What’s New in Home Economics?

What’s New in Home Economics?

If you ever took a class in Home Economics in High School or Junior High, you might have images of muffins or snickerdoodles. But the classes have changed over the years.

Becky Low, from the Utah Dairy Farmers, used to be a Home Economics teacher and she went back to school to see what’s new.


It’s been a few years since I managed a Home Ec class, so to prepare I went back to school! and here’s what I learned:

– Name change. Now called FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences)

– Career Emphasis. “Our focus has never changed, it is still families and strengthening them. We emphasize careers more than in the past. We help students learn to balance family and careers. If we compare FACS to TV, we are the food network, super nanny, Dr. Phil, HGTV, modern family, parenthood, and we teach skills that would be of benefit on Survivor and Big Brother.” Becky Cox, Lone Peak High School

– Content. Course content is no longer how to make the perfect muffin but it teaches students critical thinking, problem solving, team work and decision making skills. For example in Recycle and Redesign students are taught about dress and humanity, the influence of history and culture on dress, and sustainable environments. Take a look at these two dresses designed by students using recycled materials. the dress on the left made from ties represents clothing in the 50’s and the dress on the right representing 1940’s fashion is made from a tablecloth.

– Curriculum. For example – classroom studies team up with industry in programs like ProStart. ProStart is an entire curriculum where students learn skills, design, budget, economics – and confidence. ProStart students compete locally and nationally. Provo High students Dylan, Matt, Thomas, and Caroline using their combined skills won the Utah ProStart competition and are currently in Kansas City at the National ProStart Invitational. ProStart is only 10 years old but has had phenomenal results preparing students for work – for a career. Even if students do not follow a food service career they have developed transferrable skills they can use for any career they choose – plus valuable skills for home and pleasure.

The ProStart competition show cases the skills students have developed. The team prepares a salad, entrée, and dessert in 60 minutes. I watched them practice Monday after school and was amazed. One recipe the Provo High Team entered is a Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta – that is to die for – in taste and looks. Their recipe included cooking methods steeping, sautéing, deep fat frying, jam, and candy making. They refined their skills handling delicate Lumpia Pastry Wrappers to create a apple pie; made fragile Lavender Candy; chopped up Parmesan tuiles for crumble and topped their delicate panna cotta with perfect quenelles made from Mixed Berry mousse (okay, I’m not so good at quenelles).

Then I watched their knife skills chopping, mincing, and fabricating chicken. What is fabricating a chicken? Cutting the chicken up into usable parts. We take for granted the task is already completed for us at the supermarket – this skill alone is a great cost savings.

– Academic Integration. Students integrate academic disciplines through CTSO – Career Technical Student Organizations. For example the following academic disciplines helped create the winning team for Provo High School.

Ag & Horticulture. Students compost scraps from their labs, which are added to saw dust from the industrial arts program and used by horticulture students in the school garden – which grew the Watermelon radishes and arugula used by the students in their spring salad.

Art department. Marketing class, photo shop were employed to design and create the menu board.

English Department. Proofed and edited content from recipes to menu board

Math skills. Students price out individual ingredients, figure units used, price per unit, recipe cost, and calculate menu price – which, by the way, you may expect to pay $11.50 for their delicious dessert.

Home Economics -FACS -has adapted to changes in society and families. They address critical current issues (ie childhood obesity, sustainable living, self reliance). Students learn to cope with crisis, set goals, plan for their future and enhance their lives…some of the topics and projects might become hobbies, some careers and some just common sense skills we all need in everyday living.

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