitor of your life; of learning to enjoy and thrive on autonomy. And shouldn't that be what Home Ec is all about? Budgeting, balancing a checkbook, making the best of leftovers, getting red wine out of the rug, realizing that you don't need as many lattes and heels as you think you do? "Thrift is a dying art," the Women's Institute believes. But would you be open to learning such a skill? In the past, Home Ec came with the stigma that a woman was expected to learn to be a housewife. But what if there were a revamped course in which women learned to run their lives in a financially responsible way? Old-Fashioned Home Economics [Times of London]



I took home ec in 7th grade. It was mandatory. We spent half the year sewing, and half cooking. I wanted no part of either, but girls weren't allowed to take shop back then.

It took me forever to make a vomit green A-line skirt. I started a Boston Creme Pie fight in cooking that went down in school history.

Instead of making this about girls, I'm in favor of a life skills program where everyone learns basic cooking, checkbook, budget, how to change a tire, how to change your own oil, doing laundry - the skills EVERYONE needs to learn.