HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >

Discussion

Should home ec classes return to schools?

This article has been making the rounds the last few days and it stirs up one of my personal pet peeves.

I think the lack of basic cooking skills today is appalling. A millennial person I know posted it on his blog and was in defense of young people who can so easily now go to their phone, type in "how to make pasta alfredo" and boom--they know. Huh? I certainly hope my doctor doesn't "learn" things that way.

I'll never forget the time my 16 year old niece came to visit me in Boston and we decided to eat in one night. We were talking in the kitchen and I handed her a cucumber to cut up. She stopped talking & looked at me with total befuddlement on her face. She had no idea what to do with it. Really? Really, really?

Oy, I shudder to think what anyone under 30 would do if we were suddenly hit by a meteor and there was no take out or Lean Cuisines to grab while you're heading for safety. I guess that would probably be a challenge for me too, but at least if I FOUND food, I could cook it!

http://jezebel.com/be-a-goddamn-adult...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I went to Hunter College in The Bronx(Class of 1968)
    My major was Home Economics-
    I taught for a short period of time teaching Food Preparation-
    The young ppl today need to have classes in Home Ec.
    In N.Y.C. everyone took shop classies in Junior High School(grades 7,8.9).
    They were the best classes I ever took.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jpr54_1

      Had to look up Hunter 's history when you said that it was in the Bronx. I was thinking...maybe you're talking about another CUNY school like Lehman or Hostos. My sister goes there and its in Upper Eastside Manhattan so I was a bit confused. Turns out you were actually the last graduating class to go there while it was still part of Hunter. It became Lehman College right after you graduated, one of Hunter's sister schools in the CUNY system.

      1. re: PrinceZuko

        yes-and we were very very angry about its name change-
        fortunately our diplomas say Hunter in the Bronx-

        we woke up one day and saw Mrs. Lehman on tv saying how happy she was-we were astounded and unhappy.

        we went to Hunter in the Bronx for a variety of reasons-including it's suburban like campus:it was co-ed; and it's academics.

    2. Honestly, I believe Home Ec should be an elective rather than a requirement. Cooking skills are essential but academics takes priority. Students are only in school from 8am to 3pm. AP Bio, AP Physics, AP Calculus...all much better uses of their limited time in school. Its part of why home ec faded out of school curriculums. And remember, raising a child involves BOTH the parents and the school. You cant rely on schools to teach everything. Schools are there to mold a child academically. Parents should teach their child to become independent and survive on their own. If someone's kid cant cook, its the parents' fault. Honestly, you should be screaming at your niece's parents rather than complaining about whats being taught in schools. Her parents cook for her now. Well, college is coming and they wont always be there to feed her. It seems they haven't even thought about this. That or they thought very little about their kid's future. Its time for them to get her involved in the kitchen and teach her how to feed herself rather than assume schools will raise their children for them.

      45 Replies
      1. re: PrinceZuko

        Ha! You are right about that and believe me I have done so for years. Her mother did not know how to cook.

        You make a good point about the parents' involvement. I was lucky that I learned from my parents AND at school. Girls didn't take shop but I was my dad's little helper and learned a lot about handyman work and engineering, so I was covered on both sides.

        1. re: PrinceZuko

          Sadly not all parents know how to cook either. They don't have skills to pass on other than dialing the phone to have a pizza delivered or showing the kid where the nearest fast food and convenience stores are. Or how about parents with two jobs who have precious little time to help their kids with their academic homework, let alone time to show them how to cook. Ever watched those Honey Boo Boo "cooking with Mama June" videos? Yeah, she's doing a good thing teaching her child how to cook. I agree completely that schools are primarily about academics. But they are also about creating well rounded individuals. A semester or two of home ec, along with a couple of semesters of shop class - both of them coed, would not kill a students schedule. Of course funding becomes an issue. Teaching math, english, or a foreign language just takes a textbook and a decent dedicated teacher. Things like shop and cooking require equipment and supplies.

          Oh, here are a couple of those videos
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsYpaA...
          http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/here-come...

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            I did that, took home ec AND shop, our home ec was a wash out. all they taught was how to compose a canned pear and cottage cheese salad and some embroidery stitches. through this I really nailed that coveted 'fag' label. shop wasn't much better as the teacher was often off getting stoned with a music teacher (although I did learn how to use a drill press and a pad sander).

            I was hoping for a simple bechamel and the chemistry behind a gastrique, a sear vs. a braise; how to hand cut a dove-tail and when to use lacquer vs. linseed oil. but no, the curriculum for both was written by "Good Housekeeping".

            1. re: hill food

              In my jr. high school boys were required to take shop and girls were required to take home ec. No gender mixing was allowed. Period. No exceptions. A girl in our class wanted to take shop so bad. Her parents were on her side. The school would not bend. Different times.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                When my sister and I were teenagers, our dad refused to let us get our licenses unless we could change a flat tire. I found it annoying at the time but it's definitely come in handy over the years!

                1. re: Hobbert

                  It was a homework assignment for my son when he was talking drivers ed. I know it in theory but calling AAA is so much easier!

                  1. re: chowser

                    Oh I agree but the cheapskate in me is thankful we know how. It would drive me nuts to have to pay somebody to change my tire when I've got all the equipment right there :)

                    1. re: Hobbert

                      The tire change is free but you have to pay for AAA. It's worth it, just for the dscounts alone. It hasn't happened often to me but guys are chivalrous. The few times I have had tires go flat, guys have stopped and changed it for me.

                      1. re: chowser

                        for chowser - It IS worth it - but the last time I called AAA for a flat the "guy" who showed up and fixed it was a woman older than late 50's me! I felt like such a wuss!

                      2. re: Hobbert

                        My husband tried to change our tire (even though we have AAA) and managed to break/bend the jack doing more damage! I love AAA.

                  2. re: KaimukiMan

                    That's what I remember, too--gender division. We learned how to sew, embroider, iron, clean house, cook. Oh, be subservient and how to have dinner on the table for the family for when dad came home.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      My parents MADE me take shop - and my brother home-ec. I thought it was vastly unfair because I LOVED cooking and while shop class was interesting, I was the only girl and it didn't actually teach me anything that I ever used in 'real life'. (She didn't want me to take sewing class either... which just mean that I never learnt to sew.)

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        I wanted to take shop, as well as Home Ec (requirement in my jr. high, too), but they wouldn't let me. My Dad told me not to worry, that I already knew more than the damned teacher anyway since I worked weekends with the family on renovating houses and could do plumbing, electrical wiring, and use power tools. That knowledge has stood me well, though. I can fix a toilet faster than most of my male friends, and then go cook a gourmet dinner.
                        Home Ec was okay - I learned a few things I hadn't at home, especially the use of sewing machines (I got interested and enrolled in Singer's summer classes) since they scared my Mom. I liked that we had kitchen set-ups and were required to actually COOK! Then our food was critiques by taste and presentation.
                        We also had required music and art classes. I loved those requirements and think kids today are definitely missing out! Bring back Home Ec, PE, art, music and all the other classes that aren't considered fundamentals. If we want to teach people how to think and explore new concepts, those classes should not be electives! We need a well rounded group to take over the world.

                        1. re: KailuaGirl

                          In an ideal world, we'd do that. But given that we're falling behind the rest of the world in academic subjects, taking time away from those to require those other subjects? That would position our kids to cook and clean and take care of the cars and houses of those who are running the tech corporations of those from countries that stress academics.

                      2. re: hill food

                        My most memorable class was prime rib roast & a perfect baked Alaska prepared & eaten at 9:30am in jr high!

                      3. re: KaimukiMan

                        <<they are also about creating well rounded individuals>>

                        at this point, the evidence is in that the schools are FAILING at adequately teaching the academics.
                        why would you try putting this additional, very dubious, very subjective, time-wasting "responsibility on them?

                        strongly disagree.

                      4. re: PrinceZuko

                        I've taken both home ec and calculus, and there's no question home ec was more important! There's more to home ec than just cooking, too. Sewing, that was helpful -- for a while I even made some of my own clothes, and at least I know how to fix a hem or sew on a button! The "ec" side of planning, budgeting, etc. is something everyone needs to know. And I'd add in basic home repair skills, too. I have a friend who does estimating for a construction company. She says it's not uncommon for people to call them and need someone to come out and replace a switch plate. A housecall is $150 for something that costs $1 and requires unscrewing and replacing two small screws.

                        As for "the parents should teach them at home" -- that can be said of almost anything. Parents can read, so maybe they should be responsible for teaching their kids to read. Same with basic math.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          HomeEc doesn't get you into college though. Calculus does.

                          1. re: juliejulez

                            (1) Most people still don't go to college, (2) calculus didn't get me into college; calculus is actually only necessary for a very small number of fields, (3) too many students are forced to take classes that don't contribute anything to their future at all.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Your #3 is an interesting observation. But, I'd like to know what classes don't contribute anything to a future still developing?

                              Sometimes the very thing we are talking about: learning skills that are no longer avail in elementary school, have value when you least expect it. So being forced(?) to take a class (college pre-req, part of the humanities, gym, etc) might actually wind up having value...

                              What are you referring to?

                              1. re: HillJ

                                I resented my father making me take calculus when I wanted to take yearbook. I hated math wanted to study English, and said I'd never take it again. Ironically, I ended up being a math major. And, was far more employable than being a literature major.

                                It really is about learning to think, challenging your mind. A sit up on its own is meaningless but having core strength is priceless.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Most people will get along fine in their lives with trigonometry and calculus. If you're planning on going to college, and in a field where math is necessary, then fine. But school curriculums these days are designed to treat all students as if they are college prep, whether they are or not, which just leads to kids feeling that school is irrelevant and dropping out. How many kids have said about algebra "when am I ever going to use that"? When was the last time you needed to solve a quadratic equation? Anyone? The sad part is that some aspects of algebra do have everyday practical applications, but the kids aren't taught those!

                                  On the other hand, everyone needs to eat, and while knowing how to cook isn't essential, it will certainly lead to being healthier and saving money. That's what "home ec" is for!

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    When you are 15 years old, you don't know what you want. You don't know all the possibilities that you are forgoing by not taking certain classes. Yes, you can always start over as an adult but that's getting harder and harder to do, not just because adults have jobs and usually families, but because it is getting more expensive just to get through daily life, much less adding a return to school and incurring more debt to the mix. I did it, and fortunately didn't rack up much debt, but I did lose several years of highest income potential along with several years of retirement savings.

                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Yes but schools are focused on what colleges want... not what is actually useful :) That was my point... I guess I should have explained it better.

                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I recall a good amount of math required in home ec. The type of math I still use today, whereas I lost my calculus in probably 2002...

                                Only math I touched in college was statistics. Well, I had to take pre-algebra just for sake of taking a math. I had forgotten that much I dropped down to math 96 - not even college level. 10 years later still have not used my math, trig, etc. Statistics is still very useful, though.

                                1. re: youareabunny

                                  Speaking of statistics I've always found this one staggering;

                                  6 out of 4 people aren't good with fractions.

                                    1. re: youareabunny

                                      Thinking about it now, yes you are correct. Sadly I might be one of them. :-(

                                      1. re: youareabunny

                                        Commercials that advertise products at a fraction of the cost drive me crazy. 99/100 is a fraction, and pennies on the dollars. How many pennies, 99?

                                      2. re: youareabunny

                                        I taught a friend's daughter how to bake before she started kindergarten. My friend, who lived next door and was a single parent, was very ill and slept for about 20 hours a day. I took over childcare (I was already home taking care of my Dad) so we did a lot of baking. That little girl knew fractions before she started school! She would lecture her friends about how to tell which was a larger or smaller amount.
                                        Today she bakes desserts for a restaurant she works for, and is a bartender who creates cocktails (fractions are always useful!). Her main job is as a bartender, but she gets to use those skills she learned as a child in her adult life. She's using them to put herself through college.
                                        Her mother got well and taught her daughter sewing, furniture upholstery and recovering, and fashion design. Everything's good!!!

                                        1. re: KailuaGirl

                                          I need a child like that in my life! My Ex's kid was only interested in licking the beaters.

                                          Lovely to read :)

                                      3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        Then what do you recommend to a parent who doesn't teach their child what a cucumber is? Or doesn't teach them basic cooking/life skills at home? What else aren't they teaching them?

                                        You've got home life, extended family, school, peers, society and your own sojourns in life (just to name a few) to teach you what you need to know before you ever step foot in the working world.

                                        While college isn't for everyone a TRADE is. Earning a living is. If Home Ec isn't offered in most public school anymore, what do you suggest replaces outlets for these basic skills?

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          If no one taught them, then how can the teach their kids? Part of the problem is that our microwave/take out culture has been going on long enough that we now have a generation of parents who were never taught to cook (just as we now have teachers who can't spell and don't know grammar).

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            I think you've painted some very broad strokes. No disrespect to you Ruth, I asked for your thoughts. I can't relate to this kind of broad stroke thinking that x happens because y didn't happen.

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              I didn't mean to imply that *no* parents can cook. Just that one reason many kids can't cook is that their parents don't cook.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                That is for sure. In the case of my niece, her mother did not then and still does not know how to cook, for many good and some just plain lazy reasons. Not long after the "cucumber incident," for Christmas I sent my niece a huge carton of cooking utensils (pasta pot, tongs, a nice knife, America's Test Kitchen cookbook, spices, etc.) with a note that said "Learn to cook. It can change your life." She took my advice, got a job in a restaurant, observed, learned, paid attention and became a fine cook.

                                                1. re: sandiasingh

                                                  Well why didn't you add all of that valuable detail to your original post? What a big PS that is!

                                                  You provided value to whatever was lacking at home or in your nieces experience.

                                                  Hence one small point, that how we learn and what we learn doesn't get lost if Home Ec isn't avail to teach us. If schools fail to provide well rounded courses for our kids and we're not happy with it that doesn't mean we fail our kids. And WE can be anyone who cares enough (as you did) to reach out and teach by example.

                                                  1. re: sandiasingh

                                                    my former neighbor was an ex-kindergarten teacher and an amazing mom. but unfortunately she didn't know how to cook and everything her child ate was out of a box or takeout. after much digging turns out her mom is a recovering anorexic and didn't eat and keep much food in the house. of course, that's not always the case for people who don't know how to cook and i find a home cooked meal is the best BUT, i'm not sure if it's my place to judge those who don't know how to cook. my sister hates cooking. she does it surprisingly very well and begrudgingly bc she knows it's good for her family but if it were up to her, there would be no cooking ever. and some kids are forced to do things like math but they may find a love for it and vice versa for cooking.
                                                    i guess my point is that not everyone will enjoy cooking as not everyone will enjoy math. and some kids will find they love math and end up using it like an architect or engineer.but cooking is a life skill bc everyone needs to eat but how does it get presented into the classroom?

                                                    personally, i wish they had a how to get a job/interview in my last semester in college. or how to go from studying art theory to filing paperwork at a crappy gallery office101. ha! that would have been nice!

                                                    1. re: trolley

                                                      trolley - yes in artschool, we had a required class about preparing/presenting ones portfolio, how galleries review work and make a profit, submitting proposals for public works set asides (ie the 1% for Art programs) but I always thought they should have included some tax, liability and employment law.

                                                      some instructors over in 3-D would go into detail about the logistics of setting up a shop, leases, 110 vs. 220 voltage, basic equipment costs and how to cut corners, etc.

                                            2. re: HillJ

                                              Actually, the schools do teach kids about cucumbers, they just don't teach how to properly slice them. (I'm referencing condoms and sex ed.)

                                            3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              speaking as someone who earned her living from knowing calculus and advanced statistics, i'm here to tell you that i got NOTHING out of those idiotic sewing classes.

                                              also, NO to the idea that most parents CAN teach advanced math and science even if they wanted to teach them.

                                              your ideas really explain why the entire economic base of this country is suffering.

                                              i certainly don't want the school system preparing my daughter to work in a sweat shop setting in sleeves.. . . . .

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                "most" is the operative word. a cousin home-schooled hers and all are establishing themselves in advanced mathematics. theoretical, computer engineering, jazz rhythm structure, etc.

                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                  It's interesting that this conversation has evolved into one about the unimportance of higher level math. I think we live in a math-phobic society, sadly, and the US is falling further behind the rest of the world in STEM subjects. How many people would argue against learning anything about art or reading anything more than a newspaper because few people do as adults? Should we get rid of literature? Shakespeare? Picasso? Medieval history? Should schools only teach what an average middle aged person in the US uses?

                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    I had two semesters of statistics...if it were not for the daily ten point quizzes I probably would not have passed. : )

                                              2. No. Schools have enough to focus on. Besides a self taught cook is worlds apart from a self taught doctor. Read a cookbook . Watch an educational cooking show. Trial and error.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                                  Read a cookbook, exactly. People at work are shocked that I can cook when I bring leftovers that I or the wifeacita have made. I tell them if you can read, you can cook. Cookbook, trial and error like you say. I cut my teeth on Chef Boyardee pizza in a box, third gradeish, and no, never took home ec.

                                                2. I absolutely think Home Ec should be taught in schools, as well as shop and all the other practical skills that have fallen by the wayside - but I also agree that they should be electives.

                                                  This begins to go off Chow topics, but there was a trend in education a few decades ago to phase out vocational electives because we were raising young scholars - I don't know whether it was elitism or the women's movement or just funding cuts, but somehow these subjects were seen as "lesser," with the few electives that survived (like art and music) squeaked by because they were "cultural" (and in some districts even they have been cut). It's a massive disservice to both young people and society - I work in education, and the majority of students feel like idiots because they're not good at AP Calc and AP Physics, but they take them anyway so they can try to go to a good college...while in the meantime, they're getting C's in subjects they don't care about and will never use [which is potentially preventing them from getting into a better college] and graduating without the barest skills for the real world. They can create matrices but they can't balance a checkbook. And then they feel worthless if they grow up to be a mechanic or a stay at home mom because those aren't the jobs they were educated for, they're jobs people take as "fallbacks" (never mind that they actually enjoy and are good at fixing cars, or actually desire to do the self-sacrificial and difficult job of raising children). Academics are important, but realistically, the majority of adults don't need advanced math and science - even if they're movers and shakers in society. The education system has NO idea what they are trying to produce, so they keep producing 19th century intellectuals because it seems more impressive.

                                                  Sorry - massive rant because it's a passion of mine. =)

                                                  1. I went to private schools without a home ec requirement or option.
                                                    However, i "helped" mom in the kitchen, was responsible for my own breakfast from amd early age and frugal gourmet and julia child were among the few pbs tv shows we were allowed to watch.
                                                    I packed my own lunches, made cookies with grandma and did not spend my spare time in front of a phone or computer

                                                    1. I'm glad you were teaching your neice. People learn to cook at home, from the people who cook for them. Ditto laundry, mending, changing oil in the car or filters in the furnace or washers in the faucet. This happens pretty easily if you hang out with your kids instead of spending every free moment driving them to a class or activity where other adults take them off your hands.
                                                      I could agree that a class in junior high, that all kids took, teaching basic survival skills, would be a good idea.
                                                      It would also be a good idea if we all realized that spending the time to let the kids help with chores is much harder than simply doing it ourselves, but nevertheless an important part of parenting.
                                                      Let your toddler play with the pots and pans, let your 10 year old help plant the garden, and let your 14 year old help you take apart the sink and install the new one. And give them some chores, too. That's how we learn.
                                                      (Parent of three kids, each of whom ended up teaching their college room-mates survival skills like cooking and laundry.)

                                                      1. I think kids should be taught that, as part of health and nutrition classes. Then hopefully they'll go home and want to cook with mom and dad. If mom and dad cook, anyway... I think by time of teenage years it's mostly too late but it should at least be an elective.

                                                        My ex had a 7 year old when we dated. She watched me cook and would ask "what is that"
                                                        "Turkey"
                                                        "Ewwwww what's that?"
                                                        "Garlic"
                                                        "Ewwwwww"

                                                        If I did that my mom would've smacked me. Just like my Ex's kid learned how to read at school rather than by her largely illiterate father, maybe it would be a good idea to teach her and the other kids about food, where it comes from, and how to get it a certain way on your plate.

                                                        1. What's wrong with learning how to cook from YouTube videos or recipes or any other non cooking class way? That's how I learned. I could cook well enough not to starve by the time I moved out and figured out the rest on my own. If schools want to offer it as an elective, fine, but it's silly to require it.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                            I think OP is underestimating the internet as a resource. In this day and age, schools are making a movement to use technological resources to supplement their lessons. From virtual labs for science classes to the use of speech recognition software for use in language classes, it is of no question the value of the computer as a learning tool. I learned how to build the very computer im typing on from youtube. And guess what? I learned to cook from it as well. The internet is a constantly expanding archival resource. I was able to follow Julia Child as she made a French Omelet. I learned from Jacques Pepin as he taught me to make a to debone a chicken for a chicken gallantine. I learned how to shape xiaolongbao and roll out a croissant. And never have I had a cooking class.

                                                            1. re: PrinceZuko

                                                              I don't think there is anything wrong with earning from YouTube or other sources online. I use them too. But you have to be self motivated to learn how to cook or how to do a specific technique. That's all great and I'm very thankful those resources are there. But there is a difference between pursuing an interest on your own and being exposed to a skill in an educational environment. Home ec was required when I was in school (don't ask). If I hadn't taken home ec, I may have resented my mother's teaching me (to help her out, BTW, while she was raising two other younger sibs) and may have hated cooking the rest of my life. But combining my home experience and being in a classroom, I was socializing while I was learning, having one on one with my teacher who was at my side instructing me or correcting me, and I gravitated to the benefits of cooking for people. It's fun and very rewarding with many intrinsic benefits.

                                                              1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                Hmmm. I guess I just don't see the difference in watching a video or reading a book and following along with the instructions versus going to a class. Frankly, it sounds like school to me. A lack of interaction or "socializing" isn't really an issue for me since people can generally access someone in their life to clarify a point or ask a question. Personally, I found it fun and that's what motivated me. Plenty of people don't enjoy cooking and aren't motivated to learn about it. I suspect those same people would just do the bare minimum in a class and never practice those skills.

                                                          2. Summer school and it could include everything people above have mentions, cars, finances, etc. But, convince taxpayers that it's worthwhile and you'll hear howls. That would be a good entrepreneurial idea--a summer camp that teaches basic life skills. Pick and choose the skills you want to learn from a list.

                                                            The thing is, for us here, cooking is important. But go to a sewing board and you'll probably hear similar complaints about kids and sewing. Auto mechanics? I have no desire to learn to sew, even hem, or change my oil. I can pay someone. And cooking is along the same lines. If someone is willing to pay for food and has no interest in cooking, why should they?

                                                            12 Replies
                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              I disagree. Cooking is not along the same lines. You can survive without knowing how to sew on a button or change your oil. Cooking is a survival skill. The blogger I mentioned in the OP questioned the necessity for home ec classes when you can just use your iPhone, go to a video and there it is. That's a very naive view of the world. To assume there is and will always be an internet connection is naive. I just spent six hours with no internet, no cable, no phone and I'm not in the wilds of Alaska. I'm outside of Santa Fe.

                                                              I agree with your idea for the summer camp. I think if the marketing were done correctly there would be a good audience.

                                                              1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                "Cooking is a survival skill. "

                                                                I know quite a few people who can't cook, in fact probably more who can't than can. I get excited when I meet someone who can cook, more than opening cans and processed foods. I can't start a fire w/out a match. That's another "survival" skill that is no longer, as is cooking from scratch. I love cooking. make my own bread, pasta, cakes, etc. Do I think any of that is necessary? No.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  Yeah....well.... You say that...until the zombie apocalypse...then you'll change your tune! ;)

                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                    LOL, I'm hoping to have the zombies who never learned the skill of cooking people be the ones closest to me!

                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                        Especially mine! It's okay because I can parkour and zombies can't. Now, parkour, THAT is a survival skill that kids should learn.

                                                                          1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                            This is parkour done by a young, fit guy:

                                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMppD-...

                                                                            Being that I'm old enough to be his mom, I do it on far, far smaller obstacles and in a safe parkour gym with mats.

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              That's really cool. I think I've heard it called extreme running.

                                                                              1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                Free running. People do meld the two but free running has more tricks/flips. Given the obesity rate, especially the growth among children, learning about nutrition and about movement would be a good thing.

                                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmMPCb...

                                                                2. I learned nothing remotely useful about cooking in home ec classes.

                                                                  My HS had elective classes in cooking. They were much better.

                                                                  It's NUTRITION that should be taught in health class in every school in America. Required.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                    I agree that nutrition should be taught, as well as some fitness. What some schools do for PE is not helpful and tends to make kids hate moving (or at least the non-athletic kids who need it most). They might not pay attention now but it sets the groundwork for the future.

                                                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                      Nutrition IS part of Cooking/food Preparation

                                                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                          except that the "nutrition" that would be taught would be heavily influenced by the likes of General Mills, Monsanto, and all the other big ag firms.

                                                                          if you have any doubts about this, just look at the plethora of Ag Gag laws that dominate the scene.

                                                                        2. I think putting a nutritious meal together is a far more important life skill than the rules of basketball or computer programming. Schools should be teaching nutrition and basic cooking techniques. Only those people who have an interest will teach themselves.

                                                                          1. No

                                                                            Most (stress "most") public schools have enough trouble with things like mat and science. Let's get those down first, then worry about the more peripheral things.

                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              Is eating peripheral? Or is factoring a quadratic equation peripheral?

                                                                              1. re: hal2010

                                                                                One can eat without knowing how to cook - and many do so quite successfully, and happily.

                                                                                Hard to do much of anything - eat or anything else, much less cook - unless you're gainfully employed, or at least gainfully employable.

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  I think those students who struggle with math and science and many of the required subjects might be far better served learning a trade. Like cooking, or plumbing, or drywalling. How many baristas have BA's or a general science degree?

                                                                                  1. re: hal2010

                                                                                    I actually agree with your point, hal2010, but just have to speak up for the baristas out there: I was a barista for 6 years, my husband going on 20 (though he has moved up to management now that we have kids.) Almost every barista I know has a BA or even Master's degrees, but a job's a job when you have bills to pay, and most of the ones I know took it because it also gave them the ability to have flexibility for working on their thesis, writing a book, or working on their real career on the off hours. Your point's valid, I just don't think we should generalize right away. =)

                                                                                    1. re: hal2010

                                                                                      That's what trade school is for, not general high schools.

                                                                                      Taking a 1 hour elective course in high school is no way to learn a trade - be it cooking, or fixing cars, or whatever.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        It's no way to learn a trade, but it is a way to spark interest in something you may not have considered before, and I do think that's what general high schools should be for: to raise interesting and interested adults who are curious to learn more and hopefully contribute something of value to the world, whether it's their thoughts or their skills.

                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                          that's why I sort of like the German model, not everyone goes to the advanced high school, there is a system of 'practical arts' trade schools. they get out a few years early and go off to an apprenticeship. what I don't like is it's decided based on a aptitude test taken at about 12 or 13 and hard to reverse the academic opportunities IIRC should the kid's ambitions change.

                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                            The kids going to the the two other types of schools can move up to the gymnasium after 9th and 10th grade, respectively (which is the graduation year for Hauptschule/Realschule).

                                                                                            So they can still decide later if they want to finish the school and get a degree after 13 years to get into college (which, btw, is free).

                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                              thx for the clarification, I knew their fates weren't entirely fixed and sealed, but couldn't remember the details.

                                                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    I know it was a simple typo, but mat and science made me think of the game Twister

                                                                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                      It made me think of glass houses.

                                                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      I totally agree. The state keeps adding things to the curriculum and there is very little room for non-academic subjects. In the past several years, our public high school has added three new requirements - an additional year of math, a 1/2 year finance class, and an extra year of language arts. I opted my kid out of Family Life (sex ed) and he is taking a before-school drivers ed/PE option so that he can take a second elective (journalism). Band is his other elective. There is a good culinary arts program and kids who are interested use their elective credits there if they choose.

                                                                                      I learned to cook from my family unit, not home ec in jr. high. I did, however, get my ears pierced and learned *alot* about the sexual antics of my peers.

                                                                                    3. I have to brag. My college junior son sometimes texts me pictures of what he's cooking. Last week it was salmon, and we texted a bit about the recipe. I suggested he add a glaze to the sauteed salmon, and he texts " I thought it was a SEAR"?. I was so proud.

                                                                                      Too bad the "fluid mechanics" midterm didn't go as well as the salmon. :(

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                        My brother, a very good cook, used to call me frequently to tell me that his now ex-wife brought home a bunch of meat he was supposed to cook and he had no idea what to do. Among the mystery meats were "mock tenderloins." He knows perfectly well what to do with a chuck steak, including when it's been cut up to "boneless ribs," but was mystified by this. I told him it was just pot roast and then suggested a few ways to cook it to scare and surprise his wife. He did, she was, and their sons loved it! She's gone, but that stays on the menu!

                                                                                        1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                          I'll bite....how did your brother cook the mock tenderloin to 'scare and surprise' his wife?

                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                            He did a slow braise with red wine and beef broth and veggies. Made smashed potatoes for the side carb, and a salad for the fresh veggies. He also baked brownies for brownie ice cream sundaes for dessert. She was scared to come home to a formally set table and an elegant dinner, including candles - she'd set him up to fail and he came through with flying colors and did it, surprisingly to her, without any snark.

                                                                                            He divorced her after she bailed out on them and moved to the Mainland. She even left her son from a previous marriage with my brother, as well as the son that they had together. Neither of the boys wanted to go stay with their mother (not that she offered, but they refused to go over even for holidays or vacations). The step son stayed with my brother until he graduated from high school, then went to the Mainland for college. His college is in the Midwest, she's on the West Coast.

                                                                                            1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                              that's amusing. sorta sad but amusing.

                                                                                              ehh, as long as the kids are happy with whom/where they are is all that really counts.

                                                                                              1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                                Sorry for the late response. Your brother is a stand up guy. I once had a co-worker who's wife left him for another man. Her two boys (12 and 14) chose to stay with their step-father even though their mother asked them to go with her. He was a pretty good guy as well. I have no idea whether he was a decent cook or not....

                                                                                        2. When I went to Junior High School and High School in The Bronx in the 1950's-1960's, everyone had to take shop classes.

                                                                                          We were not hurt by these classes-it was life preparation-
                                                                                          the only down side was that classes were segregated by sex.

                                                                                          1. I've been a teacher aide in local school district for past few years... LOVE IT! I work with special needs students. First year went to "Foods & Nutrition" with 2 Autistic girls who were mainstreamed & worked along with reg. ed kids in small groups.

                                                                                            One student wouldn't try ANYTHING except cookies/cakes... and that didn't come up often. Other student was a bit hesitant, but pretty much will to try anything. One day they made chicken skewers... chunks of chicken breast, onions, peppers, mushrooms... under broiler, basted with a terriaki glaze. She was kiinda... I don't know??? I asked her if she like individual components and she did. I encouraged her to just take ONE bite... if ya don't like it, that's the end of it. We made sushi... no RAW fish involved. Our's wasn't exactly pretty!?! None of US were especially crazy over the seaweed wrapper, so just unrolled and ate the insides.

                                                                                            I was lucky to have a good amount of basic cooking skills from a fairly early age. When I went away to college (in 1492), was floored by number of friends who were clueless!

                                                                                            I think "home ec" SHOULD be in schools, but think it's one of things that's been pushed out because of NCLB... gotta raise those TEST SCORES or DIE!!

                                                                                            If kids don't get basics of cooking at home or can't get them at school??? They'll be graduating from HS, heading off to college or out on their own, and spending all their money on TAKE-OUT & FAST FOOD!?!

                                                                                            1. I've made one addition to this quote. Sometimes I just write it in a text/e-mail or on a note and hand it to anyone who wants to be considered an 'adult'. Competency at needed tasks and emotional intelligence are my criteria for 'adulthood', irrelevant to calendar age.

                                                                                              “An (adult) human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
                                                                                              Robert Heinlein

                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: kariin

                                                                                                  I've always thought that was a random list. Call me modern but I'd like the people who design our buildings, set my bones, plan an invasion to be specialists and not done by a jack of all trades.

                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                    You're missing the point. The question isn't who should do it when it needs to be done, but who should know how to it just in case. The best specialists I've ever know at anything, were quite capable of doing many things.

                                                                                                    The list, to my mind, is flawed in that it doers not include such essentials as "play an instrument", "mix a proper martini", or "pick up a girl".

                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                      There is no reason for the average person to know a good number of things on the list so I think it is random. Why those things? It makes no more sense that everyone should know those things than they would need to know your list. I have no idea how to mix a proper martini or pick up a girl and have never had an instance where I would need to do either. My random list would include being able to run up and over a wall and know how to roll out of it if I fell, or being able to run more than 10 miles at any time. Again, completely random and I can't imagine thinking that it would be a necessity for everyone. What amazes me about the list and that it's gone around for so long is that there are people who are willing to let others tell them what they need to do to be "well rounded" and not define it for themselves.

                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                        chowser, I think this thread alone demonstrates that each of us will/must/do have our own list based on age, experience, exposure, economics, beliefs and necessity...don't you?

                                                                                                        This topic could never be a one size fits all proposition. The worlds too big, too complicated and life varies for all of us.

                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                          Exactly. That's the importance of lifelong learning. I took home ec as a child but never took to cooking much until I had a family. I enjoyed it but not enough to make the time to learn to do it properly in my 20's. I have a "quaint" idea that education should be about teaching children to love to learn and to know how to go about learning something new and that as adults, we take that with us.

                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                            I share your approach and I (hopefully) raised four kids to believe the value in lifelong learning as well.

                                                                                                        2. re: chowser

                                                                                                          What can I say, Tommy Jeff's notion of the yeoman farmer makes sense to me. Then again, some eggs have more RAM and some backs produce more torque..

                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                            FWIW, MGZ...there's room for all levels of RAM..because this is not a one size fits all discussion.

                                                                                                    2. re: kariin

                                                                                                      Well, I'm pretty solid on that list. However, I've never set a bone, but I have stitched a gash in my leg.

                                                                                                    3. that's a tough question. on one hand i see some parents who don't know how to cook at all and it's really sad. i know this one mom who is a wonderful parent but feeds her kids takeout or boxed foods. at some point don't you just have to step up to the plate and teach your self? but honestly, i had home ec and i only remember one thing we made, blueberry muffins so how much "life skills" can you get from one class? or from any class for that matter? maybe shop and cooking should be a part of science and math. after all cooking and baking is mostly science and shop does require measuring etc. it could also unearth a hidden talent.

                                                                                                      but isn't cooking a life skill and you learn best by living life versus learning it in class? my sister didn't learn how to cook until well into her 20's even though we have the same parents and my mom tried to teach both of us to cook and bake. Only one of us (me) got into it and ran with it.

                                                                                                      1. If the school has the funding to add things like home ec, shop, etc I think thats great.

                                                                                                        However I really get the sense the OP is shaking her cane at the kids crossing her lawn. The internet is just as useful for learning to cook as a cook book and in many way it can even be better. Take baking bread. What does "knead until the dough becomes elastic" really mean if you have never handled dough before? Watching someone in a video *show* you what it means can be so much more enlightening and instructional.

                                                                                                        I actually think being able to type in "how to make pasta Alfredo" makes cooking so much more accessible to people who don't cook. When I was learning how to cook I would have had to go to the library and hope to find a good cookbook. If I was lucky maybe we owned one and if I was even luckier I might have someone to teach me. I happened to be very lucky that when I lived at home I could say to my mom or dad "How do you make x" and they would take the time to teach me. However when I moved overseas as a young adult I would have killed for internet. It was too expensive to call home and ask how to make something and I was not accomplished enough to read cookbooks in another language!

                                                                                                        I also don't understand how learning to cook something via internet is any worse (or better) than picking up a cookbook.

                                                                                                        I actually find it infuriating that so many people expect schools to provide more than academics. Many of those same people then complain about the tax money needed to support the schools.

                                                                                                        As another poster said I would be more frustrated with the parents than the school system. I took home ec and all it was basic instruction on cooking, cleaning, sewing, laundry etc. I really learned all of those things from parents. Shop gave me no more skills than how to use a few basic tools. My folks taught me so much more. These "classes" were never meant to replace parental involvement. s

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                          My friend's daughter is in a very highly rated school in an affluent area. All the kids are involved in AP classes, are urged to have over 4.0 GPAs, and be involved in numerous extracurricular activities. All this towards getting into elite colleges. Anything that's not AP academics is not even an elective, but extracurricular--music, arts, etc. There's no shop offerings, no home ec, no driver's ed (all stuff that my podunk h.s. had, even tho' I eschewed home ec). Many, many of the students are also privately tutored, at some expense, and many go to the same psychologists for stress issues and/or take psychotropic meds for stress.

                                                                                                          Home ec/shop just sounds so simple, back in the day (my h.s. grad was in the early 1970s). I doubt I'd recognize a h.s. curriculum these days.
                                                                                                          Oh, and her daughter cannot make a sandwich.

                                                                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                                                                            in all probability her daughter will get much more out of AP classes and SAT scores than she will lose by not learning to make a sandwich (something that, for most people with average intelligence, really needs no teaching).

                                                                                                            you really feel that a reasonably bright person can't possibly figure out how to cook without a formal class? really?

                                                                                                            i took my first private chef job without ever having a formal class and did just fine.

                                                                                                            on the other hand, would never have made it through calculus, statistics, chemistry, without professional teachers.

                                                                                                        2. Anthony Bourdain wrote a chapter about what every human being (note: not every cook, but every human being) should know what to do regarding preparing food in "Medium Raw." His list is:

                                                                                                          Chopping an onion
                                                                                                          Making an omelet
                                                                                                          Roasting a chicken
                                                                                                          The correct way to grill and rest a steak
                                                                                                          Cooking vegetables to desired doneness
                                                                                                          Making a vinaigrette
                                                                                                          Shop for fresh produce
                                                                                                          Buying a fish, cleaning it, and making it
                                                                                                          Roasting meat
                                                                                                          Roasting and mashing potatoes
                                                                                                          Braising meats and vegetables
                                                                                                          What to do with bones (a.k.a. How to make stock)

                                                                                                          When I was in high school (1965-69), boys WERE NOT ALLOWED to take Home Ec. We had to take shop. I liked shop and I was good at it, but I had been cooking since I was ten years old, was a big fan of Julia Child, and dearly wanted to take the Home Ec class. How short-sighted our school was. Happy ending: a few years after I graduated, the school reversed its policy and began allowing boys into Home Ec classes.

                                                                                                          As a former high school English and Spanish teacher, I tend to agree with Ipsedixit's opinion that there are (or were--I haven't been in the education arena for years and have not kept up) too many fluff classes in high school. However, I agree with Hal 2010 that knowing how to cook is a survival skill. And the basics can be picked up pretty quickly--say, one semester devoted purely to cooking--not nutrition, not bookkeeping for the home, not cleaning techniques, etc.

                                                                                                          Elsewhere in his book, Bourdain says that the morning after you sleep with someone, you should have the skills to offer that person, a delicious omelet . . . I agree with that.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                            I do not see anything on that list that remotely is or should be the responsibility of a public middle or high school. I would never expect my son to learn these things in school. A speciality camp or after school club maybe but not in school.

                                                                                                            My son's school does offer things like yoga, cooking classes, gardening etc but these are after school clubs, are not required and cost money. The public schools don't have these options but the town's community center do. Again, they are optional after school programs for a fee. Like I said earlier that if the school has the funds to support these kind of electives that would be great but is should not be the expectation. The expectation should be at home.

                                                                                                            A nearby town has been fighting for years for an override to fund the public school and it gets voted out, albeit narrowly every year. People want better school with more options but rarely want to pay for it.

                                                                                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                              I agree that it's not necessarily something that has to taken by everyone and not during the school day. After school would be great. And, I still think nutrition is far more important than basic cooking skills.

                                                                                                              Our school district actually has a culinary specialty degree. I think it's an awesome program because not everyone does want to go to a traditional four year college. It does help that this is a high income area.

                                                                                                              http://www.fcps.edu/ChantillyAcademy/...

                                                                                                            2. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                              i think Bourdain's view of the world is quaint, and outdated, and, in many ways completely ridiculous.

                                                                                                              fortunately for him, it is also entertaining and there is a huge demand for entertainment these days. . . .

                                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                My first smile of the day! Thinking of Bourdain as quaint.

                                                                                                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                  Bourdain...Quaint and full of whimsy.

                                                                                                                  1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                    oh he's just a big teddy bear.

                                                                                                                    a big foul-mouthed teddy bear in narcotics recovery with a wicked smart sense of humor...

                                                                                                            3. But doctors do continue to learn from articles, videos, internet, etc. They just apply that to the groundwork of their previous education, training, and experience - much like a good cook can get inspiration or learn new techniques from a cookbook, magazine, or TV show. If anyone is interested in cooking, old or young, I imagine they find a way to learn about it. I wouldn't generalize under-30's - I know plenty of older people who couldn't make toast. I have an aunt and uncle with no interest at all in cooking, but their two daughters are addicted to the Food Network.

                                                                                                              If your niece doesn't know what to do with a cucumber, I'd say it's your sibling's fault - not the school's. I'd rather my hypothetical kids learn about computers, math, literature, etc. There's always Girl or Boy Scouts for "survival" skills.

                                                                                                              1. I love to cook now (having learned most of what I know from ATK), and theoretically support the idea of home ec. My memories of my actual 9th grade class, however, mostly revolve around the chaos inherent in having one teacher supervise scattered and independently-operating small groups, complicated by playing with fire and 14-year-old gender politics ("do the dishes, woman"). The only thing I learned well enough to recall 20 years later is that it is a really bad idea to mistake salt for sugar.

                                                                                                                1. Back in the day, Home Ec prepared us gals for one thing and one thing only: being a homemaker. So, while I could boil water, class didn't answer all the questions that rattled my soul like: how can I turn this information into a career!!

                                                                                                                  Today, that question is even more important.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    If the Guidance department would open their doors to students much, much earlier (like before college app deadlines) and offer workshops on career development and paths that lead to career subjects: like those covered in Home Ec, Shop, Sewing, Typing (yes it all began with Typing 101), Languages and the like then at least some information could be framed into real beneficial paths of knowledge. Workshops could prompt students to further explore (online, in libraries, in college admissions offices, in tech schools, while attending college fairs) specific information about why these subjects continue to have value.

                                                                                                                    I don't see how public schools could budget for these electives properly in the current climate of edu budgeting today. I also wonder given the # of food allergies, dietary restrictions and notes that parents send their students to school with today how a basic Home Ec course would even survive. When I was in school refusing to eat the food we prepared in class wouldn't even occur to us.

                                                                                                                  2. I graduated from high school in the 80's as did my older sister. We were required to take both home ec and shop.
                                                                                                                    Sis still makes the chicken rice casserole we learned in Mrs. Kelly's home ec class. Also, still the best yeast dough recipe we learned was from home ec.
                                                                                                                    The shop class is paying off in the renovation we are doing of a 106 year old house.
                                                                                                                    Yes, I am a college educated professional and I learned to cook some from my family but I enjoyed and appreciate what I learned in public school in 8th grade. Practical skills are necessary.

                                                                                                                    1. I think food classes in school would be successful if all they did was spark interest in cooking, especially in the young ins. I peruse recipes and video tutorials constantly but I have many non-cooking friends, who love to eat, that have absolutely no interest in it.

                                                                                                                      I think cooking doesn't have to be a semester long class per se, but maybe a lab that classes attend for a few days or week. If done correctly, math, chemistry, nutrition, culture, and problem solving can all be taught along with some basic cooking skills.

                                                                                                                      1. When I went to high school in the 90s, all the kids at my school had to take a quarter of cooking, a quarter of sewing, a quarter of woodshop and a quarter of metalshop in the 8th grade. In the 10th grade, we had to take a class called consumer education that taught us about budgeting, using credit, a bit about the legal system, interview skills and how to write a resume, etc. I still regard consumer ed as the most purely useful class I took in high school.

                                                                                                                        In my perfect world, I'd have subbed out a quarter of basic car maintenance for that quarter of metal shop (making my own dustpan with tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment no one I know owns was not a general purpose learning experience), but otherwise combined all of those things (and added a few like "how to get along with roommates and not end up fighting over whose loaf of bread this is" and "this is what a lease/employment contract/cell phone contract/credit card agreement looks like" and "here's how you tip on a restaurant bill" and "pizza is not actually a balanced diet no matter what that joke about the four food groups says") into a class kids had to take for a semester each year of high school called "Grownup 101".

                                                                                                                        Cooking skills are important, and it would be fantastic to have them placed into the larger context of "these are the things you need to know to navigate the world on your own". I had the benefit of *most* of that stuff, and I think it served me well, but there's a few more things I'd have definitely liked to have plugged in there that proved a pain in the ass to figure out as a grownup.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                          Oh yeah. Real science-based nutrition so people wouldn't constantly be falling for the latest diet fad. That would be great! You can teach basic chemistry through cooking, too.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                            one can't really effectively learn atomic theory through cooking.

                                                                                                                            cooking will not prepare you to be able to succeed at premed courses or pre chemical engineering courses.

                                                                                                                            if you think that, you are living in an alternative universe.

                                                                                                                            the kids who lingered in home ec area in middle school, are now all trying to find jobs as cake decorators and bakers and are living with their parents at 22 years old completely devoid of any skills that can be used to earn a living.
                                                                                                                            maybe you can figure out a way to remediate the wrong that was done to them when they were given the idea that cooking dessert was a "valuable skill."

                                                                                                                            maybe if they were taught how to design and fix the machines that actually make the bulk of the cakes in this country, they wouldn't be watching TV most afternoons completely adrift in their parents. dens.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                            "this is what a lease/employment contract/cell phone contract/credit card agreement looks like"

                                                                                                                            yes that and learning that some practices are legal in some cities but not others. questions have to be asked, but one has to know what questions to ask.

                                                                                                                          3. I agree that these life skills should be taught in schools. However, I'd place heavy emphasis on finances, lighter on food prep. Muffin making to teach measuring, folding, etc, and maybe using dried beans to make hummus or other vegan dishes, and more.
                                                                                                                            Mainly, address finances so that the students can run their households/lives efficiently and knowledgeably.
                                                                                                                            That way, should they decide they never want to scramble another egg in this lifetime, they'll be able to work in the carry-out budget successfully. :)

                                                                                                                            1. Please, please, please don't fall into the trap of assuming that all millenials are hopeless in the kitchen. I'm 30, which puts me on the cusp of gen-X and Millennials. I've been cooking for as long as I can remember, and started cooking full meals for my family in 5th grade. I can cook circles around my mother and aunt. I learned a lot from my grandmother, but even more from reading cookbooks and watching PBS cooking shows. Most of my friends are the same, and all without home ec in school. Honestly, home ec would have been a waste of time for me, and I really would have resented it if it kept me from taking arts classes or AP science classes.

                                                                                                                              I'm all for offering home ec as an elective in school, but many students are better off spending their time elsewhere. There are ways of teaching bare minimum life skills without requiring a full class. In AP chemistry, we used the lesson on freezing point to make ice cream, and a lesson on combustion was dedicated to cooking on the grill. We frequently read and talked about recipes in Spanish class. We had fungus day in AP biology, and everyone brought in a dish containing edible fungi.

                                                                                                                              1. I took home ec. Total waste of time. Learned to sift flour and stew prunes. I learned to cook by watching/reading Julia Child, Silver Palate, other TV cooking shows, Harold McGee, etc. And then the internet.

                                                                                                                                I never took shop, either, but I learned to do minor auto and plumbing repairs, re-wire a lamp - all thanks to books, TV, you-tube, internet. I figured out how to remove the mastic (no, no asbestos, I had it tested) from the concrete floor and next week I'll be shot-blasting it.

                                                                                                                                School is not the only/best place to learn.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                  Completely agree on the Home Ec point. The first unit of my semester was cooking (not far from what JV describes), and we were required to supply ourselves with aprons. The second unit was sewing, and we made...aprons. Sort of summed up the whole thing, even to my 7th grade mind.

                                                                                                                                2. I would MUCH rather they use that limited educational time to teach them how to manage money responsibly. Most people get out of high school with NO financial management skills at all. They can't even manage to avoid overdrawing their checking accounts by using debit cards all day long. They get out of college knowing little more. Then they go on to take out mortgages they can't afford, buy cars they can't afford, and rack up huge amounts of consumer debt. On top of massive student loans.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                    funny - a friend of mine used to be in marketing for Capital One when they were pitching the (then early) idea of pre-paid credit cards for minors, the main point was it would teach the kids that plastic has limits, but in a scenario without severe penalties. well that and she blurted out in front of the board "and it's not like your kid can go out and buy a dime bag with it!"

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                      In Home Ec in the mid-70's, we had a rather extensive section on money. We balanced checkbooks, learned to make a budget and to comparison shop. The very best presentation was showing a purchase on a credit card and how the interest works. It was an invaluable lesson!

                                                                                                                                    2. They shouldn't ever have taken it out... especially today, when parents are too busy working to teach their kids how to look after themselves, and so many people rely on fast food for a large part of their diets. Home-ec should be compulsory for all 15-yos - call it Survival Skills and teach them the basics. They don't really need to know how to bake a 6-layer cake - they need to know how long to boil an egg, and that you can make mashed potatoes from scratch etc.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                                        "you can make mashed potatoes from scratch etc."

                                                                                                                                        My kids had the opposite experience. They saw their friends family making macaroni and cheese from a box, and were mystified. During a recent summer visit I let my son on to a little secret; garlic was available already chopped and in bottles, He was like "wait; WHAT??"

                                                                                                                                      2. If schools are focusing on health and fitness, they need to teach cooking. Alternate w/PE or something. There are two generations of kids who don't know how to cook. These are the people who are low income, and buying fast food to feed their families. Only way to change this is to teach the kids. Giving the parents 'free' vegetables, etc, is worthless because they don't cook.

                                                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                          That's a pretty sweeping generalization. Who are these 2 generations who can't cook? I know people from every generation who are horrendous cooks and amazing cooks. Plenty of people with low incomes are wonderful cooks. And some aren't. To me, cooking is like any other skill- if you have the interest, you'll learn. If not, it's a waste of time to take home ec or shop or sewing or whatever else some consider essential skills.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                            "These are the people who are low income, and buying fast food to feed their families. "

                                                                                                                                            I live in the second highest income zip code area in the country and this is true for them. It has nothing to do w/ wealth, or lack of it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                              Agreed. I work with a woman who easily makes 6 figures as does her partner. They have 4 kids, none who are over scheduled but each with different extra curricular activities. While she enjoys cooking the reality for her is subway and the like 3-4 times a week because no one is home at the same time to eat a meal and no time to cook. She usually has 2 and her partner has 2 traipsing around town between activities. They eat in the car.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                              I'm 31 and I know how to cook. My high school had Home Ec but it was an elective that I never had room in my schedule for (I did music and foreign language and computer classes as electives). I taught myself to cook in my 20s by watching Food Network. I grew up knowing how to bake, but my mom never taught me much about cooking, because she didn't do much of it herself... she worked full time and relied on convenience food. She's a great cook actually, but when we were kids, she just didn't have time. Didn't help that we were kind of picky eaters so she just didn't bother trying new things.

                                                                                                                                              I occasionally volunteer with a program called Cooking Matters, it's part of Share Our Strength. They have 6 week long cooking and nutrition courses geared towards all types... some geared towards parents alone, some geared towards parents and kids together, some towards day care providers, and even some towards people who get food from food banks. It's a great organization, wish I had time to volunteer more often. I would suggest looking into this program in your area if you're interested in helping to change things.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                I'm 29 and can cook, been using a chefs knife since at least 7. But my friends who are 28, 29, 30, and 33 can't cook at all or have very limited skills. My bf is french and is 39 and can't cook anything other than pasta noodles. I don't think he's ever chopped a vegetable his whole life.

                                                                                                                                                As for my parents generation... I've yet to meet an aunty who can't cook. Same for the uncles.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                  Exactly--so we don't need cooking skills for survival these days.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                    Nope. But my non-cooking friends also happen to be obese lol.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                      Which is why learning about nutrition and fitness would be helpful. Look at the size of many chefs. Obviously knowing how to cook isn't the key to being slim.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                        Balance. Which is why I suggested in some post that cooking could be taught along with chemistry, nutrition, math, world culture etc. I don't think it should be something teenagers take 8 semesters of, but with some creativity it could be a, what we referred to as "lab", for youngins a day or two out of a semester.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                          I suggested afterschool or summer school so those interested could take it if they want. But, there are budget problems everywhere. What's more important band/orchestra/choir or cooking? It all costs money.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                            Certainly depends on schools. Would not be a problem in the district I attended but it's a different story for the school 15 minutes south, and even more so for the one that's 30+.

                                                                                                                                                            My school had one cooking class a semester. So 30 kids a semester could take it. Everyone was always so jealous. I want to say that every year we had 1-2 semesters that we could take whatever class we wanted. Or was it 1-2 for the whole 4....

                                                                                                                                            3. i fail to see why we need highly educated teachers (people with Bachelor's degrees) to teach kids how to peel a cucumber.

                                                                                                                                              it is horrible enough that, for the most part, our kids are not taught second languages until they are in high school.
                                                                                                                                              it's even more appalling that the math skills of kids in our country rank as low as they do.

                                                                                                                                              teaching a kid how to make pasta should be done at home if the parents think this is important--certainly not in the small window of opportunity that exists during school hours that the kids can actually concentrate on math, science, english, technology. many parents CAN'T, themselves, teach these critical subjects. on the other hand, most parents CAN can hobble together enough teaching skill and subject mastery to teach a kid how to prepare a meal.

                                                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                but westside, teaching a child a foreign language is all about making them a well rounded individual with a broad understanding of the world around her or him. the vast majority of students will never need to speak french or german if they live in the US, and even Spanish is iffy for many. As for your use of calculus, how wonderful for you. But even most professionals have no use for it on a regular basis. It seems to me you speak purely from your personal life experience, not the broad spectrum of peoples lives. I'm not saying that I think home ec needs to be a required class, but in many schools it's not even an elective any more. Not everyone is geared to academics, especially in Jr. High School.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                  I'm curious about how many school systems don't have a "Family Science" type elective. I don't know of any but am obviously limited. If we let kids in junior high school decide which academic courses they might not need, the majority would opt out of math and the other STEM subjects because they require more work. As it is, we see on these boards people who can't figure out tips or how to convert cake batter to different size pans. I think that is worst than someone who makes a cake from a mix because he/she can't do it from scratch.

                                                                                                                                                  This is eye opening on how important math is and how it's not understood:

                                                                                                                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN9LZ3...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                    "teaching a child a foreign language is all about making them a well rounded individual with a broad understanding of the world around her or him. "

                                                                                                                                                    I think that if a child/student gets the most out of her/his learning a foreign language, they would become well-rounded and learn about the world.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                    I dont know about the rest of the U.S., but here in New York, language is taught in middle school.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PrinceZuko

                                                                                                                                                      When I was in middle school here in ca, approx 94-97, we had only Spanish to learn. Our schedules were pretty stringent, since I was already in orchestra I had no room for language til I entered high school. Then it was 4 years of German.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                      I learned more about the structure of the English language by studying French and German than I ever did in an English class.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                        +1. I had no idea what SVO was until I took Native American linguistics in college. Professor liked me enough to allow me into the 600 field studies course the next semester. Hoooooooly moly no idea how I got an A in that. But I learned a LOT. Not just about the language but the people. Truly inspiring..

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                          SVO?

                                                                                                                                                          seeing things from a different perspective is more valuable than one can quantify.

                                                                                                                                                          "oh they put their nouns after the verb or the adjective before the noun!" now I see why my base language does it this way.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                            It also gives you sympathy for those who are trying to learn English and how difficult learning a language is.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Although this makes a good, satisfying "what're they teachin' the dang'd kids these days, eh?" grumpy-old-man rant, I can't think of any class in either my middle or high school years that I'd want to replace with a cooking class. If asked what other classes I'd like to have the opportunity to take, there would be dozens before cooking came up. So, in a reality of limited budgets and overworked teachers, cooking would be way, way down the priority list for me. And it would be way, way down my priority list for any kid of mine.

                                                                                                                                                          My mother begged me and my sister to at least watch her cook, so we'd know the basics. And she would *still* have been appalled at the suggestion that precious school time should be wasted on teaching cooking.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Well, I decided against responding directly to more than a couple nonsensical posts on this thread. Instead, I note simply, that my post-elementary school classes included Home Ec, Wood Shop, English Lit, and AP Calculus. Yesterday, I made raviolis sauced with tomatoes I grew, refinished a salvaged church pew, reread parts of 'Adventures in the Skin Trade', and never once considered infinitesimals or the fundamental theorem.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                              you slacker. I calculated the shear AND moment forces on an eccentrically loaded cantilever beam, wild-foraged woodland greens, parsed Thomas Hardy for traces of a proto-feminist outlook and shaved abandoned barn boards down for a butcher-block table.

                                                                                                                                                              kidding, I have some kind of the flu and slept.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Cooking should be taught in the home. I learned basic cooking from my parents. I refined my skills by taking classes.

                                                                                                                                                              When schools make it mandatory or an elective, a majority of the students won't remember what was taught. They'll take a class because it's "easy".

                                                                                                                                                              Also, the reality is cooked food is readily available if you have cash.

                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                Here's a question: With Home Ec removed from curriculum at this point, who's qualified to teach it? In our district, public school teachers at either the Junior High or High School level would first have to be certified on the tax payers dime to teach an elective or for those willing to take a stipend outside the scope of their contract to teach after school. Since we are already paying close to $150,000. a year in substitute teachers, I don't see our current faculty jumping on the 'bring back Home Ec' wagon soon.

                                                                                                                                                                And as a taxpayer, it's cheaper to send students to the local park, community college or youth center for cooking classes. And more engaging with their parents to sign up for semi-private cooking lessons offered by area chefs, caterers and cookbook authors.

                                                                                                                                                                But in the end, I still believe basic skills are best taught over the 20 plus years you still have a hand in raising your kids. And if you feel ill equipped, enlist family, friends, community opportunity to assist you.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                                    As long as 'your village' believes in collaboration.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                    On upside about our present times is the internet is loaded with information and instructional videos with a majority of the info being free!

                                                                                                                                                                    Home Ec degrees are disappearing. The Home Ec program was rolled into Food Science during my college years about 15 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                      One of my sons got his degree this way including a year abroad in France, so yes I'm aware at the college level what's going on but I was focused on the jr & high school level at the time I wrote my comment. Good to hear your pov, dave c!

                                                                                                                                                                1. I remember so well. When I started Junior High School back in 1975, it was the first year that they were going to allow boys to take Home Ec and girls to take Shop class.

                                                                                                                                                                  Our school had a beautiful Home Ec room with a kitchen that had 6 separate ovens and sinks and dishwashers, and two rows of sewing machines. I was actually looking forward to learning how to cook something, or use the sewing machine, as I was fascinated by how they work (I still am, actually...).

                                                                                                                                                                  But the Home Ec teacher was this stern woman with a big gray bun on her head, big horned-rim glasses and sensible shoes. She was NOT happy having, as she called us, "rowdy little terrors" in her nice neat room. We were not allowed to touch ANYTHING. The class lasted half the school year and after two months of sitting and listening to lectures on cooking and knife safety, she finally let us into the kitchen where we sliced pre-made cookie dough onto cookie sheets and baked it.

                                                                                                                                                                  As for the sewing machines, we were never allowed anywhere near those.

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mwk

                                                                                                                                                                    My oldest child would be hitting the plus one buttons right about now, mwk. Note for note.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mwk

                                                                                                                                                                      this sounds SOOOO familiar.

                                                                                                                                                                      ours was a fierce woman named Willa Furch. I liked her, but I think she was worried we'd burn ourselves or not clean up properly afterwards.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I was part of the first co-ed shop class in the 7th grade in my hometown. There was required co-ed Home-economics as well. That's where I learned how to properly sew on a button.

                                                                                                                                                                      Although I already knew how, we were taught how to change a tire in driver's ed. Thankfully, I have not needed to change a tire in about 8 years. (Although I would suggest anyone with a car to have a AAA membership, you never know when you will need their assistance. My brother had to call AAA to get his keys locked inside his truck. He was at our cabin, left the keys AND his 8 month old black lab in the truck. The dog locked himself inside. I wish I had been there to see it.)

                                                                                                                                                                      I learned how to wash clothes in the 7th grade. My mother refused to touch our sweaty football and wrestling stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                      I learned how to cook at an early age from my mother. My father became a cook in the army because when he finished basic training, the sergeant asked if anyone knew how to cook. My father learned how to cook because his mother worked nights so he and his two older brothers ended up making supper for their family starting at a young age.

                                                                                                                                                                      I am pretty sure home-ec is still offered in our school district.

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                        John - I learned how to do laundry after my mom kept finding my cigarettes in the pockets.

                                                                                                                                                                        I was more careful with other substances...

                                                                                                                                                                        AAA is valuable, I can change a tire in no time flat, but if it's dark and cold and I'm in a city, hell yes.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. In my home ec classes, the only kitchen "skill" we learned was how to dye Wonder Bread and cut it into fancy shapes. This was to prepare us to entertain our husbands' colleagues.

                                                                                                                                                                        I did learn to sew quite well.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Anyone a member of http://www.aafcs.org/ ?

                                                                                                                                                                          Looks like they are the historic association of home ec professionals - Family and Consumer Sciences.

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                              professional Home Economists belonged to the American Home Economics Association

                                                                                                                                                                              just read that AHEA changed name in 1994

                                                                                                                                                                            2. There was a great discussion on this today on PBS radio.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. Another point that runs across my family dinner table conversation involves the amount of money school districts budget for athletic programs. We love sports. We play sports. We believe athletics are important. BUt-school budgets rarely cut there. Our district spends millions on sports. The holy grail. Parents of kids enrolled in Pop Warner, field hockey and soccer are looking at full ride/scholarship dreams for their kids but how many students will go through life grateful that throwing or kicking a ball set them up for the future?

                                                                                                                                                                                If 10% of the sports dept was kicked over to life skills it could make a significant difference year to year without adding to the budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                  Agreed. Ask most taxpayers for an override to build new sports facilities, etc and those are passed. Ask for overall school improvements- physical plant improvements, technology, arts programs, and the like and the over rides don't get the votes. Its pretty sad.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Part of the problem isn't that people don't learn how to cook. Even more basic is the fact that they don't learn how to eat. In France, teaching kids about food and socializing at meals is part of school curriculum--they learn it from the meals served at school, at least that's what I gather from "French Kids Eat Everything." IF you don't know what food is, you aren't likely to get involved creatively with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                                                    SO TRUE, Father K. I just about lose it over children with picky eating habits. A friend's 8 year old, who comes to our house very often and up until now has been quite openminded about food (mackerel, sauer kraut, etc.) turned on a dime last week. One of the favorite dishes I make for her is pasta prima vera, basic pasta with fresh vegetables in a cream sauce. She LOVES it. Suddenly, now that school has been in session for two months, she won't eat it because she doesn't like the "veggies on top." Tell me that's inherent. Tell me that's not peer influence. Tell me it's a phase. I know she got it from kids at school. The twisted eating habits of children and many parents (from which it is derived) is absurd. Many parents and adults not only accept it but encourage it and talk about it in front of their kids. Sarah doesn't like vegetables. Michael won't eat whole wheat pasta. It really makes we wonder sometimes who is the parent?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                      Or, we can rail happier toward the eventual acceptance of growth and maturity, confidence that one day we'll be our children's consultant (when asked) and not master.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Whatever the 'pressure' to define us, ultimately most of us learn to live on our own two feet; including how we deal with food.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Young people will buckle under your weight if you focus on how they don't measure up-but, they can also surprise you when cooler heads and wisdom are offered.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Children will remember how you made them FEEL. About food, about life choices, and about their mistakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Pasta prima vera as a food battle? How about teaching young people how to make their own dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                        This is part of my concern. When 8 year old comes to our house she watches the Cooking Channel--has for about 2 years. Loves it, loves the pastries, cupcakes, T. Garvin, the "cocktail girls," and Unique Eats (she even has a favorite reviewer). So she thinks she wants to be a chef. She helps us in the kitchen all the time, since cooking is our main activity and we have a huge kitchen so everyone can pitch in. She has made pizza, Christmas cookies, chocolates, soups, helps with mise en place with supervision, etc. We are starting to take her seriously about becoming a chef, or having a role in food. My concern is that peer pressure at school is turning her away from having an open mind toward food. I don't care if she doesn't become a chef, I just want her to keep an open mind. Her father is German, her uncle is Indian, her mother is part Russian and I'm everywhere in between, so she's in an excellent environment for learning how to make her own dinner. I don't push because I am not a parent (or grandparent), but why do parents let their kids get to the point of dictating what they will and will not eat. As Jacques Pepin said, his kids just ate what they ate, they really didn't have a choice and never asked, let alone dictate. I just don't get it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                          Okay, as a loving influence in her life you have the opportunity to help her keep her options open. At eight, she may be way ahead of most kids her age in what she's accomplished so far. Peer pressure is also very real but offer balance, compromise, an ear, a shoulder, be her supporter. Unless she's in some serious danger (refusing to eat at all) she sounds like a typical eight year old to me. They change their minds, they get emotional, they don't have all the answers.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Teach her to be confident...and the world and the food world is her oyster.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                            Very good advice, HillJ. She is a typical 8 year old--that's what worries me :-) I've seen other kids behave the same way and end up with a life long pattern of eating junk and having a very narrow palate. But I will take your advice and be supportive and hope and pray she gets thru this icky phase. We will continue to surround her with good food, real food, food from the garden food from India, Germany, Russia, Singapore and Wisconsin. Hopefully that will promote a very open mind when it comes to food.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                              How could she fail with good intentions and supportive food pals surrounding her? Just don't worry so much. Kids pick up on adult signals and can misinterpret them.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                A good time to read a Bad Case of Stripes. Children have to maneuver through peer pressure. Coming from such a diverse background, I'm guessing she might just want to try to fit in in other areas. It's a hard age when you're "different". Hopefully she'll be able to outgrow it before it's far more serious than just avoiding certain foods. Kids change, overnight. As long as the seeds are planted, they can grow at any time. I'd be curious to know how many CH started out as picky eaters and became adventurous over time.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                              My neighbor's twins just started kindergarten. The boy is convinced he's allergic to peanuts - because another boy in school is. He tried a bit of a homemade peanut butter chip brownie and said 'my stomach hurts'. His mom is taking this in stride, saying 'more goodies for me'.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I was an adventurous eater as a kid, but there were certain textures that made me gag - things like stringy squash, cream top from unhomgenized milk, the skin that forms on top of hot chocolate. I don't have fond memories of adults forcing me to eat things that I didn't like.

                                                                                                                                                                                              It's one thing to expose kids to a wide variety of foods, it's quite another to be pushy, or denigrate them (or their parents) for a narrow preference.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                            Another issue here is parents/schools teaching kids about respect. I never ever pointed at someone else's food, drawing, clothing or whatever else and said "what is that?!!! Eww" yet I ran into many kids that did and even adults that do

                                                                                                                                                                                            I remember sitting in break room at work. There were many Filipinos there and my co-worker stared at the filipino guys cake with a really disturbed look (eyebrows going in different angles)
                                                                                                                                                                                            "What IS that?"
                                                                                                                                                                                            "Cake"
                                                                                                                                                                                            "....but... It's PURPLE"
                                                                                                                                                                                            "It's made from a purple yam"
                                                                                                                                                                                            "..... It's purple"

                                                                                                                                                                                            Couldn't just ask "what's that?" And when she walked out he was so annoyed. And told us about how last week he was eating sausages and someone just HAD to tell him "that looks like you're eating testicles." Can't the man eat in peace?

                                                                                                                                                                                            Whatever happened to just asking? Or shuttingTFU?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                                                              At least at its inception, home economics, did not teach that kind of respect. a 1890s HE school in Boston

                                                                                                                                                                                              ".... sold inexpensive and nutritious food to working-class Bostonians for them to take home and eat. This experiment was not a success, as the people targeted by Richards' plan resented the implied paternalism of her efforts to improve their eating habits. ... They also frequently sought to impose Anglo cooking styles on immigrant and minority groups."
                                                                                                                                                                                              http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/h/h...

                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQm1C_...
                                                                                                                                                                                              1955 file, 'Why study home economics'

                                                                                                                                                                                              also discussed on page 195 of
                                                                                                                                                                                              http://books.google.com/books?id=o_jL...
                                                                                                                                                                                              Rethinking Home Economics: Women and the History of a Profession

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                A sign of the times... Although Tuskegee wasn't that long ago. Reminds me of original Planned Parenthood.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                                                                "....but... It's PURPLE"

                                                                                                                                                                                                note to self - never trust this person's speculative judgment on ANYTHING, on any level, business, personal, whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                so how did it taste? I'm guessing she didn't have any (much less offered) I'd bet a mild sweet, not an overly one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I haven't had purple yam cake in a long time but it's sweet and spongy. And it's a pretty purple even without dye.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://adobodownunder.blogspot.fr/201...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I might add, the rudely curious one had not one, but two of those ramen noodle cups everyday. Insta something? And no one ever bothered her about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Won't happen. No one makes money off people who know how to do/fix things themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. What's in your Bug-Out-Bag? Cucumbers and kitchen knife?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I know a lot of you feel it is archaic but I see it a little differently. I deal everday with kids that have no home training, They do not understand the basics of civility. The other day we were having a vocablary password game and the fill in the blank was "income is money that comes from______" and the answer was "working" and over half the class answered "The Goverment". Home Economics promotes well-being of individuals families and societies by teaching how to provide one mislows bigies of basic human requirements for food but it may also be the only guidence or instruction some kids ever have on social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, economic,clothing and effective resources management. NOW more than ever is it time for schools to fill that gap. Just like it did when it opened it doors early to feed breakfasts. Just like it did when started providing counsling. Just like it did when it started handing kids backpacks stuffed with food for the weekends. Schools have allllllways done what is best for the whole child what meets the childs needs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                  half the class answered "The Goverment" - they must be part of Maine's 47%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  But I don't see what Home Ec has to do with teaching kids where their family's income is supposed to come from. Or am I misinterpreting your post?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wish it was possible for schools to fill the gaps. Schools aren't always equipped to fill the gaps. Teachers aren't necessarily trained to fill all the gaps and shouldn't pretend to be (and some do). Guidance departments should do far MORE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Parents enter into the school system when their kids are very young and may not see significant change in district policy that impact every child until their own children are nearly graduating. The process is slow and riddled with red tape. Meanwhile, year after year, kids move on to the next year and next pitfalls. Now, it's not all doom and gloom. Students with a supportive family core, positive peer influences, personal drive and determination and a few school mentors thrive beautifully. One day girlof, you may be in the position to give back!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Schools that can and do address need within a community through local business collaboration, socially responsible food programs, grants through corp sponsors, even being on tv has helped school systems along.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Every school, even within the same district, has a plus and a minus column. Even fancy private schools have issues to deal with. There isn't a one size fits all answer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    All any of us can do is ask: what helps my child succeed in their education path? Where does my school succeed and where does it fail? And what can I do to address the failures?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    When you point to your chest and not outward, you'll find some answers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<When you point to your chest and not outward, you'll find some answers.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Very well said and so very true.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "When you point to your chest and not outward, you'll find some answers"

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I just donated 200.00 dollars of the 500.00 profit i made this weekend to my schools backpack progam( that i am not supouse to know exisits)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I organized "lights out at the food bank" where I led a group of students to gather canned food donations through the neighborhoods leading to the food bank and meeting there before their light went out for the evening
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I teach a nutrition and easy cooking class through the schools catch program
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I earned 1463.00 for the food bank last year
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have held two pop dinners for charity one earning 1000 dollars one earning 2300(sent 100 enviorfit stoves to Africa)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I may not have all of the answers but I dont exactally sit around pointing fingers not trying to be the change I want to see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I applaud your efforts for the benefit of others. Keep going!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                            And once again I have to remind myself that you are still in school yourself and have the drive of someone twice your age. And I mean no disrespect, girlofw.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm an old bird, I've raised 4 children, all adults with food careers today. I'm currently in my 4 career and don't plan to retire. My charity life is also full and important to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Keep doing what you do!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is more than one kind of income . There is earned income and unearned income ..So your answer is incomplete. I do think children need life classes and maybe even character development . If you can provide it in some other classes as well that would be helpful .I do not know if colleges even have home ec departments any more as a major.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. In today's diverse online classrooms, the cooking genre is completely accessible to anyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.craftsy.com/classes/food-a...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nice--that's really comprenhesive! I wonder if recreational culinary schools suffer because it's all online. I still like the hands on approach but it's expensive where I take classes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            When you come down to it, if someone wants to learn to cook these days, lack of material is no excuse. And, there's always Chowhound!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think schools are suffering at all. Online classrooms don't always replace in-class studies or can at all but these classes serve their own unique purpose and will probably expand with time. Like wouldn't it be fantastic to take a online class on Greek cuisine BEFORE you went on vacation there?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for young students, I think these classes could be more comprehensive than a Mom & me class where Mom takes over, or in a classroom as a tutorial, or for a home schooler on a Saturday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, after I posted that, I realized I have to sign up quickly for classes or they fill up so it couldn't be hurting business. There is a lot you can learn online, and it's nice that the option is there. Compare that to even 20 years ago when all we had were cookbooks (and grandmothers if you were lucky).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ever consider being an online cooking instructor, chowser?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I speak a mile a minute and would drive viewers crazy. I'm like a hyped up Rachel Ray, which is why I make a good aerobics instructor but not anything slower (or, when I tried teaching at college, was told I'm like the Energizer Bunny--fine for half an hour but impossible to keep up with after that).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Have you done it? You seem, as much as I can tell from a online presence, like you'd be a great, calm presenter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When it's my turn to cover the BnB I run with my partner in CA we offer a bread making class. But otherwise, I don't have the right kind of time right now to do it. But I love attending classes when I can. Informal, casual classroom settings I love. Like being in someone else's kitchen and just watching them go to town. I love that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And it's really not fair of me to call that activity a class. It's more like a morning lesson with Q & A time and then we eat! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'd love to see Home Economics return to schools in some form. As a music teacher, I'd also love to see the return of more music & arts, but with the state of the economy these things are a BIG struggle for the schools.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Something we're doing at home: teaching my grandson how to cook, just the way I taught him music!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Happy cooking everyone!
                                                                                                                                                                                                            www.FoodWacky.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. After watching this middle school musical production on YouTube (food references included) I'm thinking anything is possible if you're willing to get CREATIVE and RESOURCEFUL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nWjNg...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. For those who feel youtube and videos can replace hands on learning, an interview with Alice Waters, WSJ Magazine's Humanitarian Innovator of 2013.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/S...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Replace, no. Enhance global technique sharing, support in classroom learning and be a tool for the disabled, sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A Waters, a NJ girl!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Edible Schoolyard models are growing all around the country, ie: rooftop urban gardens, free farm land partnerships, argi funded pilot programs and home grown community centers. What's not to love about that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Who said replace? It is a tool like any other. Cookbooks can''t replace hands on learning either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Several posters, both here and on another blog I follow, believe that they do not need personal instruction, that it can, in fact, be replaced with e-learning. If they want to make a dish, they just youtube it and make it. Of course it's a tool. Cookbooks are tools. They all have a place. But for young people--and most of these posters I've interacted with were/are millennials--they are arguing against one-on-one learning. Let me be clear--NOT ALL OF THEM, but many of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bill Moyers recently interviewed Sherry Terkle, author of "Alone Together," and she addressed this very question. There is no substitute for real time, one-on-one learning. Learning can be accomplished at some level by other means, but teaching someone how to learn a skill is most effective in a classroom or next to an instructor or--imagine this--next to a parent or with a family. Contemporary society is losing the value of this as is evidenced by her extensive research. Making classes from MIT available to people in remote locations is a huge value to our society. Making it available to everyone in Cambridge within a rock's throw of MIT--sure, it's a nice thing, but it should NOT replace interaction between a teacher and student. IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sure, hands on learning for cooking is nice, but I'd rather spend my time in school on academics. Others may choose to take a cooking class so it's fine to have it as an elective but it's by no means even remotely necessary. As for videos, I'm not sure you're thinking of them in the right light. They really do act as a one on one instructor. I can watch a video and follow along in my kitchen, pausing and backing up as I go. With the use of videos, I can easily run through 20 peoples' techniques on, say, how to roast a chicken, rather than relying solely on the instructor who's physically present.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, one small quibble. "Were/are millenials" is not accurate. Millenials are a generation like baby boomers, Gen X, etc. You belong or not- you can't cease to be a Millenial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I understand the meaning of the word "millennial." The "were/are" was used to express tense as in some of the posters last week were millennials. Excuse my inaccurate grammar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As for videos, I am thinking of them in the light that makes the most sense to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ah! But isn't that the point? We all, naturally, tend to think of things from our own perspective and consider what value it may have to us. But, the fact that it's useless to you doesn't negate the inherent value of something. It sounds like videos aren't a medium that works for you but that doesn't make them useless. Frankly, I've encountered many things I think are idiotic (iPads, anyone?) but others can't live without them. I thought rice cookers were silly...until I got one. Now, I can wax poetic about my beloved Zojirushi :) Just something to consider.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm not sure where I implied that instructional videos are "useless to me." I have written and produced many videos and it would be foolish to believe they are "useless" in any case. They are an additional tool. My point is that I believe learning a skill should be presented in a comprehensive way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Huh. Ok. Your initial post led me to believe you thought videos were a silly way to learn. So, your only point of contention is that you feel cooking must be taught with an instructor physically present in the same room as the student? I guess I just don't agree. It might be helpful but it's not (to me) an insurmountable obstacle one must toil endlessly to overcome. I don't actually see not have one on one cooking instruction as a negative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's right. Cooking is a very sensual experience--it involves feeling. I can watch the ATK video on how to cut up a chicken but when they get to the point where you "feel" the joint between the wing and the bird, how can that be learned from a video? How do you feel when a tomato is ripe or a steak is done by pressing on it? How can you smell milk that has turned from a video? By just hearing someone say "it smells bad?" Bad to them might not be bad to me. I love the smell of blue cheese and other "fragrant" cheeses, but to someone else, it may smell bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At this time of year we always look up videos on how to carve a turkey, etc. because we don't do it very often, so we need to review the technique. Technique is one thing, feeling, smelling, tasting, hearing (the sizzle) are vital to cooking. It involves all the senses, not just seeing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So, here's what I do when I want to learn a new technique that would be helpful to see (making hollandaise comes to mind as a personal example)- I watch a video a couple times, review the recipe, and make the dish. It seems like you're under the impression that people are JUST watching videos and then announcing they know how to cook. I don't get that at all. Most of the skills I've learned- changing a tire, making meatballs, heck, even how to intubate- have involved watching demonstrations and then performing the skill myself. The physical presence of an instructor doesn't make a ton of difference to me. Ymmv.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A video can replace the lecture/demo part of a live class. It may even be an improvement, since it allows for editing and close up views.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And there is little difference between an in class lab and a home 'lab' - until the teacher (or teaching assistant) starts hovering at your elbow, pointing out what you are doing wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yup. The ability to pause, enlarge a picture, and sometimes write on the screen (with the right technology) is very, very useful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. First of all, the school's need to revamp their programs so all kids get real food at lunch. I was told that "most" school kitchens get frozen food shipped to them and they just zap things in the microwave. I live in Ma., so it could be just here around Boston. My sister in law taught school for 40 years and said the lunch program went away, replaced by institutional food. Sad to hear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But to get back on topic, I think all schools should have home ec and sewing classes for both boys and girls. I started cooking in middle school and it's the first place I ever saw anyone cook from scratch. My mother would cook meat and boil potatoes and use canned vegetables. Those things were nasty. And her food was pretty bland too. It was most likely due to the fact that she didn't like to cook. And her mother, didn't cook much either. I never remember a homemade cookie when we were growing up. In her defense, she most likely needed lessons and we could never afford them. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I feel in love with cooking at school and still cook almost every night for myself, even though my kids have grown and fled the coop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I cook a little with my grandkids and always bring them homemade treats, but they could use some time in the kitchen and their mom doesn't like to cook either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the defense of most women or men today, they have careers and then spend most of the week driving the kids to after school activities to spend much time cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So, yes most definitely would I love to see Home Ec offered in schools today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also, shop would benefits kids as well. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mcel215, your post reminded me of the movie "Toast," the biography of Nigel Slater, the wildly popular British food writer and commentator. His mother's lack of cooking skills drove him toward good food and he went to work at a young age in a restaurant kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          His father was not a nice man. There wasn't much physical abuse in the movie but the verbal abuse was bad. But in the end, Nigel seemed to turn out unaffected for the most part and went on to become a beloved figure in contemporary England.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              May as well teach the kids at least something. They no longer know whether a duck is a bird after being 'streamed' through school. Everyone passes and everyone gets the trophy. Elementary school teacher to trophy shop owner: "Here's a list of all my students. Put each name on a gold trophy for achieving the highest marks during the year". True story my friends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In some districts very true. The pressure or heightened interest to compete is vey real today. Kids, parents, teachers, districts. Everyone wants what they want and then there's paying for it. A trophy of any kind loses meaning if achieving one is not the focus. It's the journey NOT the destination use to mean something....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll not argue that your (anecdotal) story is in fact true, but I'm a bit tired of hearing this chestnut. As the parent of a kid now in college, and another about to go there, I sure did not see this in their middle class public schools, even though a unbiased observer would say both my kids were "very successful academically". This to me is one of those "kids these days" "parents these days" things that gets really old.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What gets old is believing that every example fits every situation. The differences are very wide town to town, state to state and parents hovering today is NO exaggeration. I raised four, all public schooled all college/grad school. Their education experiences couldn't be more different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The level of competition and the need to compete is also very real and tiring. Sure students have lots of options when they get to college and they can get lost in all the choices, take a chunk of courses and graduate without any direction towards a job. Basic skills (like the OP began this discussion over) also vary substantially and if they aren't covered in grade school or at home, are you going to pay for those skills at college..who teaches home ec 101 to a science major?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Yet another article on the value of teaching basic cooking skills in schools--this time in pre-school. It's not just about technique, as many here have proclaimed is easily available in online videos, it's about interacting, tasting, smelling, using math and advancing motor skills.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm all for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.huffingtonpost.com/caron-g...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Did anyone else catch the story on CBS Sunday Morning today about the 100 year old teacher from North Plainfield, NJ still teaching...Home Ec!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/america...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Agnes Zhelesnik didn’t start her career as an educator until the age of 81.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  yes-i watched it wasa lovely story