PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The concept of Home Economics was created in the late 1800s; and according to expert, Dr. Sally McCombie of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, it was given the negative term of “Stitchin’ and Stewin’.”
Of course, it was a time when women stayed at home and men were the bread winners.
“Then, the women’s movement came in the 70s,” Dr. McCombie told KDKA’s Heather Abraham during an interview at Indiana High School. “And that’s where we really saw a shift. We started to push women towards careers and getting them ready for careers.”
Dr. McCombie said what was lost after the movement were valuable life lessons.
There was the opinion that day-to-day responsibilities were something that would be taught at home, but that wasn’t necessarily true. Then, there was a push to modify home economics as it was and modernize it.
“In 1994, there was a big turnaround. We changed our name to Family and Consumer Sciences to better show what we do,” said Dr. McCombie.
At Indiana High School, students learn everything from caring for a life-like baby doll, to managing money, reading an apartment lease and getting car insurance. Junior Ryan Creps says he’s learned a lesson or two, even recently writing a check for his parents who needed his help.
“Being able to learn that here, it’s really valuable,” Creps said. “When I get to college, it will help out there. So I can eat healthier and know what to do.”
And that’s another thing that the schools now focus on. Healthier eating.
KDKA’s Heather Abraham saw a class in action as they made a healthier version of a blueberry muffin. The students substituted whole wheat flour and alternative fats to complete their own recipes.
Sarah Lonetti teaches a class dubbed ‘On Your Own’. She says she can’t even count the number of times a student has told her how much the life-lessons have helped.
“Homemaking is never going to quite go away,” Lonetti said. “It’s just that we’re doing it in a different way.”
Whether it be a busy parent, or a trouble family, Lonetti said that some students just aren’t learning these skills at home. Experts agree that even with a successful career, a stable home life is equally as important.
“We want them to be successful on both levels,” said Lonetti.
That’s where Family and Consumer Sciences plays a big role. Dr. McCombie says things have come a long way and Pennsylvania has some of the highest standards in the country for requiring FACS in schools.
She adds, though, that just like students are given standardized testing in English and math, she would like to see similar testing done to make sure students are really prepared for the real world problems.