It was a mistake to take home economics out of the curriculum at so many high schools, says Wally, a retired teacher who has an ongoing interest in education. He taught high school for many years and still misses his students.
At a Walmart recently there was an incident Wally can’t forget. It pained him deeply because it made him think about the quality of high school education today. He’s not convinced it is what it should be at many schools.
He was standing near the dairy case when a young man, not long out of high school, held up a package of margarine and asked Wally if it was butter. Wally at first thought he was kidding but then said it wasn’t butter, that it was margarine.
The young man wanted to know the difference between butter and margarine. Wally told him butter comes from cows and margarine has a vegetable base. The young man turned to his two friends and said, “I’m glad we asked.” They smiled, thanked Wally and headed for the register, margarine in hand.
A week later Wally was at a local charity making a donation and was told the charity had quit giving baskets of food at Christmas after learning several clients had tried to pan fry a turkey. Now they give gift certificates instead.
At the charity Wally also learned that many young people today don’t know how to cook vegetables or fry bacon and eggs. And more than a few have no idea about budgeting or nutrition.
Wally thinks this reflects poorly on secondary education today. When he taught high school, home economics was taught and students who didn’t learn the basics from their parents at home could learn them at school in home economics, even though it was not a required course. Now he thinks it should be, at least for the many who seem to need it.
He says young people today know a lot about cell phones and computers but sadly some of them don’t know the difference between butter and margarine or how to cook a turkey.
A semester of home economics, he says, might help change that. He wonders if a lot of Advanced Placement courses are that important if young people can't fix themselves something to eat. Sandwiches and fast food, he agrees, do not a good diet make.