I really think children should be able to cook some basic recipes by the time they leave school. I think there should be three things they can cook and they should be tested on them so we have some hope of producing a generation which doesn't rely on junk food. But how would you decide what these should be? These suggestions of mine are based round my own children's needs (they need high energy food at the moment: they're 10 and 12 and do a fair bit of sport).
Macaroni cheese SHepherd's pie Apple crumble Spaghetti bolognese Roast chicken Sponge cake Basic tomato sauce for pasta Jacket potato with tuna mayonnaise Roast potatoes A simple vegetable curry Chicken or fish fillet in homemade breadcrumbs
I don't agree that schools should be teaching cooking. And I'll tell you why: the equipment necessary for teaching cooking is expensive and fragile, and I would rather resources were spent on things that children cannot do easily at home.
I do, however, think that we should be teaching children about nutrition and catering in the classroom.
I was on the academic fast-track at school and spent any free time doing extra reading for my Oxbridge exams. But I know I could have learned something from just one lesson a week in the home economics lab. My mother was a good cook but she worked full-time so there wasn't an awful lot of time in the evenings for her to do more than teach me the basics: useful, but not extensive.
I very much doubt I could have learned anything at all from a "home economics" lesson! And I am not alone.
I think that lessons that make children think about things like good nutrition, good personal hygiene, keeping yourself safe, keeping your home and finances in good order etc are much more interesting and useful than being taught to make macaroni cheese.
DD1 started home economics - or food tech as it is now called - this year at secondary school. She is 11. The first thing they made was fruit salad. They have since made pizza with a scone-dough base (disgusting) scones with 'imaginative' flavours (beyond disgusting) and a very simple pasta and tomato sauce. Oh, yes, and a fairly adequate fruit crumble. It was a complete waste of time.My six year old can manage all that, and more.
I think that being able to interpret washing labels is an invaluable skill and, since they are universal, quite appropriate to teach in school, but why not in a chemistry lesson, in year 7? I got taught to wire a plug in a physics lesson, very early on in my secondary school career.
Relating science to real, useful, everyday skills brings it alive and makes children understand its relevance to them.
I left school without being able to cook much but had a Damascene moment concerning a tin (the horror) of macaroni cheese and promptly phoned my Mum for a recipe. Her maxim has always been "if you can read, you can cook".
I learnt loads in HE (in the mid 80s). I think it can be very useful if taught properly.
We did a recipe a week and while it was cooking we did a mini science lesson eg when we made apple crumble, we experimented putting different things on apple to slow the browning. We had to write it up with aim, method, results, conclusions etc like in chemistry or physics. We also did a lot of nutrition.
The food I made was always a success at home although that might be more to do with having hungry teenage brothers!