Many moons ago, when I was at secondary school, one of my favourite subjects was Home Economics. It seems stunningly sexist now, but then the girls did this and the boys did woodwork and metalwork. It never occurred to me at the time that there was anything wrong with this! It was just the way of the world.
Home economics consisted of needlework for half of the time and cookery for the other. I learned to make a skirt from scratch consisting of 4 gaberdine panels with a proper waistband and a zip. I enjoyed it so much that I made several more at home. I can’t remember what my other creations were, but the fact is that everyone in the class learned basic sewing skills. Even if we didn’t want to be a professional seamstress we could run up a paid of curtains, sew up a hem and do small repairs.
We made lovely meals and cakes from scratch. To this day, I remember my intense pride when the teacher showed my mince pies off as the way they should be done and awarded me 10 out of 10. It was like the Great British Bakeoff!
So I learned to cook. This held me in good stead when I left home and has done so ever since. It would have been great to learn woodwork and metalwork too!!
In these more enlightened times boys and girls theoretically get the chance to do all these things, although I think they are called Food Technology, Textiles and CDT. However from my own experience of having children, they seem to get a mere taster of each. My daughters had to do the prep for their dishes at home, which usually meant a last minute panic stricken chopping of onions and peppers with my assistance on the morning of their lesson which they would assemble in class and eat on the way home! They made small wooden boxes from pre cut wood. I don’t recall them doing any sewing apart from a few embroidered squares at primary school.
None of them seemed to take much of this in and what they learned about cooking has come from me. If they can see on a button it’s because I showed them!
It seems a shame and a missed opportunity. In my view all kids should learn to cook from scratch and make a basic garment or two. It would be great for them to learn how to use a drill and put up a shelf too!
So let’s get back to teaching these incredibly important life skills properly in the classroom and at home, especially cookery. If kids can cook they will be more interested in what goes into their food, hopefully avoid eating too many convenience foods, learn the true cost of what they eat and how to budget, and we would all be the healthier for it.
By the way, the cake was made by my ten year old neice , inspired by the Bakeoff and some books I got her for Christmas. Go girl!