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Posts Tagged ‘Hugh Acheson’

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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