Home Economics: Outdated and irrelevant or more important than ever?

27.11.15

I remember as a young girl finding and reading through my mother’s seventies issued Home Economics text book. I giggled at the thought of needing to know how to fold a napkin into an elaborate swan design. I contemplated when I might ever need to know how to starch a collar or to bake the perfect Bombe Alaska. I read about how to sew on a button, how to hem a skirt, and the key things to remember when attempting to make the perfect batch of lemonade scones.  Most of all though, I remember reeling in horror at the hints and tips about how women should strive to keep a perfect home and about the importance and privilege of keeping one’s husband happy!  It is no wonder that with a history such as this, the subject of Home Economics is often considered a relic; a gender stereotyped course that has arguably become irrelevant in modern society.

Thankfully the Home Economics of today is far, far removed from the curriculum of old. It is no longer about tapioca pudding and sewing an apron, but much more about macarons, superfoods, latte art, constructing hoodies and maxi skirts, and most of all about gaining essential skills that will benefit our girls in their everyday lives and into their futures.

In an age where obesity is of increasing concern, Home Economics gives students the skills and confidence to plan, purchase and prepare simple and nutritious meals. It places an emphasis on ‘real foods’ rather than the pre-packaged convenience meals and fast foods that have become so commonplace. It is a delight and a privilege to witness the pride on the faces of students who have had little or no cooking experience as they successfully complete a croquembouche or dig into a plate of fresh pasta made from scratch. These skills and the knowledge obtained is not only relevant to their present lives, but will be constantly of use as they continue to grow and will prove valuable throughout their lifespan.  

One area of Home Economics that I consider to be perhaps amongst the most beneficial is the emphasis that it places on interpersonal skills and personal development. Students gain practical skills such as the ability to make decisions, to communicate effectively and to work both independently and as part of a team. These are all skills that are deemed critical for success in future employment. In addition to these skills, Home Economics too can provide the doorway to so many diverse and exciting careers. Career opportunities can include community health organisations, nutrition and dietetics, the food industry, hospitality and tourism, family and social work organisations and education and child care to name but a few. The service industry is an area of employment growth within Australia. It is therefore important that students become aware of the potential career paths available, and if of interest, they may begin to consider an occupation in a related area.

I strongly believe that Home Economics holds an extremely important place in our educational system today as it incorporates so many core life skills that will enable students to succeed, in whatever career path they choose. Here at Mary MacKillop College, the Home Economics faculty strives to provide a curriculum that is modern, relevant, engaging, practical and enjoyable. A curriculum that will provide girls with skills, abilities and knowledge that hopefully they will carry with them into their future lives, guiding them to become confident, self-efficient and healthy young adults. What could be more relevant than that?
 

Nadia Witton
Home Economics Teacher

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Comments

Hi. Well said. I teach Home Economics at Nuriootpa High School in South Australia. As one of the few males teaching the subject, it's very satisfying to see the boys getting a lot out of the subject as well. I love teaching Health/Home Ec. and the students benefit by learning the skills they will need to survive and live long and happy lives.
Posted By: Stuart Jones on Sunday, November 29, 2015 8:54pm