Home economics class may not sound like much. Depending on your school’s curriculum, you’d probably learn how to cook, clean, sew and do other household management tasks. You might be surprised to find out you’ll learn some pretty vital life skills, too, including how to look after children, basic first aid and how to manage your money.
Given all of the essential skills you’ll learn in the class, it would seem like the importance of home economics would be clear to everyone. But not everyone can see the advantage of home economics.
Parents, teachers, students and tax payers are all weighing in on the debate about whether home economics should be required. The pros and cons of home economics in schools mostly depend on your perspective, and the role you believe a school should play in raising children.
The Importance of Home Economics
If you’re just signing up for middle school or high school classes, the importance of home economics might not be so clear. Like many things, home economics is something you’ll come to appreciate much more when you’re older. Home economics will teach you many of the skills that can help you become a functioning adult and a thriving part of a community.
If you’re like most people, your parents don’t know everything. The advantage of home economics is that it can fill in those gaps. Most of the things you’ll learn in home economics are things you won’t realize you need until you’re older. Sure, you probably already understand that it’s important to know how to cook, but you may not know how to budget your money or do your taxes, both skills you may learn in the home economics classroom.
The advantage of home economics class is that you can learn all of the things you need to be an adult before you need them. Your friends who don’t have the benefit of a home economics class will have to look up how to do the same skills you take for granted. Or they might end up asking you. Home economics skills will make you pretty useful.
The Pros and Cons of Home Economics in Schools
Despite the obvious advantages of taking a home economics class, there remains some debate on whether you should take home economics or if it should be a required class in school. The pros and cons of home economics in schools outlines the claims made by both sides of the debate.
Those on the pro side believe that teaching home economics in schools will prepare students for the future. Most other classes require students to learn information that they may or may not use in their daily lives, depending on their jobs. Home economics, on the other hand, teaches things that every student will need to know. Many people believe that the younger generations now reaching adulthood lack basic life and survival skills, a problem that requiring home economics would solve.
Those on the con side think that home economics is something that should be taught at home, and that it is not the responsibility of public schools to teach basic life skills. These people believe that students’ time in school is better spent learning things that their parents might not be able to teach them, like higher level science, math, history and literature. Requiring schools to teach life skills puts an unnecessary burden on their resources, and the purpose of schools is not to make up for deficiencies at home.
Why You Need to Learn to Cook
Many people are reaching adulthood now without basic cooking abilities. But lacking this skill can be costly both to your health and your wallet. If you don’t know how to cook, you’ll either have to rely on someone who does it for the rest of your life, thus sacrificing your independence; or you’ll end up going to restaurants or getting take out for most of your meals.
Ordering out every day just isn’t good for you, because it’s difficult to control your portions, so you’ll end up eating a lot more than you might if you made your own food at home. You also don’t know the ingredients that have gone into your meals. So even if you think you’ve ordered something healthy, it could be full of butter and salt, but you would never know it. It’s no surprise then that people who eat takeout or out at restaurants are statistically more likely to become overweight than those who cook their meals at home.
Eating at restaurants or ordering takeout every night can also take a toll on your finances. It can be inexpensive to cook your meals at home, often costing less than $5 or $10 per serving, depending on what you make. But at restaurants, you’re paying for more than just the food. You pay for the chefs, the waitstaff and the management, all for some food items that you can more or less make for yourself.
Why You Need to Learn to Budget Your Money
Home economics classes will also teach you how to manage your money when you’re older. Many classes include units on how to balance a checkbook, create a budget, do your taxes or apply for a loan. It’s a common complaint among young adults that they never learned how to do these things. Personal finance is more complicated than it looks, and so it will make your young adult life much easier if you are prepared to take command of your own finances.
If you don’t know how to manage your money, you might become one of those people who lives paycheck to paycheck, even if your salary is high enough to afford everything you want. Creating a budget is more complicated than making sure you still have money at the end of each month. Budgeting requires thinking ahead and planning for the future, but without someone to teach you how to do it, you might not anticipate many of your upcoming expenses, and money problems will sneak up on you.
While you can pay someone to do your taxes for you, when it comes to applying for loans, you’re pretty much on your own. If you believe you’ll never need a loan, think again. You’ll need to apply for a loan to get a car, a house or to start a business. Learning about loan applications in home economics will help you understand the minutiae with the time comes and prepare you for all the fine print.
Why You Need to Learn How to Manage a Household
It may seem like your parents have it all together, but a lot more goes into helping a household run smoothly than you might think. In addition to paying bills and preparing food, they have to manage schedules for multiple people, fix things that break and anticipate problems in the future.
Without a home economics class, you'll just have to watch them, ask questions and learn by example. Home economics takes the guesswork out of managing a household. A great home economics class will tell you all of the things you need to know before you need to know them.
Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.