There has been a lot of talk recently about the “new curriculum” and how programs such as home economics will suffer from combining forces with technology education and business education into the umbrella of “Applied Skills.” The way I see it, the issue of whether or not to combine these subject areas is a bigger issue that boils down to the perceptions/mindsets of home economics teachers and whether they believe their programs should exist in isolation. For many of you that read my blog, you probably know my stance in all of this – the limitless possibilities of connection home economics has with every “subject area”.
Although I understand the concerns home economics educators have about their “programs” suffering due to enrolment and integrated applications, I also see the move towards a holistic view of applied skills as an opportunity for students and teachers to create authentic connections around their schools. Whether or not there will be standalone home economics classes or whether they will be part of a learning pod, there will always be a need for home economics and everyday life educators.
The perspective of home economists is invaluable, unique, and interconnected. From my perspective, there need not be a “content” focus for home economics courses – take a gander at the home economics IRP from 2007: there is little mention of specific content areas that need to be “covered.” Mind you, some of the language could be updated but it is possible to work in big questions from the current IRP as long as we broaden our view of what constitutes “food products,” “functions of ingredients,” and “construction basics” and co-create dynamic essential questions based on those ideas.
Therefore, I am calling for a change in the way we look at home economics classes. Focus and scope in home economics needs to transform – no, students do not all need (as prescribed by a teacher) to learn the muffin method of mixing and white sauce in the first two years of secondary school. No, students do not need to learn and communicate essential skills in the same way as everyone else. Rather, students need to experience and engage with topics in their daily lives such as food, consumption, and family, and use metacognitive skills to challenge their perspectives while creating opportunities to push their skills in essential tasks such as food awareness (including preparation), textile consumption (including design and construction), and interpersonal dynamics (including family issues). One of the ways I believe educators can shift their perspectives from prescribed content to metacognition skills is by shifting from content awareness to a pedagogical awareness. In other words, are we truly aware about what we are doing and communicating at a pedagogical level, or are we only aware of what we want to students to “cover” and “finish”? See my thoughts on this below: