Remember when students used to be able to take classes that they enjoyed, instead of taking classes because they “look good” to college admissions officers? Remember when schools offered home econ classes where you learned how to cook and sew? Somewhere over the past 50 years, schools have stopped offering courses that all students need to lead healthy, productive lives today.
I learned how to make Potato Boats in 7th grade Home Ec. It was simple: It’s just a baked potato that is gutted and mixed with butter, chives and chunks of cheese, and then baked again. Today it’s always a hit at dinner parties. A real foodie, I love to whip up dishes using Indian spices and create healthy, yet delicious meals.
Maybe because it’s so easy to grab a burger or take-out food, that we don’t cook at home anymore. Or, is it because we’re so busy that we can’t justify the time it takes to shop, cook and clean. But then, we put our nutrition in the hands of corporations who are more interested in bigger profits than our good health. So we’re eating foods that aren’t even real foods. When fast food chains claim that their burgers are “All Beef,” they actually can have meat from hundreds of animals including horse meat and chemical fillers. So let’s get back to feeding our children good home cooked meals and get them in the kitchen to help!
I also learned how to sew in a sewing class in 8th grade. My teacher showed me how to make my own patterns, sew zippers, and create just about anything with a sewing machine and a good pair of scissors. While my girls were into dance and theater, I made 6 tuxedos, 8 lederhosen, and 100s of costumes. I even won a costume award for one of Jaclyn’s dance competition costumes. But more importantly, it was fun as I designed and showed my girls how to create something out of a bolt of fabric. They both took sewing classes at Merit Academy during the summer and made dresses. Just yesterday, I sewed cushions and a custom cover for my dogs’ crates. Both cooking and sewing are skills that I am so grateful to have.
It used to be that sewing clothes was less expensive than buying them, but when you can buy clothes made in 3rd-world factories by slave labor, it’s cheaper and easier to just shop at Target or Ross. Do a little research about where your clothing is produced and who is doing the sewing, and I’ll bet you’ll reconsider where you buy your clothes. You might even start sewing simple outfits like skirts, shirts, and dresses.
Instead of indulging our children’s every wish for new electronic devices every time something new hits the market, buy them a sewing machine. It’ll probably last them their whole lives and it’ll give them the ability to hem pants, bring clothes in or let them out, and make fun things like pillows. With just one sewing class, you can open the door to more independence and creativity. And, they’ll have a skill that their peers don’t have. I’m surprised that so many people don’t know how to sew today. It’s really a lost art.
Rather than force students to study US History for years or to take biology, chemistry, and physics when they might not be interested in STEM, let’s give students the opportunity to learn skills that they’ll need when they grow up. EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO COOK AND SEW.