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AIBU to think that we need traditional home economics lessons to return?

(42 Posts)
applesauce1 Mon 23-Jan-17 16:14:11

My Gran taught home economics. She taught children how to properly budget, to plan meals for the week, and to shop and budget for that, how often to change bedding and how to launder clothes properly. She basically taught 'home making'. Maybe the fault with this is that it was only taught to girls. I believe that it was pretty much scrapped in favour of food technology.

Do you think that fewer young people today have these skills? I've met young people who tell me they can't boil an egg or make toast (a hyperbole, I'm sure?), or have the latest phone on an expensive contract, while simultaneously struggling at the end of the month, and I don't really know what to suggest.

Would it be very unreasonable to wonder whether for some of the millennial generation, differentiating between needs and wants as a result of not being taught budgeting has set that generation up for financial struggles? Obviously, for many, wages are far too low, but in lieu of that being addressed, do you think being denied these essential life lessons in school, young people find it more difficult to balance the lot they are being dealt by the powers that be? Should traditional home economics be brought back or is it an antiquated lesson structure that we're well shot of?

disclaimer not everyone who struggled financially has the latest phone, that was an anecdotal example of what caused me to wonder about this issue.

harderandharder2breathe Mon 23-Jan-17 16:24:18

Financial management is creeping in, but often is one off days run with assistance from businesses (I work for a financial company and I've done some of the days in a high school, teaching year 9/10 about managing financing as young adults) rather than regularly.

Parents should be responsible for teaching life skills at home though. Cooking, ironing, washing dishes, using a washing machine etc.

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 23-Jan-17 16:29:04

Would it be very unreasonable to wonder whether for some of the millennial generation, differentiating between needs and wants as a result of not being taught budgeting has set that generation up for financial struggles? I am also brought in to facilitate youth learning about budgeting, needs and wants and other skills. It's not the fact that they can't differentiate as much as it is that their housing costs are 90% or more of their budget when they leave school. It's always so easy to blame their profligacy...

But we can't use to school to teach everything then wonder why kids can't read, write or add up. If schools teach citizenship, sex and consent, washing up, PE, arts and behaviour, where is the room? Every time anything is mentioned, "the schools should cover this".

applesauce1 Mon 23-Jan-17 16:30:46

That sounds really useful. I wish I'd had that experience when I was at school.

I agree that those home making skills could be taught by parents, but isn't possible for some. No idea how it would be resourced in schools though. It's probably not a possibility.

I would love to have been taught the budgeting for the week's food at school; I find meals the most difficult thing to budget for.

OneWithTheForce Mon 23-Jan-17 16:31:21

I agree OP. Our home economics class was still called that but we only made food. And it was always things like fifteens or fudge which whilst lovely, was not much use long term.

I also agree that parents should Teach this stuff but plenty don't and more importantly, plenty cant!

corythatwas Mon 23-Jan-17 16:31:27

harderandharder, the problem is that many parents can't cook either

we had very good home economics lessons when I was at school, learning to prepare a proper meal and while it was cooking there would be time for a class on the budget/nutrition side of what we were doing

but have noticed that dc have only got a 45 minute session and very poorly equipped classrooms for cookery lessons, so an awful lot of it ends up being about presentation of ready-prepared ingredients rather than techniques that will help you get the most out of good value foods

so somebody would have to be willing to put that money into redesigning classrooms and the timetables would have to be revamped to allow for double sessions

ImYourMama Mon 23-Jan-17 16:31:48

I think the home skills should be taught at home but financial planning should definitely be taught in schools, along with things like how to manage a current account, what savings interest is and how to get a mortgage.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 23-Jan-17 16:34:03

It would he lovely if this could he done. I loved home economics. Picked recipe one week cooked the next. None of this six weeks planning a sandwich crap or mixing a bunch of packets together and calling it cooking.

However I do agree with pp that parents need to do something. They already teach so much of what should be taught at home without adding this on top.

Redlocks28 Mon 23-Jan-17 16:34:22

I have seen posts on here over the years suggesting what schools should cover-three languages, makaton, first aid, heart start, martial arts, counselling, sex education etc etc

There are just not enough hours in the day. Why is it all the school's responsibility?

Broccolirevolution Mon 23-Jan-17 16:34:27

No! They can read so they can look up a recipe on the Internet. They have maths lessons so they can work out how much they have to spend. They should know to wash their bloody bedding without a lesson at school!
I would be furious if my kids had to do this at schoolangry

MrsBlennerhassett Mon 23-Jan-17 16:39:34

YANBU id really have benfitted from them im so clueless about household stuff and now ive become a mother its being brought to light in a big way lol!!
They should teach about how to handle basic money stuff and which bills you may have to pay and why and basic household maintainance. I actually think it would be incredibly beneficial to women as for my part i have heavily relied on men to do a lot of things that i dont really understand and it would have put me in a stronger postition when i was younger in terms of my relationships to have had the confidence and understanding when i left school about what my financial rights and obligations were etc
Of course now with google and everything i have been able to teach myself a lot but its difficult if you are not even aware of what to learn about in the first place!!
My husband who is older than me actually did do home economics in school and has pretty good cooking skills and household knowledge as a result.

corythatwas Mon 23-Jan-17 16:39:42

Broccolirevolution Mon 23-Jan-17 16:34:27
"No! They can read so they can look up a recipe on the Internet. They have maths lessons so they can work out how much they have to spend. "

In that case, why do they need history lessons? Can't they just look that up on the internet? Geography? They have google earth.

Good cooking (which leads to economic cooking) is partly about techniques: it's a useful kind of thing to learn from hands-on lessons. I am very glad I had the opportunity, and it did not stop my school from also teaching foreign languages, science, maths and other traditional subjects.

applesauce1 Mon 23-Jan-17 16:40:16


totally agree about mortgages and current accounts. Also, savings and ISAs.
On the topic of current accounts, I used to have a TSB account, which has a money manager app. It shows what you spend your money on in a colourful pie chart. That was quite an eye-opener!! Very useful too.

To everyone who says that there isn't the curriculum time, I agree with that too. I don't know how it could be fitted in. I wonder how it worked in the past when my Gran was a teachers

megletthesecond Mon 23-Jan-17 16:41:08

Yanbu. Home Ec for both sexes.

In my day (80's ) only the girls did textiles. Can't quite believe that now.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 23-Jan-17 16:43:12

People could always get together and run classes themselves? Take it in turns to use each others kitchens?

We can't keep expecting schools to cover the basics. That's what we are for no?

toffee1000 Mon 23-Jan-17 16:43:18

Not all schools even have kitchen facilities for kids to use- my brother's doesn't for example. It's a private school so it's not even a question of government money to build one in that case.
It's a difficult one. I can see both sides.

AChickenCalledKorma Mon 23-Jan-17 16:45:18

I did Home Economics. It was fun, but I don't think I learned anything that I hadn't already learned from my parents or (in some cases) Guide leaders (who were rather more keen on housework than my mother was!) And the skirt I made was truly shocking and an experience that should never be repeated.

My daughters both learn "proper" cooking at school, where they have a sensible approach to food tech and teach them stuff like pasta sauces, bread etc in KS3. I really wouldn't want them spending much more school curriculum time on other home making skills.

Broccolirevolution Mon 23-Jan-17 16:47:04

Corythatwas my recollection of home economics around 1990 was a cheese toasty. Not the same as understanding the world wars in a history lesson.
Maybe your experience was better but I also remember learning to wash salad!

dollydaydream114 Mon 23-Jan-17 16:48:18

I certainly think it would be a lot more useful than 'Food Tech', which is what my nieces and nephews do and which frequently seems to involve things like designing a logo for a pizza box, planning a menu for an event and making scones that are precisely the same size to 'meet manufacturing standards' rather than ordinary domestic cooking skills. I have a niece who knows how to package flapjacks to be sold in a shop but doesn't know who to cook pasta.

I did 'Home Economics' at school which consisted of alternating between 'food' (which entailed virtually no actual cooking and a lot of lectures about how wholemeal flour was good for you) and 'textiles' (ie needlework, in which we made an utterly useless cushion).

I definitely think those sorts of lessons could be more usefully replaced with basic cooking skills - such as making a pasta dish, soup, a curry or chilli and a cottage pie - and maybe some household cleaning/maintenance tasks.

I know that parents should teach their kids this stuff, but the fact remains that lots of them don't, and that's how the cycle of families not knowing how to feed themselves properly perpetuates. If every kid learns some basics in school, even the kids who are fed takeaway every night and live in neglected houses will at least have a chance of being able to manage when they leave home.

maddiemookins16mum Mon 23-Jan-17 16:49:05

YANBU, but I'm 52 and did Home Ec/cookery/parentcraft etc. I had my daughter relatively late in life (at 40) and I basically teach her what I was taught at school and home (everything from a basic roux sauce to make lasagna, to sewing a hem on her school skirt and changing a plug etc etc, I'd do the same with a boy).
Many of todays young men and women (in their early 20's through to early 30's) could technically also be my "child". What I don't get therefore is why there appears to be so many "youngsters" who struggle when their parents (my generation) were taught these skills. Is it just we don't pass them on anymore?

applesauce1 Mon 23-Jan-17 16:52:10

The thing about need and wants was also a criticism of myself.
When I left school, I worked in a shop and paid rent but didn't plan ahead for the money that I had. I started up a phone contract for this amazing phone that I really really wanted, but didn't do the budget to see if I could afford it. For a whole year (back when year long contracts existed), I was saddled with this unavoidable monthly expenditure that meant I couldn't afford the driving lessons that I needed.
If I were to do it again, I'd sit down and look at exactly what my outgoings were going to be each month, what I had spare and the things that would come up in the future (birthday presents, driving lessons etc). I'd realise that I couldn't really afford that really lovely phone and stuck with prepay. Am I really the only person that didn't know the difference between what I really wanted, and things I actually needed when I first started this adulthood thing?

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 23-Jan-17 16:52:31

know that parents should teach their kids this stuff, but the fact remains that lots of them don't, and that's how the cycle of families not knowing how to feed themselves properly perpetuates

Thing is the more schools take away from parents the more parents expect school to do for them.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Mon 23-Jan-17 16:57:35

11yo dd has been doing food tech this term and demonstrated her knife skills by cooking us stuffed peppers for dinner on Saturday, so they are definitely getting the cooking part right in some places. They are lucky because it's one of those comprehensives formed from a merger of a grammar and secondary modern so it has all the facilities from both.

If we were serious about this schools would use each other's kitchens just like they use each other's swimming pools, it's just not seen as a high priority.

TitaniasCloset Mon 23-Jan-17 17:05:18

My mum died when I was small so I had no one to teach me these skills and just managed through trial and error. Never mind school children, if my local authority offered a good home economics class now I would pay to go.

Birdsgottafly Mon 23-Jan-17 17:08:08

Do schools still do a 'Health/Social/Pastoral' type lesson? I think banking etc should be in that.

I agree that 'Cooking' lessons should be about basic skills and equipment, then how to store, freeze and recook different food groups.

That would mean that they are set up to cook anything.

My eldest DD is buying her first house, as a single person. She's living bill free, but says that she's struggling to save the buying fees.

I've been trying to help, but can't get my head around her unwillingness to cut back and penny count. She tells me that she knows no-one who lives within their means.

She, or her peers certainly weren't brought up to be spendthrifts and all were taught and witnessed their mostly LPs having to budget.

So I don't think there's an answer to modern spending, it's the lifestyle and values, that dictates that.

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