Why We Need To Bring Back Home Economics Classes


(Naomi Lenchner)

By Fiona Matney, Editor-in-Chief

Over the three decades, high schools in America have seen a rapid decline in the offer of a Home Economics course. In fact, only about 6,000 schools in the U.S. still offer Home Economics as a class. Tamalpais High School is not one of those schools, and this is painfully obvious in many scenarios.
Home Economics is a course that was once offered at nearly every high school in America. In the early years of the class, many schools offered the course to only its female students. It was widely recognized at the time that the duty of females was to learn the life skills that were taught in the class in order to be a good wife. Since then, not as many people attempt to hold women to these standards. During the 1960s, the course began to be offered to students of all genders. We started to see the decline of Home Economics.
These classes teach students fundamental life skills that don’t necessarily fit into the category of any traditional math, science, or art class. These skills include essentials like cooking, cleaning, sewing, childcare, and in some cases even tasks that prepare students for adulthood like writing a check. These are important skills for students to learn before entering the world on their own because they help prepare them for their upcoming independence.
In the past, students who have taken Home Economics have been able to learn crucial skills, ones that allow them to adjust comfortably to adulthood when they leave home for the first time, whether that means going to college, starting a career, or starting a family.
In today’s day and age, many graduating students are not equipped with the life skills necessary to maintain a well-functioning home outside of their childhood home with adult aid. This is an especially pressing issue in Marin County. Many people acknowledge the fact that Marin tends to be a hub for overbearing or overly helpful parents. This will lead to 17- and 18-year-old students who are graduating high school and are not prepared for moving out on their own. Some students are aware of this, and others have no idea how ill-prepared they are to start their life beyond high school. Whether the reason for the lack of preparedness is due to their parents’ disregard to teach their children essential life skills, or the fact that parents have taken those duties on themselves, it’s detrimental to both the physical and mental well-being of students.
Another critical factor of this epidemic of ill-prepared young adults is mental health. A fair portion of students doesn’t realize the lack of life skills they have until they are already on their own. The stress and anxiety that can be induced in these cases can have serious negative effects on a person that can last well after the issues are resolved.
“I don’t do my own laundry. My mom does it for me and so I don’t know how well I’d adjust if I had to start doing it now,” Tam junior Kate Rosegard said. This type of situation can present a sizable disadvantage to students that will lead to dysfunctionality and stress in their new residences. If students were to take Home Economics before departing to college or to live on their own, they would be much more likely to succeed in establishing themselves as self-sufficient individuals. They would also be far more capable of keeping their future homes functioning successfully. There is a need to provide the youth with better preparation for entering the world on their own.
In the past, Home Economics classes have been criticized for being patriarchal or encouraging misogynistic stereotypes. This issue does not have to do with Home Economics itself, but more to do with the fact people still see these skills, such as household chores, as a woman’s job. In reality, it is important that everyone, regardless of gender or sex, learn these skills to adequately support themselves for the future. As long as schools make a point to address the fact that the teachings in Home Economics apply to everyone, there should be no issue regarding any misogynistic or patriarchal points.
It’s clear that many students, both here at Tam and across the country, are in dire need of better preparation for adulthood and beyond. Home Economics make a significant change in how prepared students are for entering the world on their own.