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Home Economics: Why you should care?

October 18, 2017

Trying to shuffle between academics, work and health, we are in that phase of the semester where everything seems to be falling apart. With deadlines round the corner, sleep and fitness is often the least of our concerns. Instead of cooking healthy at home, McDonalds always appears as an easier option; and before we know it, our budget is exceeded.

Now, imagine if the solution to our rampantly increasing problems at college, lay in the modification of our high school curriculum? What if our schools taught us the hacks to save money and the way to cook healthy? After all, weren’t schools invented to arm the kids with the tools to lead a healthier life.

By introducing Home Economics classes, high schools can aim to achieve their true purpose.

This subject takes the first step toward resolving issues at the root by teaching children the basics of nutrition, budgeting and home management, making the study of Home Economics absolute necessary for high school students.

Jennifer Grossman, founder of Dole Nutrition Institute and a health editor and advisor, in her article Food for Thought (and for Credit) writes that to return to a healthy lifestyle – uprooted by the fast food culture and fast paced individualistic lives – one needs to reintroduce Home Economics to students.

The idea behind it is to teach teenagers the balance between work, responsibilities and personal health. Grossman highlights the flaws in American eating habits, blaming McDonalds and other fast food brands for coating our meals with unhealthiness.

Easy access to genetically modified food that contains “cheap sweeteners and hydrogenated oils necessary for food to survive indefinitely on store shelves” (Grossman) has done immense harm to the people.

According to a simulation model designed and studied by Y Claire Wang, member of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University, the United States will have 65 million more obese adults by 2030. “Consequently accruing [to] an additional 6–8.5 million cases of diabetes, 5.7–7.3 million cases of heart disease and stroke, 492 000–669 000 additional cases of cancer, and 26–55 million quality-adjusted life years forgone for USA” (Wang).

These facts underscore the urgency for Americans to adopt healthier food habits that include eating freshly cooked, non-preservative food. According to David Ludwig, an American physician “about 35 percent of adolescents are [presently] overweight.”

The truth is, obesity exists not only because of the lack of nutrition, but also because of the lack of knowledge about nutrition.

Home Economics, through a combination of pragmatic and detailed instruction, aims to aware individuals about nutrition and transform meals into a balanced diet constituting adequate nutrients. As people move into their independent lives soon after high school, it is important for each individual to know the essentials of a healthy life.

The biggest problem of living by yourself is but a fundamental economic problem of scarce resources and unlimited wants. Financial illiteracy – the inability  to manage personal finance matters in an efficient manner, including the knowledge of making appropriate decisions about personal finance – becomes the another concern after health.

Toiling between part time jobs simultaneously, struggling to complete degree and maintaining a social life, often feel themselves bound by expenditure restraints and blinded to the nitty-gritty of operating the banking system.

A recently finished survey by the Fortune group in October 2015, revealed that about two thirds of Americans can’t calculate interest payments correctly.

Home Economics – as the word explains – teaches daily life accounting and economics to students. It introduces them to the concept of “opportunity cost” through which they learn to make trade-offs between existing choices.

Basic accounting lessons like banking processes and managing records makes them aware of their financial policies and how to act upon them. It educates young adults on how to manage education loans and pay off credit card bills in time. Home Ec is an introduction into the real life application of theory, a step you take away from chaos and toward discipline.

Home Economics sows the seed of an organised, balanced and healthy individual future. Beyond just teaching one how to cook and financially stabilise themselves, it serves to introduce discipline in our everyday lives.

John Naisbitt, who writes about of future studies, concludes from National Science Foundation reports, SAT scores and dropout studies that “The generation graduating from high school today is the first generation in American history to graduate less skilled than its parents.”

Meaning the young adults today are lesser equipped to handle life challenges that come their way. Home Ec targets this problem area and teaches the necessary life skills and a sense of responsibility.

Some might feel that Home Economics deepens the intensity of gender stereotypes, however, the truth is quite the opposite. Home Economics levels the playing field by inculcating basic skills in each individual – both male and female – and preparing them for life. Therefore, Home Ec is not “Wife-Ed.”

Considering the time crunch in students’ lives, Home Economics can be seamlessly integrated into the curriculum without an extra hour being devoted for it. For instance, problem solving skills can be woven into different subjects like mathematics and economics. Leadership skills and management tactics can be enforced during community service, while nutrition lessons can be integrated with biology labs.

The incorporation of Home Economics as a mandatory course in high school curriculum can ensure that every child graduates with a basic skill set, regardless of his/her upbringing.

We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge, our minds are oozing with huge amounts of information – necessary and unnecessary – but our implementation skills are almost nil.     As a generation, we are unable to link the pieces together, lack the skills to instantly deal with crisis and fail to analyse the bigger picture. Home Economics can come to our rescue and bridge the gap in our learning.

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