Home Economics, gone the way of the dinosaurs?

I don’t know about you, but when I was in high school, and middle school I think, there was this class called Home Economics. I remember really wanting to take the home economics class when I was preparing to be a freshman in high school. I also remember my dad saying gruffly, “You don’t need home ec, anything you will learn in there I can teach you. I can teach you to cook, sew on a button and balance your checkbook.”  And, for the most part, he did, but he insisted that I take Spanish because that would be much more useful to me. (Sorry dad, but I still wish I had taken home ec.) From what I’ve heard now, the home economics classes have changed, they care called, well, I don’t think I know what they are called nowadays, but it’s not home ec.

Now, here’s some background, last night I was trying to figure out how to cut the squares for a card trick block and I was having a lot of trouble. You see, up until last night, everything I had made that related to quilting, all the pieces had similar dimensions. Ok, I admit, they were squares. All the blankets I have made so far (and quilt blocks) have been made up of either squares sewn together, or half square triangles, sewn together.  In other words, all of the pieces were the same size. But, for this block, there are some squares that are 4 1/4″ and some that are 3 7/8″.  Then, the larger square is cut diagonally into four equal triangles and the smaller square is cut diagonally to make two triangles. This is an entirely new concept for me, two blocks with different sizes.  So, I had drawn out the diagram and then colored it in so I could see which triangles were which. But my point is that I realized something, I was doing GEOMETRY! Sort of. I came to this realization because this weekend I spent the entire Sunday reviewing math concepts that appear on the SAT because in two weeks I will be teaching an SAT prep course.  So I realized that sewing involves quite a bit of math skills and even abstract thinking sometimes.  And along those lines, I was thinking that usually, I am completely afraid of math (don’t tell my future students) but if it is related to sewing, or shopping (money, fractions, percents, decimals) I start to pay attention.  Looking back, I think that a lot of the reason I had so much difficulty with Algebra and Geometry is that the teachers never bothered to try to relate it to real life experiences. Now, if they had tried to teach me about geometry using quilting back in high school, I may have paid attention, but I am sure it would have been easier to understand than just the regular flat drawings on the paper.  This relates back to that home economics class, when I assume that these are the concepts that were most likely covered in a class like that.  I always told my husband that if he was teaching an Integrated Physics and Chemistry class, he should just relate everything to cooking and food, because that would make the students pay attention.  Oh, cooking is another part of the Home Ec class, I think. Think of all the math skills involved in cooking, measuring, accuracy, estimating, fractions, not to mention chemical reactions and science skills. For all those schools that are still teaching home economics classes, even if they are under a different name, good for you and I hope the teachers are incorporating all of this information into their lessons. Well, that’s just my opinion, until next time.

Happy Quilting/Sewing/Cooking,

Anna L.

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September 11, 2007. Uncategorized.

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