It’s Not Gone – Just Renamed!
If any of you spend a little time on social media (Facebook), you have probably seen the post called, “Bring back home economics.” This always draws a frown on my face, because it is still being taught! Back in the old days, these classes were called Homemaking. That term changed to Home Economics, and now the current terminology is Family & Consumer Sciences, because it encompasses so much more than cooking and sewing. Actually, many high schools and colleges teach classes in sewing/pattern design/tailoring, food preparation/culinary arts/dietetics, child care and development, interior design, hospitality, nursing, etc.
My college major was general family & consumer sciences and education, with emphasis in clothing and textiles. If you think about it, without family & consumer sciences, we wouldn’t have clothes to wear (fibers have to be spun or poured to make yarns, then the yarns have to be woven or knit to make fabric, and then the fabric has to be cut and sewn to make clothing.) And what about our food? We should be grateful to our farmers and ranchers who provide produce, meats and grains for our food supply. We should also be thankful for people who take those foods and prepare and package them for human consumption. Once those foods make it to your pantry or refrigerator, it is up to you to know how to keep those foods safe and how to prepare them for eating.
Do you enjoy eating out? Culinary arts play a major role in your meal…from purchasing from a distributor, to storage, to preparing, to serving – all while following guidelines for proper temperature control, sanitation, and serving.
Do you enjoy traveling and staying in hotels? Hospitality is another area of Family & Consumer Sciences. Event planning, housekeeping, interior design, and food service all play a part in helping you have an enjoyable visit.
Have you ever sent a child to a daycare center, church nursery, Mother’s Day Out, or other similar facility? This is where childcare and development come into focus. Staff in these locations have been trained to provide experiences for children that are age-appropriate – from toys, to story books, to nap time – all geared for specific ages. Children develop at different paces, and workers should be attune to those variances.
Health and wellness (one of my favorite topics) are a major part of family & consumer sciences. From the foods we eat to our daily living habits, our lives are greatly affected by the choices we make. Dietitians help individuals with specific dietary needs. Physical therapists help individuals regain mobility after surgery or injury, or help individuals maintain a certain level of fitness and abilities.
Through our Hopkins County 4-H program, we work with youth in the foods and clothing projects. Each year, we provide a Foods Fun Day which focuses on food safety, kitchen safety, and hands-on food preparation. Part of the workshop is teaching youth how to read a recipe, substitute ingredients, and prepare a finished dish. In October, I introduced a gadget that drew lots of interest – a spiralizer. The 4-H members made applesauce and muffins using the spiralizer and measuring techniques. They learn the difference between a teaspoon and tablespoon, liquid measuring cup and dry measuring cup, how to use a food thermometer, and more. The 4-H Food Show and Food Challenge are two events in which 4-H’ers can compete with others across the northeast Texas district, as well as at major livestock show events.
In the 4-H clothing and textiles project, we teach the 4-H’ers how to thread a sewing machine, fill the bobbin, and how to operate the sewing machine, how to sew on a button, and much more. We have a fun day planned for Saturday, January 25, for our “Quilts Across the County” project. I will teach a simple quilt block and guide the 4-H’ers in making their own quilt blocks to make a pillow, table runner, lap quilt, or larger quilt. Using a rotary cutter will be a new skill for many of the youth. The 4-H Fashion Show provides the opportunity for youth to showcase their sewing skills or consumer clothing buying skills in competition on the local and district levels.
The 4-H Consumer Decision Making event is another powerful skill enhancer for youth. We all make decisions every day – what to wear, what to eat, what items we need to purchase. This event trains 4-H youth to weigh the choices and make the best decision based on the need. Our 4-H Consumer Decision Making team participated on the district level, as well as at major livestock show contests.
Through all these workshops, projects, and events, we instill in our 4-H’ers the importance of being courteous, respectful, helpful, honest, and responsible.
So, homemaking is not lost – just renamed! For more information on Family & Consumer Sciences careers or our Hopkins County 4-H program, call the Hopkins County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at 903-885-3443, and we’ll be glad to visit with you.
Live a life worthy of observation. You never know who might be watching. -Hannah Easdon (my mom)
Article by Johanna Hicks, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Family & Community Health Agent