Posts Tagged ‘global crisis’

Sometimes, when I come across a relevant passage of text in a historical home economics document, I feel completely breathless… *smacks self in the forehead*… why didn’t people listen then? More importantly, why don’t they listen now?

I have posted in this blog, for your amusement, or otherwise, a passage from 1902 (that’s right… 1902… and what are we now?… 2013!) from the Lake Placid Conference Proceedings Volume 4, pages 30 and 31 from an article entitled “Some Controlling Ideals of the Family Life of the Future” written by Dr Thomas D. Woods, Professor of Physical Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. He wrote thus,

There should be more study of life and the world of living things; of man’s place in nature; more study of human life, of its nature, origin and development. There should be thru this study a larger racial and human consciousness on the part of young men and women, even of boys and girls. There is here the possibility of a reverence for life and its responsibilities which may steady and inspire in a wholesome way even the youth. There is a girls’ school in a conservative part of this country [America] where, I am told, instruction has been given for some time concerning life and health, responsibility for the home and parenthood and some of the obligations to the future. I am told that this instruction has seemed to be one of the most potent influences in the life of the school for fine scholarship and for earnest, wholesome and joyous girlhood. The standards of such phases of education as I have alluded to will of course affect, and in a vital way, the ideals of the home. This conscious responsibility for the future will help those who are living now as much as those of coming generations. Man can only attain his highest self-realization in the pursuit of ideals which are practical for the present and at the same time protective of indefinite but positive interests far ahead. When we strive for ends too near ourselves we lose perspective and balance, the saner judgment; in short, we lose ourselves and the largest opportunity of work for others. There is an inspiration and immediate uplift in working day by day for the interests of the generation ahead, without neglecting present duties, which can only be realized thru experience. This ideal, at first new and conscious, later, thru proper education and training, in many ways subconscious and automatic (but always controlling and farsighted) may be the mainspring, the governing principle of the individual and of the family. If it is to be effective it must be intelligent and scientific but, as [Benjamin] Kidd states so clearly, men and women will not sacrifice the temporary and more or less selfish interests of today for the indefinite values of the future simply thru intellectual understanding and appreciation or with a rational sanction alone. The religious consciousness must participate in all of this; the conscience must be touched, the heart thrilled and the imagination fired with a compelling devotion to this larger altruism, this cosmic service. There must be in the individual the effective consciousness of vital relation to a world progress; to the work of the ages. There is constant danger in these days even for the generous minded and philanthropic of being submerged in the technic and mechanics of life. This ideal which looks forward to the future, often vague but always inspiring, may furnish the sustaining and stimulating atmosphere in which may be accomplished all the smallest and homeliest details of each day and these may become not only endurable but worthy because of their relation to great things. Such ideas may seem to many theoretic and hazy but there are today individuals and families who are successful and happy in the consciousness of the fulness of life thru this relation to all life. Men and women may be imbued with the thought that salvation should include not so much or primarily the idea of present or future well-being for ourselves but rather the saving and protecting the best interests of the lives of others, those living now and those to come after. This scheme of salvation will not neglect the spiritual if the temporal and moral are given their proper place in relation to the permanent and infinite.

Yes, I concede that it is a bit of a Christian sermon, patriarchal and Darwinian (blah blah blah), but, regardless of religious orientation, gender or evolutionary perspectives, it still makes sense – don’t you think? I can recommend reading the whole article. He covers selfishness, breakdown of marriage, neglect of children due to working parents, overfeeding, fads and fashions, waste and consumerism. Home Economics = visionary!


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Words written and photographs taken by Jay Deagon @HomeEcConnect

For those of you who do not know me personally, I live in South-East Queensland, Australia. For the past few days we have had extensive flooding down majority of the east coast of Australia. Thankfully, me and my family are all safe and no damage has been done (except for our washing line which was bent by a very large tree branch). I am truly grateful; however, many other families and communities have not been so lucky. At this point, I would like to extend a big thank you to all of the emergency workers, electricity workers and our police departments for their efforts in rescues and clean up.

DSC_0167I believe that this natural disaster, and all natural disasters around the world in the past few years, are a timely reminder about the importance of Home Economics knowledge and education. For example:

  • What do you do with the contents of the refrigerator or freezer if the power goes out?
  • What is safe to eat?
  • How do you conserve water or decontaminate water so that it is safe to drink?
  • Preparation of an “Emergency Kit”
  • What are the alternatives when there is no bread or milk?
  • Canning, insurance policies, sewing, mending
  • Keeping the family safe, entertained, healthy and happy in an emergency situation
  • What do you cook with the last few remaining contents of the pantry when all the roads are cut and panic buying has left the shop shelves empty?
  • 101 uses for cloves, cinnamon and baking soda
  • Starting a home/school vegetable garden now – you can’t grow food in 4 days!

Individual, family and community preparation and contingency planning… We provide this kind of information and inspiration in Home Economics classes. Don’t we? Self-sufficiency in situations like natural disasters is extremely important. Knowing what to do with the resources you have readily available. Do not underestimate the value of Home Economics education in a time of crisis.

DSC_0082You may find your Home Economics lessons very useful on a rainy day!

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Written by Jay Deagon @ HomeEcConnect

At different times we all find ourselves at the point of wanting to scream out the obvious. Like a braveheart or Greenpeace speech that makes people go to the ends of the earth for a cause that they never knew existed. Well, this is my Greenpeace speech… think of me as Drew Barrymore in that save the whales movie (Big Miracle, 2012). So desperate, overwhelmed by the challenge and feeling helpless but still determined.  I feel like my profession is dying. The ice is freezing over the breathing hole of Home Economics and I just can’t let that happen. We need a big miracle.

One of the most frustrating things a Home Economics professional (me, other teachers, industry people and academics) hear is that Home Economics is on the extinction list. Millions of people are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to save the whales, gorillas and rhinos. Millions of dollars are spent on public media campaigns, research, rangers and habitat protection. Protection of our wildlife is essential – because if we lose these animals – we lose our humanity. Humans become little more than top predator animals. The problem is, humans are destroying not only the animals and their habitats… we sometimes forget or turn a blind eye to the fact… we are also destroying our own habitat and ultimately… ourselves. The list of crises is well-documented and becoming increasingly overwhelming to contemplate for the average person. I shall remind you of a few of the global crisis conversations:

  1. Obesity caused by over-nutrition and sedentary lifestyles
  2. Death and disease caused by malnutrition
  3. Inadequate and unsustainable household practices
  4. Over-consumption of resources
  5. Breakdown of family relationships
  6. Chemical waste caused by the production of textiles
  7. Food insecurity
  8. Financial/economic crisis
  9. Lose of diversity
  10. Inadequate waste disposal procedures
  11. Consequences of water pollution, drought and floods
  12. and the list goes on and on so I don’t think that I need to go on… you get the picture

Well – you know what? I actually have a solution. Home Economics education. Home Economics is already in place in thousands of schools in many countries around the world. Each school teaches according to the needs of the local people, often incorporating global perspectives. With a rich history spanning over a century, we continue to educate new generations with practical solutions to many of the things listed above. As a whole profession, we just aren’t very good at telling people about what we do and why it makes a difference. This is one reason why Home Economics is on the endangered list.

Home Economics has been called the “silent” profession. But we certainly are not silent people. Have you ever heard a Home Ec teacher’s commanding voice raised in a kitchen with 15 electric egg beaters going? or giving instructions over the noise of 15 sewing machines? We are busy people. But we don’t have much time to organise press releases for the local news papers. Instead we just get on with our jobs on a day-to-day basis.

We teach your children about food (nutrition, food literacy, kitchen appliances, washing up, cleaning, hygiene, body image, menu planning, experimenting, organics, religious practices, celebrations, agriculture, transport). We teach your children about clothes (textiles, fashion, organics, chemicals, artistic creation, child labour laws, ethics, recycling and up-cycling, design and construction). We teach your children about sustainability practices in the home (light bulbs, washing machines, fridges, eco-friendly furniture, aesthetics, ethical consumer choices). We teach your children about money (rental and loan agreements, bank balances and budgeting). We teach your children how to live within their means. We teach your children the importance of sitting down with the family to have a meal. We teach your children how to use a knife and fork and where their food really comes from. As my colleague James McIntosh puts it, “from farm to fork”. We teach mathematics, literacy, geography, history, culture, technology, design, innovation, creativity, critical and independent thinking (see my Home Economics Hamburger). But most importantly, we (usually) have fun teaching and learning together. We teach about respect for self and the importance of service to others. We teach about caring for our environment. We give your children regular opportunities for success. We prepare your children for life. We teach your children how to become independent and autonomous. We teach your children how to care for their children and the children of others. We teach about what it means to be a human being living an everyday life. Sometimes, home economics is the place where students first realise what their passion is, and what their future job might be. It is not what we teach in Home Economics but why… That is what makes our profession so vital to the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. We often teach in very simple ways but these simple ways have lifelong impacts on boys and girls, men and women, and everyone else who doesn’t or won’t fit inside a labelled box.

I admit that much of the evidence of our success is anecdotal and not supported by “evidence-based research”. To give you an idea about anecdotal evidence I will tell you a little story. One of my favourite memories during my Home Economics teacher internship involved a year eight student (14 years old). At the end of our lesson (yes, we cooked fried rice) I turned on some music and encouraged the students to sing while they cleaned up the kitchen. Imagine 24 students, each with their own assigned job (team work and responsibility) singing The Village People’s  YMCA song while cleaning up. Admittedly it was a little like a scene from Glee. As we left the room, one student came up to me and said “I didn’t know cleaning up could be so much fun!” She had the biggest grin on her face. It was priceless. I knew I had made a difference that day. I had changed that student’s perception about washing dishes – that is NOT an easy task! There are many, many more stories out there just like this one; teachers doing their everyday job and students learning important life lessons.

Oral stories and anecdotes like this one cause a problem for the profession. Research is vital because governments won’t listen if we do not provide “evidence-based research” to back-up our claims. We lose funding and departments close. However, governments do also listen to “the people”. While academics work furiously to gather evidence (like me, I am doing research in the field as are many others around the world) the profession still needs the voice of the people. We need the collective voices of teachers, students, parents, carers, doctors, health professionals, celebrities, Jamie Oliver, Pink, Michelle Obama, Richard Branson, Julia Gillard, Ophra, The Elders, His Holiness Dali Lama – anyone listed in Time Magazine’s 2012 top 100 most influential people – I don’t actually care whose voice – so long as it is a positive and productive one.

As a profession few of us use our public voices, few of us will challenge articles, comment on issues and list ourselves by our profession.  People make a lot of noise when they feel passionate about saving something that they love. Why aren’t we making noise about Home Economics when we are on the endangered list? This “noise” gets us noticed.  I see too many complaints about departments closing… without opposition. So fellow global professionals, do something now, be visible, yes you too Home Ec teacher in the small school, you have something to say.  Too much press recently has been about departments closing; keep them open now with your noise.

We cannot allow such a precious profession to become extinct. Please, give a shout out for Home Economics. Tweet your favourite Home Economics story. Write a blog about it. Tell your local newspaper… but whatever you do… proudly tag it #homeeconomics. We support you and we need you to support us.

HomeEcConnect Website: www.homeecconnect.com.au

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