I am getting ready to gradate my oldest son and send him off to college. It makes me reminisce about my college career. I started out as a business major at a small college in the middle of a forest. The classes were so boring I took as many textile classes as I could in order to stay sane. I took weaving, world textiles, sewing, … ANYTHING to help me through the pain of accounting! I ended up transferring to another college (one that wasn’t quite so far out in the boonies) and changed my major – to Home Economics. BUT I never told anyone I majored in Home Ec! Heaven forbid! I was majoring in textiles! Home Ec was old fashioned and out of date and that wasn’t me. I was just specializing in the type of business I was interested in, that’s all. There was this stupid class that they made me take. It was Home Ec 101. I of course put it off until my last year. This wasn’t a class for me. I wasn’t a home economist. I was going into a fabric oriented business. Or so I thought. Home Ec 101 changed my life.
This class was set up so different people from the world of home economics came and talked to us each day. It was a perfect class for a new college student to take. Why I waited so long to take it I don’t know. Anyway, one day a teacher came in to talk to us and she really spoke to my soul. You know what I mean — she touched my heart. Somehow I knew after hearing her speak that I had to teach. I don’t remember much about what she said but it was something about making a lasting impression on other peoples lives.
So, here I was almost DONE with my college experience and I suddenly get the inspiration to keep going! I didn’t want to teach kids – I wanted to teach adults who wanted to learn and if I was going to teach it was going to be something relating to my passion of textiles. I went on and got my masters degree so I could teach college.
The school I went to was in the process of changing their name from Home Economics. In fact, the first semester they insisted that I take a class in which one of my first assignments was to write a paper on what they should call this new department/college. I was excited about this assignment! I could get behind this! I could help figure out a new name to replace the old fashioned, out of date term of Home Ec that I was so reluctant to ever associate with!
But that is when it got hard. I started looking for a good term. I couldn’t find anything that worked. Everyone was going with things like “consumer science” and the like. That didn’t fit for me. We all were consumers but that term just sounded too cold and removed from what we really did. We were in the home making it better, looking at every facet and protecting and helping it. It was about families but not just families. A home was one person or it could be several people, even if they weren’t related. I ended up looking up and studying the two words “home” and “economics” to try to find new words to use. I couldn’t. Home Economics was the perfect term. It wasn’t old fashioned, it was just a term. Our homes were no longer just about women cooking and sewing. Our homes included so much more. I reluctantly wrote my paper on how we needed to keep the term “Home Economics” and just update its image. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen…
In the decades since I graduated from college most colleges have dropped their Home Economics departments. And look at the state of the American home today! We desperately need help! And the Home Economist is the perfect person to come to the rescue! But that is a story for another day….