Today Morning Living's producer Jennifer and engineer Steve put on their boxing gloves and duked it out in a very back-to-school debate: Which class is more important? Home Economics or Shop? What do you think? Vote in the poll below and read their arguments!
Home Ec Is Where my Heart Is
Jennifer Sendrow, producer for "Morning Living" and "Whole Living"
Since it’s Back-to-School week, here’s a history lesson: Home Economics classes come from a social movement in the late 19th century that aimed to elevate domestic work to valued professional status and apply modern science to perfect its methods. True to those progressive roots, today’s Home Ec classes are designed to produce men and women equally able to do the everyday work of cooking, sewing, and laundry as well as performing basic first aid and creating a household budget. Teaching practical skills and enlightened attitudes about gender roles is what Home Ec is all about. Shop is about…simulating factory work?
Many parents are willing and able to teach domestic skills to their children, but there are a great many that can’t, don’t, or only think to teach such skills to daughters. While people usually get by just fine without learning to sew or becoming experts in stain removal (after all, they can just go to marthastewart.com!), learning to cook is not just a useful skill, it could save your life. It is no coincidence that as Americans started dining out more often and relying on pre-packaged foods that our childhood obesity rates have tripled to match the current adult rate of 1 in 5, triggering an unprecedented health crisis. Doctors, nutritionists, and seasonal eating advocates like Martha Stewart all agree on a cure: make food yourself, and make it fresh. You could learn to cook by watching Martha, but a formal class in the formative years would surely be a great help.
Home Ec is not just a class, it’s a movement. It empowers you to become a creator, not just a consumer. It encourages you to be thrifty and resourceful, a self-sufficient person with no need to hire housecleaners, tailors, and repairmen for every household task. We all have to keep house and get food on the table, but most of us are perfectly happy to leave wood crafting to skilled artisans (or maybe to Ikea). It’s time to close up Shop, and go Home Ec!
You can't top shop!
Steve Gonzalez, engineer for "Morning Living" and "Whole Living"
Shop Class, or classified today as Industrial Arts, expose children to the basics of home repair, manual craftsmanship and machine safety. Offering them something we all need: life skills! Skills that come in handy as a homeowner and propel students into careers such as plumbing, engineering, and architecture.
These programs offer students a window into something other than algebra and single-file rows of desk all day long. With the evolution of technology “Shop” classes no longer just teach how to change oil or hammer out a dent, students use computer diagnostic equipment to fix cars, and learn the green technologies of hybrid vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells. Today’s classes incorporate a range of abilities widely promoted as “21st-century skills”, involving technology, communication and collaboration. Courses range from ornamental horticulture and graphic arts to welding and even old-fashioned auto shop. These types of programs reach out to students that may have lost their way in traditional classes.
Shop class not only provides children with skills for their personal lives, but aims to give students job training, exposure to new technologies, and windows into different careers. If your oven or sewing machine breaks, you won’t know how to fix it. Who will? Someone who took shop! And the “blue collar” industry -- which includes careers as an electrician and plumber as well as a police officer and fireman -- are in demand. These careers are shown as really a good, viable option with good benefits.
We can’t afford to leave any students unprepared. Without showing younger generations how to work with their hands, we are creating a generation that is incapable of doing anything for themselves. You would be amazed at how many kids are challenged by problem-solving and figuring things out for themselves. Can they figure out how to reach the next level in a video game? Absolutely! But ask them to change a tire or fix a bike chain and their response is to get a new bike. While shop class can make a better more well rounded individual, it can also be a path to a well-paid profession.