More and more, I’m hearing people decry the deplorable state of education today. Between the woes of the “snowflake generation” and the demands of the social justice warriors, schools and universities have become little more than breeding grounds for the latest progressive trends.
Amidst all the turmoil of the last 30 years, something very critical has quietly disappeared from school curriculum: Home economics and shop classes.
I began to realize the dearth of kitchen skills after I heard about something called “meal kits.” Apparently, these are packaged meals delivered to a home that contains everything needed to prepare a delicious dinner, complete with pre-measured ingredients and colorful step-by-step recipe cards.
These meal kits are growing in popularity because many people don’t have the foggiest notion of how to do the most elemental things in a kitchen. They’ve never been taught. They didn’t grow up with it. Feminists planted the notion that kitchen labors were “beneath” anyone (especially women), and prepackaged foods were a fine and liberating thing.
Yet while it might be a matter of pride for feminists to be utterly unfamiliar with the workings of their own stove, the inescapable fact is everyone needs to eat. Those who are ignorant on how to feed themselves must therefore pay for others to feed them; hence the growth of meal kits.
Home economics was booted from high school (along with wood, metal and auto shop) when the progressives decided it was more important to indoctrinate kids into the liberal agenda rather than educating them in anything useful or important. Thus students were never taught sewing, household management, tuning a car, budgeting, balancing a checkbook, thrifty shopping (how many young shoppers know how to compare per-unit prices, for example?), sawing wood, welding a metal seam and endless other skills far more useful than texting.
Consider the comic showing a woman sitting on a sidewalk with a beggar’s cup in front of her and a bicycle with a flat tire behind her. The caption reads, “I got a bachelor’s in art history, an M.A in modern culture and a Ph.D. in Cubism. One day on the way to my house, my bike got a flat tire. I have no idea how to fix it. … It’s been two years now.”
Yet in what appears to be a backlash against the trashing of domesticity, books and articles are emerging on why the domestic arts aren’t so bad after all. In a feminist treatise entitled “Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture,” the author bends into pretzel shapes to assure readers that no, domesticity does not equal inferiority, drudgery, a trap, or endless other negative pejoratives promoted by feminists for the last four decades. (And that’s the trouble, you see. It never was. Home was never the hopeless trap the poor, sick, demented feminists saw it to be … except in their own disturbed minds.)
Beyond the fretful apologies for the heresy of suggesting homemaking has its place, and looking beyond the constant calls for social justice and saving the earth, the author of “Radical Homemakers” reaches the inescapable conclusion happy women have known forever: Creating a domestic haven is not the sterile, soulless exercise in futility feminists have portrayed it to be. Rather, making a home is creative, restful, fun and rewarding for everyone in the family.
Yet our schools still reflect the disturbed rantings of feminists who were ashamed to cultivate domestic skills. As a result, two and three generations of women have grown up brainwashed to think anything associated with home, hearth, children, or marriage was antithetical to a happy, satisfying life. Two and three generations of boys have grown up feeling useless because they’re not expected to provide for a family, much less fix or mend anything.
And, since anything domestic must by definition be discarded, there are millions upon millions of people my generation (I’m 54) and younger who barely know their way around a kitchen, sewing machine, or vacuum cleaner. And when they DO perform these tasks, they view them as drudgery and a trap, something to endure so they can return to their more important work of writing briefs, balancing accounts, or nailing that important stock market deal.
As such, they miss out on creating a beautiful haven against a wide busy cruel world. But a house is just four sterile gray walls unless someone takes the effort to transform it into the lovely peaceful cocoon it was meant to be.
The cautious embracing of domesticity still causes heartburn among ardent feminists. While many younger women find themselves enjoying skills of an earlier age, such as knitting and canning and sewing, at the same time they fret lest women should come to relish domesticity too much. (The only way to embrace the domestic arts without shame is to dress it up in appropriate earth-friendly terms, such as “empowering” and “resistance to industrial food and its environment-defiling way.”)
But this trend of “radical homemaking” is merely reflecting a solution to a growing problem: People, especially young people, are tired of being useless. They don’t like the feeling of helplessness that comes from dealing with a kitchen stove or a sewing machine or a toolbox. They’re realizing that maybe, just maybe, practical skills have their place.
For too long, manual labor and domestic skills alike have been dismissed with contempt as unworthy of anyone except the dim, the uneducated, the deplorable and those who lack the ambition to do anything better – in short, the lower classes. Even raising one’s own children was unworthy. It didn’t matter how many high-powered female executives left their careers to rediscover the joys of home; they were simply dismissed as traitors to the progressive, feminist cause.
After decades of extreme dependency on others to provide us with our most basic needs, people are learning dependency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Such dependency leaves us vulnerable and ignorant for coping with hard times. Therefore people are struggling to recapture skills that have been virtually lost. While I may chuckle at these “meal kits” taking off in popularity, at least people are learning the basics of cooking – and maybe next time they won’t need a kit.
That’s why I think schools should return to teaching home economics and shop.
Look, it’s about time our schools taught something useful. They’ve fallen down on academics (math, English, history, etc.), so let’s teach students practical skills. That way they’ll at least learn something they can take into their adult lives besides safe rooms and victimology.
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