Although I probably would have skipped it a la Physical Education.
But now that I’m 22-almost-23, struggling with adulting like any millennial worth their salt, and patiently waiting for my copy of ‘Investing in Your 20s and 30s for Dummies’ from the library, I’m wishing high school had done more to prepare me for the simple facts and tasks of everyday life.
I’m not one of those students who begrudges time spent learning about the French Revolution (still some of the most interesting shit ever), Trig-PreCal, or even Socratic circles (although I do question whether spending hours copying definitions from the back of the Trig textbook was really a good use of my time, Mrs.C!)- but some old school advice would have been excellent.
Here’ my wish list for an ideal Home Ec course (required for every student, regardless of gender):
- Financial management and planning: paying bills, budgeting, saving for big expenditures and retirement, investing in your 20s and 30s as well as later in life (don’t worry, there’s a For Dummies book for that one too).
- Cooking: I’m a chef par excellence, but in my opinion everyone needs to know a bit more than how to make a sandwich. It’s especially important in a low-income community (like mine) because cooking and eating at home is so much less expensive than eating out- and buying ingredients in bulk to make dishes from scratch is less expensive (and healthier) than processed foods.
- Cleaning: Would make college life with roommates, dorm-mates, and those guys across the hall who share your bathroom much easier.
- Comprehensive European-style sexual education: Beyond the American basics, prudish even in liberal Massachusetts (we are descended from the Puritans, after all), I want discussions on navigating relationships, domestic abuse, masturbation, and sexual compatability (and let’s be honest- there’s an ocean of sexual or sex-adjacent topics that it would be good for teens to know and that they’re not going to get bored learning about).
- Parenting: Different styles and philosophies, keeping your baby happy and healthy, the basics of childcare so that both parents can partake equally (and so that people can consciously choose how to raise their children rather than falling into the patterns of their parents).
- Sewing/mending/handiwork: The benefits of knitting should be mysteries to none and everyone should be able to mend their own pocket holes/reattach their own buttons.
- Basic handy(wo)man stuff
- Diet and Exercise
- Navigating the workplace: From writing a decent email to networking to successfully advocating for yourself.
- And let’s just throw in basic massage technique, because there is nothing a hard-working adult needs more than a massage!
What am I missing?
An aside on physical education in high school, only to excuse/redeem myself: Throughout high school I was working on recovering from anorexia so exercise was pretty touchy. My activity amount was under review by my doctor and parents, but unchaperoned exercise was off the table. Instead of giving up the physical exertion that gave me happiness and my life meaning (weekly riding lessons, hours or significantly active volunteer work, and more-than-weekly dance classes), I got a doctor’s note to excuse myself from high school PE. Which also enabled borderline OCD me to get a higher GPA by taking a higher proportion of honors and AP courses.