Should Schools Bring Back Home Ec?

Kate Meaney and Maeve Della Valle

When you think of Home Economics or Shop classes, you may picture a misogynistic past where we forced women to cook and clean and men to be strong bread winners. Why on earth would anyone want to bring back this barbaric past time? Although many people may only view these classes as old fashioned requirements that would only take feminism back thirty years, others know the benefits and skills these classes equip our students with.

Most millenials were not given the opportunity to take Home Economics or Shop class in high school, and they’re suffering because of it. In an article from the Huffington Post, Samantha Kemp-Jackson explains that “[Millenials] don’t trust themselves with basic home repairs …and eat out as many as five nights a week.” This can be blamed on the decrease of students enrolled in Home economics classes. Most adults who took a home economics or shop class feel more confident and comfortable with cooking, cleaning or using tools. Like Ms. Underwood who took shop class in middle school and remembers “ it really well, [she learned] lots of responsibility and seriousness and other skills that go along with that.” However, adults who weren’t given the opportunity, like Mr. Mitchell, believe that they “would have benefited from more time in a wood shop.”

Most current Ipswich High School students wish they were able to take home ec or shop. If given the opportunity, Ellie Keveny could “learn how to pay bills, manage [her] taxes, and cook” while Shannon Gookin would “learn skills that would help [her] later in life.” Students don’t feel prepared to learn these skills on their own and think a class that teaches them would be a great option.

However many administrators believe we should not require schools to teach kids what parents should teach them at home. But some parents don’t feel confident to teach these skills, especially when they can barely do them on their own. And requiring classes can be a complicated matter. Ipswich High School Principal, Mr. Mitchell, believes it may force “students to take a class they may not be interested in” and Ms. Underwood explains that “requirements always come up against difficulties.” And some schools worry about reinstating these requirements because of their sexist roots.

These anxieties can easily be relieved. Home Economics can be taught as a math or health and nutrition class, having the main focus be teaching students how to maintain their finances or eat healthy. Also students can be required to take either home economics or shop class, regardless of gender. This way students are still being taught a life skill but they can choose which one based off their interests.

Home economics used to be considered a science and a crucial part of preparing for life in the real world. While shop class was an experience students looked forward to in high school, that taught them life skills and helped them become comfortable in their ability to use tools and fix things. Now, it is seen as a way to push women back into the role of “homemaker”, which tends to upset the modern women. Although the class would teach you how to cook, clean, and do things that are considered “housewife jobs”, they are very good skill to have for your future life.

Home Economics and shop are needed in high school because students need to learn basic life skills, and take care of themselves throughout their life. Students going to college next year do not always get that opportunity, and will need them to help survive. These classes teach cooking, home repairs, nutrition, and finances. Although these skills could be learned at home or during after school activities, not all students have these opportunities. Schools should be required to teach these life skills to students, because without them they are at a disadvantage in adulthood. Schools need to push past the difficulties that come with required classes in order to help their students live better lives.