This weekend, our church will hold a festival in honor of the day of our patron saint. As part of the celebration, there is a baking contest that the kids are CRAZY excited to join in. Kaitlyn will be making a snickerdoodle apple cobbler, and Danny is making a chocolate-hazelnut-pumpkin bread. (It’s awesome, BTW… simply. awesome.)
I went and looked over some of our old home-ec curriculum, thinking that it would be awesome to revisit. There really are some great things out there. The problem I had was that there were always separate curriculum for boys and girls. Boys are given more of a shop-type feel, and very basic home ec skills. Alternatively, girls were given only the most basic of shop or mechanics skills. I guess I understand the underlying reason in this… but I definitely don’t agree with it.
Home ec is basically the formal teaching of life skills. In generations past (ok, probably quite a few generations past…), it wasn’t needed. Kids learned along side their parents. But, today, formal skill studies are warranted. Some skills are in danger of getting lost, and some old ones are making a resurgence, and need to be passed down.
In light of this, it seems like the way we treat home-ec, especially in the homeschooling world, is to sex-segregate it. The most comprehensive home-ec curricula seemed to be geared for girls. Generally, there is a boy’s “alternative”, but the major skills are combined into a curriculum that is most definitely geared towards girls. Why is this?
Well, I guess I know… the home is the “woman’s” domain… differences in the genders… “biblical” marriage. But, that doesn’t make any sense to me. Should my son be called to the single life by God (which, by the way, St. Paul calls a blessing…), should he never be able to cook more for himself than scrambled eggs and pancakes? Should he not be able to garden, and preserve the fruits of his labor? What if his wife dies, or becomes ill? Should he have the skills to not only repair, but create clothes for his children, if needed?
In the same way, shouldn’t girls need more mechanical experience than changing the oil and a tire? I know when I was an army wife, with my husband deployed, I could have used information on how to change brakes, diagnose a car, change an alternator and belts, lawnmower repair, and more than the most basics of home repair. If, heaven forbid, my husband hadn’t come home, I would’ve needed a lot more than that. Skills in carpentry and metalwork can provide not only an amazing income, but a creative outlet for women as well as men. Why shouldn’t these things be taught?
If a home-ec curriculum is severely slanted towards one gender, the other is less likely to want to learn those skills. They become “girly” or “boy-ish”. To children, especially children in the midst of changes, who are working to identify their place in the world, this is a huge deal. Unfortunately, I see this a lot in what would otherwise be really wonderful, Christian, home-ec curriculum. My boys turn off to it, because it’s too girly. My daughter turns off to the “boy version”, which is more shop and automotive work, because it’s boy-ish. If the kids were allowed to follow their inclinations, they wouldn’t learn these skills. (They’re not, by the way.) Life skills that they need.
I would love to find a gender-neutral home ec/life skills curriculum, that was comprehensive, deep, and we could all use TOGETHER. I’m not great at piecing together curriculum, mostly because my home ec skills are so bad anyway. I need as much help as the kids do! (OK, not quite, but close!) Am I the only one who wants that? I don’t think I am…
Do you have a home ec curriculum that you just love? I’d love to hear about it! Please leave me a comment and tell me which one!