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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…

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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!

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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.

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In my study about spiritual health and well-being frameworks in home economics – listening to your “inner voice” and “silence” are significant aspects of spirituality. In today’s busy world it is very hard to find moments when you can be still and practice mindfulness meditations. As a student in the late 1970s and 1980s I always remember my classrooms being busy and noisy places; non-stop activities and movement. I applaud those teachers who recognise and actively encourage silence and self-reflection in classrooms. These features of education are very important parts of the learning process, yet, often overlooked. If school is about developing whole human beings – then self-reflection, silence and a chance for hope to shine through are essential elements of school life. I encourage all teachers to create spaces for silence.

Hopeful Learning: Kristi Blakeway

“Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

Author unknown

I am not a quiet person.  I like to talk.  I like to laugh.  Those who know me well describe me as an extrovert.  And yet, the older I get, I wonder if that’s really true.  I find that as I get older, the more I rely on my inner voice and the more I learn to appreciate silence.  When I need to make a big decision I certainly like to talk to others, but ultimately I find I am able to find answers when I am quiet. When I take time to consciously stop and reflect, things become clear. Times like spring break, Christmas break and summer provide natural opportunities to…

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I have nothing to add. James McIntosh has hit the nail on the head. Very well written. A good article to show your school principal if they decide to cut funding.

James McIntosh's Weblog

Mary Berry, the doyen of AGA and all things home baking, has been that a lady I have grown up with through both my education and my career.  She is a lady I hold in high regard and when I first met her I realised that she was just that, a real lady.  Her mannerisms, how she conducts herself and her words make her such a kind and beautiful human being.
Mary has been known within AGA for a lot more years than I.  She has been a great friend of AGA and a few years back at an AGA Demonstrators conference she addressed us as the after dinner speaker.  I remember Mary telling us that she trained at the Le Cordon Bleu Cookery Schools, one of which I first worked at when I moved to London.  I remember Mary’s work actually trained me when I was taking…

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Written by Jay Deagon @HomeEcConnect, June 2012.

In March 2012 I attended Interdisciplinary.net’s 2nd Global Conference on Spirituality in the 21st Century in Prague, Czech Republic. It was amazing. Here is a little summary of my trip:

Every time people ask me about my research they mainly struggle with two concepts… first, they do not know what “Home Economics” is… beyond “cooking and sewing”, and second, their eyebrows do strange wiggling things when I say “spiritual health and well-being”. For the first time in five years when I mentioned my research at the conference in Prague – I only got strange eyebrow twitches from mentioning Home Economics. For many of the conference presenters, spirituality research forms part of their everyday practice. I finally found a group of like-minded people I could relate to on an Interdisciplinary level. “Excellent!” *she thinks* “now, all I have to do is educate them about Home Economics”. So I started by explaining that Home Economics was a global community of practitioners. Some were surprised by this. Then I introduced them to the International Federation for Home Economics Position Statement. I highlighted an overarching purpose of Home Economics by explaining that Home Economists are concerned about “the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities”. On completing my presentation several people approached me and said “I will never look at Home Economics the same way again”. Success!!! So, what did I say that made a difference? I pointed out some synergies between Home Economics and spiritual health and well-being.

A very brief summary of my presentation: Synergies between Home Economics and Spiritual Health and Well-being

“Thumbs up” for Home Economics!

For my research, spiritual health and well-being is a fundamental aspect of the human condition as well as planetary health. Spiritual health and well-being is an umbrella concept that (may or may not) inspire us to pursue quality relationships with self (individuals with self-awareness), others (families and communities), the living and non-living environments (sustainability) and the Transcendent domain (human beings living within a local and global (or “glocal”) reality or realities). Most people can relate to the first three without a problem – it is the transcendental domain that causes said eyebrow twitching. For my research, the transcendental domain is that “place” or “an essence” or “matter and energy” or “God” or “Gods” or “ancestors” or… or… or… the place where “faith” and “hope” meet reality. All the stuff that binds everything and everyone together – all the unexplained stuff – all the spaces in between – “the Mystery bit” – you know what I’m talking about – that “thing” that scientists, religious, secular and mystical people and philosophers have been searching for, for thousands of years and never resolved to anyone else’s satisfaction. The point being, regardless of your belief system – this proposed framework is capable of transversal inclusivity and diversity and is respectful of all humans.

Other outcomes of the conference

  • Spent some quality time discussing Spiritual Health and Well-being with Dr John Fisher and John Hochheimer. Dr John Fisher is the originating author of the Four Domains Model of Spiritual Health and Well-being and the SHALOM survey which was used as the theoretical foundation of my PhD. John Hochheimer was our conference facilitator, academic, New York D.J. and general all round legend.
  • I made invaluable collegial friendships and other contacts with international researchers in the field of spirituality and spiritual health and well-being.
  • I was exposed to so many alternative perspectives about spirituality research. To name a few – chronic illness, space exploration, psychology, drug, sex and alcohol counselling, architecture, radio, music, film and television, family studies, primary and secondary school education, Atheist, Christian and Buddhist philosophy.
  • Successfully advocated for Home Economics to a non-Home Economics specialist international audience.
  • I am contributing a book chapter in an upcoming eBook – due for publication later in the year.

Will keep you posted about the Book Chapter to be published. In the meantime – click here for a draft version of the presentation.

Other random fun stuff I learnt about Prague:

Order the chicken!

The food was filling. When you order “the chicken” – you got a whole corn-fed chicken.

Sand shoes are a must in Prague

Sensible people wear sensible shoes on the streets of Prague. Cobble stones and high heels do not mix – lucky I love my sandshoes!

Prague is obviously an old city because the town planning has a LOT to answer for! The streets are narrow and don’t necessarily go anywhere. I got lost more than once.

Charles Bridge, Prague

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge has a lot of religious statues. People rub certain statues for “good luck”. The strangest one being where a man jumped off the bridge and committed suicide – how can that be considered good luck?

Public transport is pretty good – if you could read and translate the street signage.

Overall – a very successful visit to Prague to advocate for Home Economics to an international audience, share my research with interested and interesting people and generally a great fun adventure was had.

Final note: A special thank you must go to the Home Economics Institute of Australia (HEIA) for their financial support as a demonstration of their commitment to research in the field of Home Economics. Special thanks also must go to the Griffith Graduate Research School for granting me an International Conference Travel Scholarship.

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Did you notice that HomeEcConnect posts have been a little quiet lately? I went on the first real holiday I have had with my family in many years. This holiday I did not take my computer and I did not desperately seek out someone else’s computer or install a new application on my mobile phone to quickly check Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or even HomeEcConnect or the progress of the spiritual health and well-being survey. I made the decision to have a technology blackout and I do not regret it one little bit. In fact, I can thoroughly recommend it. My son, my partner and I had a wonderful holiday playing in the pool, walking around the zoo, talking to each other, finding frogs, playing games, eating together, laughing and generally having lots of non-technology assisted family fun – except for the digital camera which got a good workout.

When I finally turned my mobile phone back on after 5 days… to my utter dismay (because I’m obviously not very important) and relief –  I did not have one single urgent message! Also, when I finally checked my emails – I had a lot of SPAM but again – no urgent messages! Be honest, you probably didn’t even realise that I was missing? Did you?

When I did finally opened the home economics and spiritual health and well-being survey to see if there were any responses – I got a lovely surprise – many people have taken a great deal of care and consideration in fully completing the survey.  Thank you to those of you who took the time to complete it.

I urge those of you who have not yet done so – to please make the time. I have received some fascinating and insightful responses so far and I can’t wait to share the results with you in the future. However, I need more responses to make the research robust and valid.

As a networked community – can we send the survey viral? So far participants from 14 countries have expressed their perspectives about spiritual health and well-being. More cross-cultural responses would provide richer results.

The survey is looking for commonalities in our perspectives about to home economics and its relationship with spiritual health and well-being. 

Click on the survey link below or copy and paste it into your browser. Also copy and paste the link into an email and share this survey with others.


If your school firewall allows you access to the survey link and you have a spare computer lab session – why not ask your students to complete the survey too?

In saying this, for many HomeEcConnect teachers and students, the school year is about to come to a close. Please consider at least a few days of actual holiday and leave the technology at home or work – after you have completed the survey of course 🙂

Wishing you all a relaxing holiday full of whatever it is that makes you happy.


Visit HomeEcConnect at: http://homeecconnect.com.au

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