Home Economics classes are not just about cooking and sewing. The majority of people I talk to often say “oh that’s fun” or “I didn’t know they still had that” when I tell them I’m a home economics/foods and nutrition/family studies teacher. From the outside, people see the products that come out of our classrooms – the beautiful fondant cakes, the food for luncheons, spring barbecues, trendy plated meals, and sometimes – the dreaded muffin or baking powder biscuit. However, once one has opened their eyes in a home economics class, one starts to realize that the classes are more to do with the intricacies of interpersonal dynamics and exploratory learning than anything else. The products that people post on Instagram, Twitter, and the photos that people favourite or like are just the end result of a process of design, creation, group dynamics, organization, timing, adaptation, flexibility and the list can go on and on. As one can see, the importance of home economics classes extends far from the superficial and technical skills – it develops (and sometimes introduces) the aspects and experiences of life that students need in order to function together AND alone.
The reality is that a lot of parents are not able to take the time out of their days and weekends to cook with their children. Cooking and eating has become a chore, one of the humps to get over in a day so that one can survive and nourish one’s body. I had the privilege of growing up in a household where food was the centre of many interactions – family dinners, potlucks with friends, barbecues on the weekend. I gained most of my socialization and skills from cooking with others. However, when the main aspect of meals becomes convenience, we run into issues around food choice and lack of consumer education. So how do we start cooking together? How do we make smart food choices with our families? Why are teaching kitchens and chef education programs in secondary schools being replaced by heat-and-serve companies?
One of the groups that has embraced the importance of cooking together is Better Together, a part of BC Dairy. This year, I have been asked to be a spokesperson for their contest – “The Hands-on Cook-off”. The contest runs from April 15 – May 15, 2015 and asks kids, youth, and adults to film themselves making a recipe together and showing how fun it can be to work together. Studies show that eating and cooking together is very much linked to increased social adaptability, academic achievement, and physical and mental health – another reason for home economics classes! My personal hope has always been that home economics classes will empower students to bring home valuable lessons and experiences to share with their families. Nothing makes me more happy than hearing that a student recreated something they did in class at home!
This week my student teacher Ms. Kestell will be working with her Foods and Nutrition 8 class to create videos using the guidelines and philosophy of The Hands-on Cook-off . Merging it with our guiding question “What leads to healthy eating?” we wish that our students will find a way to inspire others to cook together and have fun (maybe even learning something about themselves along the way!). Even though the video will be filmed using iPads, one of the key messages will be the importance of not only cooking but eating together (face to face, “unplugged,” without devices).
I’m very excited to see how these videos and projects turn out at the end of the week! We are hosting media this Wednesday (April 15) to kick off the contest and we look forward to inviting all of you into our classroom!
For more information:
Prizes: $1000 cash plus other cash prizes… PLUS you’ll make some lifelong memories!