Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's in a Name?

When I was a middle-schooler, the male/female career path in the U.S. was less flexible than it is now. There were mandatory classes for girls and boys that were different. We all took English, Math, and History, but the girls took Home Ec(onomics) and the boys took Shop.

Louisiana not being a bastion of equal rights, nor of anybody's liberation in particular, that's how it was in the early 1960s; however ...

There was a class that boys had to take either in the eighth or ninth grade. For the life of me, I can't recall the exact name, but it was something designed not to be off-putting to young men, Consumer Science or somesuch. Whatever the name, it was flat-out home ec -- the skills taught were how to iron a shirt, sew on a button, balance a checkbook, and basic cooking -- as I recall, we cooked two things: a hamburger, and fudge, which, when you think about it, was one more thing a young man in those days needed to know how to cook ...

Few boys in my day would have volunteered for such a course, given an option. Home-making was for women, and if you needed any of that stuff, that's what mothers and sisters were for, and what your wife would do once you left home and got hitched. Yeah, you might roast something over an open fire if you'd shot it, but cooking? In a kitchen? Sewing on buttons? Ironing a shirt? Geez Louise! Sissy stuff!

Of what I learned in junior high, that class was as useful as any, and more than most. In Shop, I learned not to put my fingers into the saw blade, how to make a ring out of  a Monel nut, and how to polish plexiglass. I have ironed more shirts, sewed on more buttons, and cooked way more hamburgers over the years, and even though my wife is better at all these things, I can, in a pinch, manage.

I think maybe a lot of what passes for education in today's schools might be tweaked and tuned toward the end of practicality thus, and earlier than senior year, too.

1 comment:

Joshkie said...

This reminds me of something that happend when I was in the Navy (Never Again Volunteer Yourselfe).
I lived with my Nanni (Grandmother) for awhile (early 80's), and she tought me to sew, iron, cook, bake and I had to do my own laundry.
In the Navy if you wanted clean civys, none uniform clothing, you had to do it your self. I was getting a load ready when a NUB (None Usful Body) or to be PC new guy asked me if he could join me. So, when we get there I start loading the machines and I look over and he's just stairing at a machine with a blank look. So I go, "You've never done you own luandge before, have you?" He tells me, "No my mother always did it."
Moral of the story: not just the education system can fail to teach basic life skills.