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Should Schools Bring Back Home Economics?

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Should schools teach cooking? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Robert Frost, Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA, on Quora:

Should schools teach cooking? Yes. I think that Home Economics should be a standard part of the elementary, middle, and high school curriculum. The purpose of school is to provide children with skills and knowledge that will benefit them, and the community. We all eat. We all benefit from a better understanding of food and food preparation.

It's also a great place to show children how the skills and knowledge they learn in their academic course have real life value. Kids sit in classes like math, physics, geography, English, and chemistry and often are given little to no appreciation of how those subjects are useful outside of the classroom. But, they are all useful in the kitchen and grocery store.

In the kitchen, children can learn an appreciation for clarity in writing when they work from a poorly written recipe. They can apply math when upscaling or downscaling a recipe. Quick - if a recipe calls for 250 grams of steak and 350 milliliters of stock to serve two, how many grams of steak would be needed to use a one-liter carton of broth and how many people would that serve? They can exercise unit conversions when grandma's gravy recipe calls for 16 ounces of stock and two tablespoons of cornstarch, but all of the tools in the drawer are metric. They can appreciate chemistry and physics when learning the effects of certain ingredients. Quick - why does cornstarch thicken gravy? Why does the recipe tell us to add vinegar to meringue?

The educational system would work better if every academic class had a practical course that applied the theory to do something regular people do in real life.

Home economics teaches children to be savvy consumers. The kids can learn how to read labels and see through empty marketing. They can learn how to budget. They can learn to appreciate real food. Any child or teenager that is confident in the kitchen and has expanded their palate is less likely to become trapped in a life of junk food.

Home economics teaches attentiveness. It teaches safety. It teaches situation awareness. It shows patience. It teaches us the value of practice and planning. It shows respect for tools. It develops confidence and pride. It fosters deserved self-esteem. It practices teamwork. It fights sexism and class prejudice. It teaches appreciation for other cultures.

I believe society would benefit greatly if every kid had at least four years of home economics.

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