Teach your children well

imageMany 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!

10 thoughts on “Teach your children well

  1. Patricia Ellingford (Pattypan)

    Hear hear. I taught my step children to cook and my step-daughter to craft (her brother liked painting). We unusually had a lad in our cooking group right from the first year his ambition to be a Chef and the scrapes he got into and we had to get him out of, but he realised his dream and worked in a well known local expensive hotel and then jacked it all in. I agree wholeheartedly though that there should be basic life skill crafts that are taught to all – not everyone is academic but that does not mean that they do not have something to the table as probably on a practical basis they are probably more skilled than the academic child. I was fortunately taught to cook at school and at home – I had to help mum out every Sunday morning with the baking and the cooking of the Sunday roast. I think every child needs to know how to cook and to feed themselves.



  2. Attila

    I couldn’t agree more (although I could if I’d had children!). My lessons were similar to yours and an old school friend asked me, some years ago, what school subjects had I found most useful in life. When I replied, “Cookery and needlework”, she nearly choked. Apparently, I hated them! I truly love cooking and sewing, lots of different crafts; they have saved my sanity when housebound and saved the budget when things were tight. We are ok financially at the moment but I take great joy and pride in producing food, clothing and household items; saving money is ingrained now and those lessons at school, along with my frugal parents’ teaching and example, gave me the foundation of a solvent and satisfying life.

  3. silversewer09

    Here here, I taught all my children to cook, sew, wash and iron. Boys as well as girls.I well remember my youngest daughter asking for something tinned she needed for her cookery lesson, why what was wrong with cooking from scratch. I made a complaint to the head about it, I felt they were teaching the children to cook with convenience foods and not proper food. Basically I was told to mind my own business, which I was doing I did not want my children taught to open tins,,,,,,,,,

  4. Julia

    Oh I so agree! School should equip youngsters with both job skills and life skills in equal measure. The real world isn’t a choice between one or the other, and I believe the current education system is doing kids a huge disservice with its emphasis on academics and league tables. 🙁

  5. Linda Kay

    Jane, I like the idea of boys taking the economics classes, and the girls taking shop, as I was always curious about what the boys got to do. At least now, the different learning experiences are not so sexist.

  6. fivebeansoup

    Today the cooking classes have been made as academic as possible with next to no actual cooking happening. Was easily a complete waste of time for my daughter’s one year of school. Just one of the many reasons my kids are now home educated with life skills of high priority.

  7. saraband

    My Mum taught my brother and me to sew on buttons when we were five – then went on to teach my children when they were young.

  8. Sue Smith

    When I was at school in the sixties our class wanted to swap over and the boys do cooking and the girls do woodwork but the school wouldn’t hear of it. It would have been nice to get some woodworking skills.


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