Written by Jay Deagon PhD
Home Economics Lecturer, CQUniversity
IFHE Member, Asia Pacific Region



IFHE Asia Pacific Members

This is my story about a recent trip to Daejeon, South Korea, to attend the XXII International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) World Congress 2016, Daejeon Convention Centre (Sunday July 31 to Saturday August 6, 2016). The conference theme “Hope and Happiness: the role of Home Economics in the pursuit of Hope & Happiness for individuals and communities now and in the future”. I loved this theme – it aligns perfectly with my personal, professional and research interests.

Arriving in Korea
dsc_0014My first impression of South Korea was… wow… this is hot! I am from South-East Queensland, Australia, where in summer we experience 35 degree heat quite frequently, but the humidity in Korea was something else. I had just come from a 10 degree winter in Brisbane. Heat haze now clouded the view and sweat poured down my neck.

After finding out I had just missed a train, I made my way to the bus terminal to find a bus to Daejeon. I thought, simple, buy a ticket, get on a bus. Alas no. My bus was not scheduled until 5.40pm. Travel tip – when you buy a train or bus ticket in South Korea, you buy an allocated seat – you don’t just jump on a bus.

Friendly people

The next thing that struck me was how extremely friendly and helpful the Korean people are. After being forcibly removed from 3 busses with several curt “next one, next one” from the bus drivers, two lovely humans asked if I was ok. I was obviously hot and flustered at this stage. It was one of these lovely smart humans who asked where I was from and looked at my watch – my watch said 6pm – “see” I said, “I have missed my bus”. Rooky mistake! The gentleman realised that my watch was still on Australian time. He helped me fix my watch. I still had 30 minutes to wait.

Ahhh, blessed air-conditioning. Finally, riding on the bus, I could sit back and survey the landscape. I have experienced Asian drivers before (Hong Kong and Bangkok), I was not surprised at the speed and swerving; however, going through the bridge tolls at 100 kilometres an hour where the sign said 10 klms made me giggle nervously to myself.

Food growing everywhere

dsc_0248-3Along the road I saw that every spare space from Incheon Airport to Daejeon, even between the high-rise apparent blocks, was dedicated to growing food – rice, corn, grapes, green leafy vegetables, and cows. Shade cloth domes and open vegetable patches, together with dilapidated 20ft shipping container homes, were dotted every few kilometres. I couldn’t help reflect how lucky I am to live in a developed country. During the 3 hour journey, I think I fell asleep. All of a sudden, bright flashing lights pierced my eye balls from behind closed lids. Daejeon, I had arrived. Alighting the bus, I asked my driver where to catch a taxi. He pointed to a door. I went through that door. I was completely, disorientated. Saturday night in Daejeon was totally pumping! It was 8.40pm. Buses are very punctual apparently.

My special taxi ride

dsc_0257I rummaged in my bag to locate my hotel reservation form because I knew it was written in Korean. I stood in the taxi line. I jumped in a cab and handed over my hotel reservation. My taxi driver said “no, no, out”. I got out of the taxi with a bewildered look on my face. Again, wonderful Koreans came to my rescue. I obviously looked like an intruder – only person with lily white skin, blonde hair and suitcases in the whole street. The passenger in the taxi behind me put his window down, asked if I was ok and where I was going. I handed him my hotel reservation form which he duly gave to his taxi driver. He then opened his door, got out, put my suitcase in the boot of his taxi, and said “have a good stay in Daejeon”. My hero!

My new taxi driver could speak English. He was also wonderful – he knew where the ICC Hotel was. On our way, he made sure that I knew that the American Basketballer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was Korean – in my brain I’m thinking ummmm Abdlu-Jabbar is American? But I let him have that one. He also told me that many Koreans play for the American Major League in Baseball. We chatted and then he realised that I was not American. I was Australian. This changed everything. “Oh, kangaroos, do you eat them?” Yes – but not often. He said that it was very distressing that Australian people didn’t treat their Indigenous people very well. He was obviously right up there with Aboriginal and Torrs Straight Islander news! He also said something about our Prime Minister along the lines of dsc_0160-3Tony Abbot and stupid. I didn’t argue. I told him that I lived in a special place where koalas lived in my trees. It was my responsibility to look after the wildlife near my home. He was very impressed. I just happened to have some eucalyptus lollies in my handbag. I offered him one – so he could taste what Koalas eat. He accepted my offer and went very silent. I said he could throw it out if he didn’t like it. Quite the opposite apparently, he really enjoy the taste of koala food. 20 minutes later, we arrive at the ICC Hotel. He gets out of the taxi, gets my bags out, opens my door and asks me to stay in Korea more often because I see beauty in everything and that I was a truly beautiful person. I felt rather humbled and blessed and hit by the sound of cicadas!!

The ICC Hotel

dsc_0020-3I checked into my hotel. My room looked like the builders had finished it the day before. I spied a personal propelling harness and window breaker next to my bed. This didn’t instil much confidence in my new home. At least I only had to propel myself out the window and down three floors. I pitied the people in the Lotte Hotel next to me, in case of fire, they had 20 floors to drop down. I tried to put thoughts of a fiery death from my mind. I was hungry. I went for a walk. The streets were now deserted. It was still HOT and HUMID and 10:00pm! What to eat? I went for a walk and found a…… STARBUCKS. I wasn’t expecting that. Passionfruit and mango smoothie and a cheesy bagel for dinner it was. So much for my promise to my sister that I would eat exotic Korean food at every opportunity. Ooops. Sorry Sis. Exhausted from a long flight, 5 hour stopover in Changi Airport, another long flight, a long bus trip, I slept like log for the next 12 hours.

Catching-up with the Aussies

dsc_0102-3Breakfast – I hear Australian voices and I see faces from all over the world gathered in the hotel restaurant!! Yay! I have arrived. Greeted by my friends Andrew McVittie (Gold Coast) and Tony Worsley (Melbourne) I had breakfast in good company. IFHE Conference has begun. BUT first thing first, I asked Andrew “where can I get a good coffee that isn’t Starbucks?” The Goat Head became my daily coffee stop before heading off to conference. Excellent coffee, excellent staff.

photo10My first moments at conference was about registration. Quick, easy, paid for and painless. I also registered for the Welcome Dinner, a technical tour and the home visit. I didn’t actually know what any of these things were, I just had spare money, so I booked and paid for them. I also picked up a little gem called “Guide to Korean Cuisine” that I thought might come in handy. In my registration bag, I was given hard copies of the Abstract Book and the Program Schedule. What to do and see first?

Exploring Daejeon – also known as “Heatwave Sunday”

dsc_0015-3Sunday– Andrew McV and I decided that since we were not involved with IFHE Executive Committee Meetings or Program Committee Meetings, we would go exploring Daejeon. Into a cab to the KTX Train Station we went. Andy’s mobile phone went off with a very loud siren. We ignored it because the message he received was in Korean. That was a mistake. Walking our way down the street, we saw a pet shop with birds in cages on the footpath, I said jokingly “canaries, if they are still alive, the air quality must still be ok”. I found a global ATM so that I had money for a bottle of water. We found an 1909 elementary school museum (which was closed) with pots of growing herbs, fruits and vegetables. We ate a gooseberry each – it was so bitter – I had to spit it out. Andy and I walked down some other random street until I realised that I couldn’t walk anymore. It was too hot and I couldn’t breathe. We hailed a taxi and headed off to the Science Museum.

The science museum was built in 1993 as part of the Expo Science Park. Where once a state of the art expo precinct with monorail, international zone, corporate zone and fun park zone. The name of the World Expo was “The Challenge of a New Road of Development”; unfortunately, the whole area is now in disrepair. The monorail track is falling apart and building have been abandoned or knocked down. So sad. We also realised that Daejeon was not built to receive English speaking visitors. We had a very tricky time interpreting signage. Most of the places in the Science Museum were closed – it was Sunday.

dsc_0035So where do you head on a really hot day in Daejeon? To the kids water park? Yes. To the indoor atrium? Yes. We visited the atrium, where it is nice and humid so that exotic plants and animals could live comfortably. We were reminded that it does also snow in Daejeon. In summer though, luckily the atrium had air-conditioning! We saw all manner of native Korean and imported fish, frogs, beetles, snakes, orchids, figs and plant life. It was time to head back to the hotel for lunch. It was 1:30pm. Right in the middle of the day. We later found out that the siren alert Andy had received on his phone was…. a heat wave warning. I wish I had known earlier. We walked passed a pool installation with about 200 hundred locals and not a single person was swimming. Everyone was sitting very quietly in the shade. Very little noise. No play. Just hot people too hot to swim. That is a heatwave day. Andy and I walked 6.5 kilometres, without water, without shade, in jeans, on asphalt… silly silly silly. My parents had taught me better than that. It was by sheer force of will that we made it back to the hotel without me crying and/or passing out. Shower, lunch, sleep, time for dinner! Back to the Goats Head for ham and cheese Paninis and beer. Beauty!

Friends for Life

dsc_0405-3Day 2. Conor Fennel, my Irish Home Economics friend, who had fallen in love with Australia and stayed, was at breakfast. I was so excited to see him. I had met Conor 4 years ago at the IFHE World Congress in Melbourne. We were instant friends then and still are now. We share a love of Home Economics. You know when you make a good friend, you meet years later and it feels like no time has passed at all. He is one of those friends. The only thing different was that Conor was taller, or I had shrunk. Let’s stick with Conor being taller. I listened to Conor talk about his Home Economics work with Indigenous kids in a very remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. Many Home Economists are passionate and service-oriented people. Home Economists make positive differences and Conor is a shining light of hope and happiness in the world.

Conference Time!

1470017290866Time for the real conference to begin. I sat in as an observer in the IFHE Council Meeting. I listened to annual reports being delivered from the many various sub-committees. I heard
about profits, losses, and staff changes in the IFHE head office in Bonn, Germany. I learnt about United Nations initiatives that the IFHE had been involved in, and read some of the draft IFHE Position Statements on UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The IFHE has special consultative status with the UN and it is good to know that we make a positive impact. I’m proud to be a member of such an auspicious organisation. As an observer, I witnessed a significant moment where after a brief discussion by Donna Pendergast about our official home economics publication, a motion was proposed and carried that the International Journal of Home Economics (IJHE), of which I am on the Editorial Board, become an open access journal. This is significant because IFHE members have now agreed to open our Journal for knowledge sharing beyond our profession. The researcher in me is very excited by this development. Open access to the journal provides a wider reading audience. Another exciting announcement was commencement of the International Certified Professional Home Economist (IPHE) accreditation. This was extremely well received news and I look forward to putting in my application as soon as pilot testing complete. Finally, it was announced that the next IFHE World Congress will be held in Georgia, Atlanta, United States.

At a concurrent session to the Executive Committee meeting, the Pre-Congress Conference was held. Keynote Plenary speakers updated delegates on the current status and future directions of Home Economics curriculum in Finland, Australia, Japan and Korea. Much to the delight (horror) of audience members, Donna Pendergast also spoke about all things Australian, including our deadly spiders and snakes.

Halls, walls and tables


My luck bag

Throughout the entire Congress, hundreds of poster displays were available for delegates to peruse and gain insight into some fascinating and poignant research projects currently underway in Korean and around the world. In the halls, on the walls, in rooms and open spaces, the Daejeon Conference Centre (DCC) was transformed into a Home Economists dream – filled to the brim with pre-school, primary, secondary and university student displays, local textiles, food, equipment, Korean culture and customs. A big hit with the international delegates was an opportunity to be dressed in a Hanbok – traditional Korean clothing and have their photo taken. Delegates were given many gifts, including Lucky Bags filled with cookies, fans, and hand-drawn badges made by local primary school students. It was obvious that the Korean teachers were very proud of their students. Delegates were also encouraged to taste test food and drink from a wide variety of Korean companies including coffee, teas and alcoholic beverages. I particularly liked the banana sake.

Korean Volunteers 

dsc_0127-3I would like to give an honourable mention to all the volunteers at the DCC. They made the conference run so smoothly. Everyone was pleasant and helpful. To the Organising Committee, you should be very proud of every single one of your volunteers. They did an amazing job.

Welcome Dinner

dsc_0231Wow, Daejeon knows how to put on a party and welcome international guests! Congratulations to the Organising Committee. Many dignitaries and honoured guests were present at the Welcome Dinner including Carol Warren, IFHE President (2012-2016), Mee Sok Park, IFHE Vice President (2014-2018) and Chairperson of the IFHE 2016 Organising Committee, The Honourable Eun-hee Kang, Korean Minister for Gender Equity and Family, His Excellency Sun-taik Kwon, Mayor of Daejeon Metropolitan City, Kae-Kyung Chung, President of the Korean Home Economics Association (KHEA), Jaesoon Cho, President of the Korean Home Economics Education Association (KHEEA), and a representative from The Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies. The Grand Ballroom was abuzz with music, dancing, laughter, good and healthy food and friendship. In a very interesting video presentation, delegates were educated about the history of Korean language and culture. The Taekwondo troupe provided some exciting and heart stopping moments.

A Jackman Family Home Economics Adventure


An honourable attendee mention is required. A whole family (except for the oldest brother who couldn’t make it) adventured together to Korea for Congress. Anita Jackman and her three sons Mitch, Lochie and Billy, are all very involved in Home Economics in South Australia. At the Melbourne IFHE Congress in 2010, they made a promise to each other to adventure as a family every 4 years to attend World Congress. Such an inspiration! Well-done and congratulations Anita for inspiring your boys to become the next generation of Home Economists.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony didn’t disappoint. We were woken by a drum troupe and dancers. Each delegate was provided with a translation device. I must take a moment to congratulate the translators. They were of exceptional quality, nothing was lost on translation and they ensured that everyone at Congress enjoyed all the speeches and speakers. It was wonderful to hear the Mayor of Daejeon, Kwon Sun-taik, state that “happiness and peace in humanity begins with a happy family.” My favourite quote from the Opening Ceremony Keynote speakers was that the IFHE Congress 2016 was the Olympics of Home Economics. Carol Warren’s opening address was an inspiration where she encouraged Home Economists to use social media to spread the word and work of Home Economics via hashtag #IFHE2016. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were certainly alive with messages before, during and after Congress.

Hope: Because We Must

dsc_0243-3After he gave us all an opportunity to stretch our arms and clear our minds, we were honoured to hear Professor Peter O’Connor from the University of Auckland, Faculty of Education and Professional Studies, speak about the Pedagogy of Hope. I do not believe there was a dry eye in the grand ballroom. His inspirational story about the “A Tea Spoon of Light” project which was conducted with primary school students and teachers in the wake of the Christchurch Earthquakes was hope personified. Exceptional action research that engages people and provides hope in the worst of times. After congress, Peter and his wife headed to the Syrian refugee camps to use drama with refugees. A truly inspirational human.

After the Opening Ceremony delegates broke out into concurrent sessions.

Technical Tour Option 2: Korean Folk Village & Korean BBQ

dsc_0289Finally, I was going to have a Korean BBQ. Everyone keeps talking about it. We drove about 2 hours from Daejeon to first visit a Korean Folk Village. We made traditional Korean masks (male or female). I made a man mask for my son. We didn’t really get much time to look around the Village before we were off to the museum. I love history. The story of pottery making and written documents were most fascinating. I found an old Singer Sewing Machine and portraits of the Kings. Next we travelled to a back street, I don’t even know where we were, and ushered up some 1470186545342unlikely narrow stairs. My companions and I took our shoes off and entered a banquet room. We were treated to kimchi, blueberry mayonnaise salad, stingray kimchi, bulgogi (beef), glass noodle salad, sesame seed and rice soup, roast pork, tempura pumpkin, octopus and potato omelette, seaweed and mushroom soup, and burnt rice in hot water for dessert. It was truly and amazing culinary experience. I enjoyed every mouthful.




Keynote speaker Professor Robert Mayer (I’m sorry I missed this one) spoke about lessons in humility and hope from the perspective of consumer policy. Donna Pendergast then led the Best Paper session where it was announced that after a double blind peer review process, authors Ji Hyun Kim and Julia Torquati from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, USA were the successful authors with their paper entitled “Does Parental Financial Assistance assist Young Adults to be Financially Healthy? Effects of parent-child relationship qualifiers on financial outcomes and happiness”.

Chaired by Amanda McCloat from St Angela’s College, Sligo, Ireland, I then sat in on the Young Professional Network (YPN) session to hear several speakers provide a glimpse of the future of Home Economics. This group of young professionals (young in age and the young at heart) is a bright hope for the future – we are in good hands.

korea-2016-jayWednesday afternoon – my time to present had come. Room 104: Home Economics Education for Happiness Block 4 13:30~15:00. I presented with amazing company. First, Kathryn McSweeney from St Angela’s College spoke about her research into perceptions of Home Economics in Ireland and how these perceptions impact student outcomes. Donna Pendergast surprised us with a formula for Happiness – yes – there is a formula. Dr Jaydsc_0396 Deagon (that’s me!) spoke about spiritualty and its links with crisis, hope and happiness in the content of Home Economics, and finally, Mary Magdalene Stevenson-Yong from the National Institute of Education in Singapore talked about how Home Economics can fulfil its mission of empowering individuals to experience, create and contribute toward happiness for all. I was honoured to be in this company.

Home Visit

dsc_0410-3I heard from many delegates that the Home Visit was the highlight of their World Congress experience. I sat in a big room and waited for my family to find me. I was left sitting on my own for about 15 minutes. Then a young lady asked me if I was Jay Deagon? I said yes. She was surprised. She was expecting a man. SURPRISE! I walked to the carpark and met her father. He was also surprised to see that I was a woman. SURPRISE! Again! We drove to their apartment complex about 15 minutes from the DCC. I was immediately struck by the sheer number of high density housing that surrounded me. Approximately 20 x 15 story apartment blocks in neat rows. In the between buildings were playgrounds, schools, walkways, gym equipment and convenience stores. My family’s names were Jang Eun Young (daughter), Kang im-seon (mother), and Jang Jae hun (father). They had img_20160803_202255written me a “Welcome” sign on the table. I felt so blessed to be in their home and sharing a meal.

Jang Eun Young translated most of our discussion. Kang im-seon was very interested to hear about what we ate in Australia. I showed her a photograph of a Pavlova – she loved it. My host family put so much food in front of me – I was nearly bursting. I told me hosts that my “belly was full and so was my heart”. I got big hugs and presents from them. I am honoured to have spent time in their company and promised to send them a gift from Australia – a bottle of vegemite and one of my Father’s painting of a beach with waves from Queensland.

Thursday – going home day for me.

Concurrent sessions were all busy and full. Unfortunately, I had to leave to come back to Australia before the Closing Ceremony and final day of the conference. I watch Tweets on my train ride back to Incheon Airport of my friends having an amazing time. Everyone on
stage. Everyone represented. I was pleased to see my Nigerian friends awarded for their cultural performance. As I sat in a very empty airport, I felt full in my heart at having experienced such an amazing journey. Many wonderful memories, created by many wonderful people. Thank you IFHE for another life changing experience.


I’m looking a little worse for wear but our CQUniversity Home Economics Graduates look amazing!

I arrived in Brisbane on Friday night to my family waiting for me. I was so happy to see them and tell them of my adventures. 6am Saturday morning I was back on the road for CQUniversity to attend my local Home Economics Institute of Australia Queensland (HEIAQ) conference. I cannot get enough of Home Economics! I am proud to be a Home Economist at this time in history.

International Federation for Home Economics Press Release


21st March 2016

World Home Economics Day

“Home Economics Literacy: Skills for Families and Consumers”


Since 1982 the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) has celebrated World Home Economics Day (WHED). The purpose is to promote the significance of Home Economics and the Home Economics profession. The theme for the WHED 2016 is: “Home Economics Literacy: Skills for Families and Consumers”. The aim of the WHED 2016 is to communicate the major role Home Economics literacy has in contributing to family and consumer wellbeing and quality of life.

“Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong
learning. It is fully essential to social and human development in its
ability to transform lives. For individuals, families, and societies alike, it
is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s health, one’s
income, and one’s relationship with the world” (UNESCO, 2016).

The concept of Home Economics literacy is the multidisciplinary expression of several literacies such as food literacy, health literacy, financial literacy, consumer literacy and environmental literacy. Home Economics literacy connects elements such as knowledge, skills, culture, systems, and behaviours to enhance quality of life. The IFHE promotes the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the UN 10YFP on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education Sustainability is a consistent thread that is applied in Home Economics education.

The IFHE calls for:

  • All active Home Economists around the world highlight the theme
    of the WHED to show the importance of Home Economics
    competences to manage everyday life.
  • Governments consider the strengthening of the Home Economics
    discipline in school-based education as the basis for self-determined
    and sustainable lifestyles.
  • Home Economics professionals around the world promote the
    contribution of Home Economics literacy to achieve the
    Sustainable Development Goals.


This is a recent press release from the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) about International Day of Families which is celebrated on the 15th of May each year. This year’s theme is “Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families”.

The International Day of Families is celebrated on the 15th of May. This day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of family issues and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic conditions affecting families. The theme for the International Day of Family 2015 is “Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families”. The IFHE supports the approach of the UN DESA, that “family laws govern family relations and seek to protect the vulnerable family members, including women, children and older persons. Fair family law frameworks are especially vital to ensure gender equality and tackle various forms of violence in families” (Background Note, IDF, 2015). Home Economists acknowledge the importance of gender equality in education, law, employment and business. All efforts towards gender equality such as legal frameworks encourage personal empowerment. The IFHE believes that women and men should have equal access to primary and higher education. This facilitates the development of empowerment to act responsibly for their families, women and young girls. Women should be given the tools, such as education and legal rights, to gain self-confidence and the ability to speak and act for themselves and for their children. In cultures and traditions where discrimination of women and girls prevails, men should be encouraged to act as reliable partners for women’s and children’s rights, their health and wellbeing. They should know about the link between the quality of life for women and children and the opportunity for sustainable economic and social development of their family and communities. The International Federation for Home Economics supports:

  • Improvements to women’s and children’s rights in national laws that remove gender inequality.
  • Actions that realise gender equality in families, economics and politics through access to education.
  • Empowering women to achieve self-determined actions for their wellbeing and that of their children.

What a great idea! Every home economics classroom should have a couple of these growing on their kitchen windowsills. Easy to do and our students would have a great time making them 🙂 Sustainability education and food awareness is not just for talking about – it is participating and doing it!

Auntie Dogma's Garden Spot

postheadericon One for the enthusiast

How nice would it be to just be able to pluck fresh green onions from the soil whenever you need them? Nothing beats fresh onions for your salads, dips or soup. But how can you ensure a supply of fresh onions at hand all the time?

Sure, onions are available all year round from the supermarket, but they are hardly fresh and there’s almost always no way to know for sure where they came from.

Gardeners of course will simply grow them but some simply have problems with available space.

I came across an image of spring onions grown vertically on the windowsill, using a common 5 Liter PBS bottle, which I thought was a practical, space-saving and green way to grow onions. I posted the image on our Facebook Page and a few people asked how it was done…

View original post 177 more words

This blog is in response to a recent article which declared that Hugh Acheson (another high profile TV and media chef in a long line of high profile TV and media chefs who are not Home Economists) is planning to remake Home Economics curriculum in the United States. Read original article via this link. I read this article and all the ideas are fantastic! I do not see fault in Hugh’s ideas:

“We’re sort of redoing the whole curriculum to give kids the life skills so that in their 20s, they actually know how to poach an egg, or make some jam, or make a chutney, or make some pickles, just bare-bones cooking necessities that people seem to have forgotten how to do”.

Speaking as a trained high school home economics teacher, isn’t this what home economics is already about? Which led me to question the reason why Hugh decided to do this “all new” not-for-profit home economics curriculum makeover:

“Acheson noticed the need for a reassessment and redesign of what’s going on in home ec classrooms when his daughter came home from school after learning to cook red velvet cupcakes from a box and croissants wrapped in bacon from a tube.”

Ok – so I will side with his daughter’s home economics teacher for a moment and ask:

  • Was the lesson about reading instructions?
  • Was the lesson about grossness (aka critical evaluations) of packet mixes?
  • A lesson on the differences between raising agents?
  • Was the teacher having a rare fun food day?
  • Was the teacher a trained home economics teacher?
  • Did the school purchasing officer stuff up the ordering of raw ingredients?
  • Was it a lesson on kitchen utensils and ovens and the content of the product didn’t matter?
  • Maybe there was not enough money in the school’s bank accounts to buy organic and/or local ingredients?
  • Perhaps Hugh’s daughter just wanted to make Red Velvet Cup Cakes because her friends all say they are amazing?

I am Australian and thank goodness I have never heard of “croissants wrapped in bacon from a tube” but perhaps his daughter’s home economics class was learning about the French Revolution? I would revolt too if a croissant came in a tube!

All these questions relating to the teacher’s possible motives, led me to also question Hugh’s qualifications. Does Hugh’s media personality/chef status make him a qualified home economics teacher? Short answer is no. Is Hugh an education expert with a 4 year teaching degree? Does Hugh have a four or five year developmentally appropriate curriculum plan which teaches “the basics” where each skill mastered becomes more complex in the next course unit? Believe me – it is a very tricky thing to make curriculum developmentally appropriate, aligned with cross-curriculum priorities, and assessment, and still teach young human beings how to become responsible adult human beings! Canada’s and much of FACS (USA) existing home economics curriculum is actually pretty amazing! The aim of home economics is to empower students so that by the end of the 4 or 5 years of study, the student is not only a confident person in the kitchen but can also make ethical, aware and sustainable decisions for themselves and others. I have written else where about the benefits of the whole home economics curriculum.

I also started to wonder, did Hugh speak with his daughter’s home economics teacher? Did Hugh offer his daughter’s teacher his expertise to enhance his daughter’s and her classmates educational experience? Has Hugh spoken with the local or national home economics associations? The IFHE? Me?

On several occasions I have urged home economists to look at their lesson and curriculum plans because THIS ARTICLE is the reason we get a bad reputation. Hugh believes that home economics needs a makeover… hasn’t this already been done in each and every school who offers home economics? If not, then this is just embarrassing for the rest of us who fight so hard to uphold the integrity and academic rigor of home economics.

Again, I urge all home economists to work with parents and your local communities to ensure that they are aware of what and why you do what you do with students… do not allow negative perceptions or public opinion to drive the profession. We must take back control of our subject and re-educate parents and the public about what we do in our schools. What a wealth of knowledge Hugh would have been to his daughter’s school. Alternatively, if the teacher invited him in… would he have been too busy? Working with parents and building relationships is really important for 21st century home economics. “Rethinking” home economics means looking outside the four walls of your classrooms. If you are unsure how to proceed with change – ASK FOR HELP! A wealth of knowledge and experience is usually only a phone call, an email away, or one of your own students might hold a key to a new doorway.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from Hugh about his plans!

Why is research, publications and a strong online presence important for keeping home economics thriving? 


I entered the home economics profession as a pre-service teacher in 2005. My many undergraduate assignments required that I search for literature that specifically related to home economics. Recent (within 5 years) and original home economics research articles were surprisingly difficult to find. I could see a void in the research literature and I wanted to play my part to fill this gap. For 10 years (bachelor degree, masters and doctorate = 10 years of study), I have pursued an academic career… but this path has not been without criticism.

One seasoned home economics teacher said to me “becoming an academic is a ridiculous decision – we don’t have enough teachers as it is”. My return argument was that without evidence-based research, we can’t influence policy, get funding and train more teachers.

My reason for becoming an academic: to influence policy makers and public opinion about the benefits of home economics.

My driving passion: home economics and the health and wellbeing of humanity and our Earth home.

My method: showcase evidence-based research that demonstrates the extraordinary work that home economists do on a daily basis.

My challenges: lots. You might say “yeah, yeah, we know we are awesome” but OTHER people don’t really seem to “get” what we do. Why? Because of a general lack of published research within home economics spaces and places; deficiencies in our collective online presence.

What can we do to fix this situation?

Keywords and hashtags: “Home Economics”, #HomeEconomics

There is plenty of online literature and print material in libraries about textiles, food and nutrition, consumerism, families and households (as examples) but very little with “home economics” as a keyword or mention “home economics” in the abstract. Without “home economics” specifically identified in the keywords or abstracts, database searches do not pick up the articles. Valuable home economics knowledge is being lost or buried. The development of “Google search” has made life a little easier – but still – there isn’t much scholarly information on the inter-webs with free and easy access for students, home economists or the general public.

If you call home economics by another name… use the “home economics” keyword to bring all knowledge and research under one banner. For example, Family & Consumer Science (aka FACS) in the United States does some amazing work – but when I was an Australian undergraduate – I didn’t even know FACS existed – therefore, I didn’t know I had such a wealth of knowledge and research available to me. The name “home economics” is used in more countries around the world than any other name you care to give it.  Think Bigger! We are a globalised world now. If we don’t share our information – we loose.

Publish, publish, publish or perish

Unfortunately, the old adage of “publish or perish” is a reality. If we don’t publish, the profession won’t thrive.  Without the evidence that our profession makes a real and sustained positive difference to peoples’ lives, we won’t get funding, media recognition, favourable government policies or a prominent place in the curriculum… the list of negative impacts is endless. A different seasoned home economist once said at a public event “oh, don’t worry, home economics will always be around in some form or another“. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! From my heart – survival isn’t enough – thriving is what we should all be aiming for! Therefore, publishing research is vital. I encourage home economists to publish their research far and wide. Again – think BIG and outside the square. Can you publish something in the International Journal for Home Economics or choose a journal or newsletter on the other side of the world from you?

What to publish?

Our ‘intellectual ecology’ is of vital importance (Green, 2001). Published research that specifically relates to home economics is rare. A collaborative effort will change this status quo. All teachers are researchers… but you may not realise it. So what can you publish?

  • Share insights:
    • philosophies, projects, learning outcomes. Classroom projects that you might think are boring – someone else might think are amazing – your teaching is worth more to others than you think. Classroom projects are research in action. Projects that engage the community also have a significant impact factor. The unique way you think and do things is important to record and share!
  • Share knowledge:
    • theories, action research, methodologies, literature reviews, book reviews, reviews of new technologies.
  • Share research:
    • journals, trade publications, write a book, blog, write a media release.

I see many home economics teachers on Facebook and Twitter asking for info, lesson plans, helpful tips – the range of topics is huge! If you don’t participate in the conversation – we loose.

Help a mate out! (yep – I’m Australian). Communication and collaboration is really important – especially for our colleagues in the rural and remote places of the world. Don’t keep the information to yourself. Share it.

Where to go for help?

Seek out a home economics academic with a similar interest to you! We are your friends. Among our many research, service and teaching roles – we also write publications for a living. Sorry (not sorry) for dobbing all you academics in! In addition, you can seek the assistance of your local home economics association. They will help to publish stuff. I often hear editors screaming for more work to publish in their journals and newsletters. Get on-board!

What content?

People will always find time to write about the things they are most passionate… hence why I persist with writing articles about home economics.

Is home economics your driving passion? Yes! Then write about it!

For this reason, what content you put in an article will also depend on your passions and audience. Different publications require different structures and content. Here are a few examples to help.

Formal Communication: Academic journals

  • Specific word limits, usually between 3,000 and 5,000 words.
  • Abstract – abstracts usually contain about 5 sentences and goes a little like… “so what, so what, so what, so what, dead puppies” in 200 words or less.
  • Introduction/significance – why is this article important? who will it benefit? why will they benefit? what does this article contain?
  • Literature review – what has already been done/said about our topic?
  • Method – the who, what, when, where, how of the project.
  • Results/findings – pick the top 4 or 5 most important things you learnt from the project and report on them only – don’t get side-tracked!
  • Discussion/implications/recommendations/limitations – what we learnt from the project, is this consistent or inconsistent with the literature? What would we do differently next time? We need more money and resources to do this again, properly and on a bigger scale (with more people).
  • Conclusion – Home Economics is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G (or not) – we must contain our biases (or not)!
  • Reference list

Informal Communication: Media Releases / Newsletters / Blogs

  • WHO – The home economics teachers at Awesome College identified that students needed to…
  • WHAT – In home economics class we did a project on…
  • WHEN – For 5 weeks in first term we…
  • WHERE – In our local community we…
  • HOW – The method we used was…
  • WHY – It was really important in our community that we addressed…
  • OUTCOME – We were really surprised at the success because…
  • INSIGHTS – We are doing it again next year, but this time we will change…

Can’t think of where to start? Check out this phrase bank.

Maintain an online presence

Having and maintaining a presence online is important – the next generation are watching!!! HomeEcConnect is waiting for you! Come join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Make time

In reality, none us have enough time… we are all very busy… I get that. Home economists are truly busy people. They start work very early in the morning cleaning out and restocking fridges and we finish very late at night cleaning up after a big day. We work under pressures, constraints and conditions that many other curriculum subjects don’t have to endure. BUT we do our work because we love our subject and we are passionate about ensuring positive outcomes for our students, their families and our communities. So, ask a busy person, they will do the work. I’m asking you to make time. Don’t hate me!!! I really really am on your side, by your side, behind you and in front! Teamwork makes it easier. Share.

Contribute to our common goal

As home economists one of our common goals is to ‘achieve optimal and sustainable living for individuals, families and communities’ (International Federation for Home Economics, 2009). Without an evidence-base to back up our home economics conversations, the conversations are ineffectual. This blog has been about the importance of publishing research. So often, research isn’t reported. This is a tragedy. A lack of published research may be part of the reason the home economics profession has struggled for legitimacy and recognition as a mainstream profession for so long.  Let’s change this.

Home economists educate about the purpose, function, purchasing and availability of food. We provide skills for creating and repairing clothes and textile items. We teach about responsible, ethical fashion and product consumption. We assist with building strong and sustainable relationships with families, peer groups, communities, businesses, industry and political agencies. We have empowered and inspired many thousands of girls, boys, men and women, families and communities who have successfully created happy and healthy environments of their own. Rather than the mere ‘survival’ of home economics – it is time for us to thrive. Help us create sustainable futures for all. Send out more positive messages and evidence based-research about home economics and publish publish publish!

Easy as!

My work is very serious and I take myself very seriously… but sometimes humour is the only way to stay sane.

Keeping home economics alive and thriving
Dr Jay R. Deagon PhD

These views and opinions are my own.


Green, K. (2001). Our Intellectual Ecology: A treatise on Home Economics. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 93(3).

International Federation for Home Economics. (2008). Home Economics in the 21st century: position statement. Retrieved from http://www.ifhe.org/

I am also totally against kids menus, and they seem to be the same all over the world! Chicken nuggets, chips, pizza, or spaghetti! – what is with that?? My son always chooses from the adult menu, unfortunately, my husband would prefer to choose from the kids menu… Extending a child’s palate beyond the “norm” is essential education and is the collaborative responsibility of parents, restaurants and home economics professionals. We have to question who chose those “norms” for our kids and why do we keep going back to this mundane, unhealthy, boring menu selection? Time for real change. Next time you eat out – make sure you say something to the owners of the restaurant. After all, they provide your family with what THEY think YOU want… tell them otherwise!

The Malteaser~Suzanne Piscopo's Blog


So let me be bold and say it: YES I am TOTALLY AGAINST KIDS MENUS as they are currently presented in the majority of restaurants. The usual triad of chicken nuggets and fries, cheese and tomato pizza and tortellini is sad. Sad, because at a restaurant we have a wonderful opportunity for children to taste new foods, to sample familiar foods presented differently, and to enjoy eating food in a social environment which may be more conducive to exploration and discovery. I applaud parents who ignore the typical Kids Menu and get half portions or sharing portions from the regular ‘adult’ menu for their kids. I applaud restaurants who offer this option and have no Kids Menu! I appreciate that parents often resort by default to the Kids Menu in the name of meal tranquillity, getting some food into their kids’ bellies and avoidance of food waste, but what a…

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Opinion written by Dr Jay Deagon PhD, 18 October 2014.

A recent article in the Australian reported outcomes of the review of the Australian Curriculum. In that opinion article it was stated “many people seem to have been surprised at the mention of spirituality in the review report. Some people seem to think that the reviewers have made this up.”  The word ‘spiritual’ is not just made up and has an important role to play in curriculum. In a recent study, I reviewed the Melbourne Declaration and also a decade worth of historical Queensland syllabus documents. The study found that “the spiritual dimension of life” to be a key rationale for education. There were also a number of competing and complementary discourses located in the texts. For example, Indigenous perspectives, equity considerations, social justice, and active local and global citizenship were embedded with spiritual ideals and values – ideals that did not necessarily derive from religious perspectives. My study found that spiritual discourses fell into three categories:

  1. spirituality as a socially constructed, publicly expressed and communally validated concept – i.e. meaning is localised;
  2. spirituality as an aspect of whole child development; and
  3. spirituality as an integral part of overall health and wellbeing.

When approached from a balanced, cross-cultural perspective, spirituality is about providing opportunities for students to explore connectedness with self, others, the environment and natural world, and understanding the place of humans in the larger scheme of life on Earth and beyond. Spirituality is about “being-in-the-world”. Isn’t that what “education” is about? We teach people to be human beings – not recontextualised packets of unrelated subject material. Spirituality can play out in education as service to others; studies of philosophy and critical thinking; personal reflections and mindfulness; moral and ethical consumer studies; acting upon inequity and poverty issues identified in local and global environments; school based kitchen gardens; (re)connectedness with our food system; sustainable relationships; and so forth… If approached from a position of relevance to the students and families in the local community, are “hands-on” in their approach, and provide opportunities for an awakening of global consciousnesses, these types of activities in school contexts can contribute in a positive ways to spiritual health and wellbeing. For these reasons, spirituality is more than a nominal goal of education within Australian curriculum.

Standardised testing isn’t accurate… students are wonderful, unique human beings with many talents. Good to remember to tell your students how amazing they are.


Letter sent home from school

[Slowly rising to my feet. Slowly clapping. Nodding in approval.]

Thank you, Barrowford Primary School, for saying what needed to be said.

[via Reddit]

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Critial Thinking CatIf someone told you every day “you are a fat idiot” – you would start to believe them – even if it wasn’t true. If someone told you every day “you can do anything and have everything you always wanted” – you would start to believe them – even if it wasn’t true. Advertising has altered our expectations of what life is really about. Advertising is a complex problem. For many years advertisers have filled our heads and hearts with unreasonable expectations. They use fear and/or guilt to build a “need” for a product. Home economists, health educators, food security experts and sustainable practice advocates are desperately trying to undo unrealistic “need” perceptions. Not an easy task when some people have lost the use of their natural inbuilt “bullshit detectors” (aka critical thinking skills).

As a result of advertising (and I’m not just solely blaming advertisers, as I said, this is a really complex problem with many contributing factors and stakeholders), I believe, many people have lost touch with the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. The difference between wants and needs have become a distorted. I need love, companionship, clean air and water, food, shelter, safety and security… Most of the ‘things’ we see in advertising are ‘wants’. I do not need a new mobile phone every 3 months, new shoes just because someone says my old ones are out of fashion, out of season fruit, imported cheese from France – they are wants.

Time to refocus on the concept of enough. Can I survive happily if my basic needs are met? All things considered, if I have a safe and loving home, the skills to provide/prepare fresh food for myself and my family, an alert and educated mind, peace and hope in my heart, and clothes on my body – do I have enough? Home economics education helps individuals and families to develop critical thinking skills to counteract the negative, unrealistic and unsustainable effects of advertising. Home economics is a curriculum subject which helps people identify their own “enough” and provides the hands-on skills to achieve or acquire their own basic needs. It is time to nurture a global spiritual consciousness and get real about what life is all about. What starts in the home radiates out into the world. I have hope that we can re-learn the difference between wants and needs. Home economics is a key to re-education about the meaning of enough.

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