What I learned in Home Economics class…
(This is a reprint of a 2011 blog, but with the weather changing and my mind turning toward home projects, it's surprisingly applicable.)
As a high school senior, I had two conflicting goals. One, I was going to get my degree in marketing and go work in NYC as a buyer in the fashion industry. The other, I was going to meet my Mr. Right and have twelve kids, being the perfect stay at home mom.
Neither plan came true. And for that, I bless the fates.
Why was I thinking about this? I’m a planner. I always have been. I planned my high school class schedule with a tight contingency plan. I had my fun classes – even then I knew I wasn’t going to be a musical prodigy, but I did work my way up to first chair – third position clarinet. But it was a small school.
When I wasn’t in Band class, I took college prep courses like Algebra – Geometry –and Algebra II – at which time I exceeded my math skills and finished my requirements. I took office occupation classes and found typing a chore – 55 words is my max before deducting for mistakes. Accounting however was a breeze and oddly, comforting in its rules and lines. I won first place in my district competition. An award that allowed me to go on to state, but I was already committed.
I was an officer in Future Homemakers of America organization. If you live in a rural area, you’re probably familiar with the brother organization, Future Farmers of America. At our school, the mainly boy group got all the cool stuff. But we were determined.
As an officer, I attended their district, state and national conventions. Funny thing is the conventions I attended as a youth; bear a striking resemblance to the business conventions I’ve attended as an adult.
I took at least one home-economics course each semester, cooking, baking, canning, sewing, and crafts. I learned how to sew, knit, crochet, can foods, and bake. I learned how to run a fund raiser – and in the club, I earn my service awards, setting goals and meeting them – to progress through the ranks. But instead of preparing me to be a homemaker, the time I spent in Mrs. Higgins’ classes prepared me for life.
I still have the small apron I made out of shared fabric with my best friend and her sister. I love seeing a row of canned peaches, sitting on my kitchen cupboard, cooling, their lids popping sealed. And I have made several baby blankets this spring, crocheting the pink or blue yarn into something that feels warm and heavy in my hand.
Learning to complete the task at hand. Learning to plan for the future. Learning to set goals. Learning how to fit into a world where I was different. All these were lessons I didn’t realize I was learning until years later.