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Home Ec or Home Economics?

If we could create a 4 year Home Economics high school program, what would it look like?

Photo of Darrick Hildman

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Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This would help high school students as they transition to adulthood and living on their own as financial citizens.

How is your idea specifically using the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources?

This is using schooling systems that are already in place, but focusing more on the bigger picture of success outside of highschool.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

There are a few programs out there that are already successful. Looking at the best practices would help. This is also a school budget and community will issue.

What skills, input or guidance might you be seeking from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Imagining what a successful program would include and intail.

This idea emerged from:

  • A student project or collaboration

For many, Home Ec (I didn't even know that the Ec stood for Economics till later in life) is a fun class where you learn how to sew and cook a little meal. For others, it is a class that prepared students for life outside of high school. 

So what if Home Economics could be more? Financial literacy and empowerment, home maintenance, car repair and driver's education, education on the local living economy, professionalism and career skills and exploration, interpersonal relationship skills, health and wellness including food, nutrition and cooking, shop, making and repairing, etc. 

This could easily be a 4 year program with the curriculum geared toward the students as they get closer to graduation. 

What are your thoughts on what this could look like?

18 comments

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Photo of Eliza Rosenbaum
Team

Darrick, your ideas have been phenomenal. We love how this one takes advantage of the broadest possible distribution channel for reaching young people (the school system), and it actually has a lot in common with Zoe Rose's Idea "Mock Stock" (https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/ideas/mock-stock). She has some similar ideas about how to engage students, and we think you guys could make a great team – especially given your first-hand experience as an educator. Feel free to also loop Will Fung in your discussion – he shared some similar ideas about a financial curriculum for classrooms. Thanks for being such a force in this challenge!

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

Here is an interesting article about Home Ec. It appears that it is still going fairly strong. Some of the main issues are lack of qualified teachers, the class may not be required, lack of data since it is not a priority, Family and consumer science finding it's place and message in the 21st century.

Curriculum does not seem to be a problam and classes seem to conver financial literacy.
https://www.aafcs.org/res/newsroom/JFCS_105-4_Werhan.pdf

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great conversations going on here Darrick! As this idea progresses, perhaps you might consider helping people better grasp how this idea could play out by describing some example scenarios which describe user journeys through some of the proposed activities you've outlined. Check this example: http://www.openideo.com/open/e-waste/concepting/neighbourhood-e-waste-champion/ where a few simple scenarios were created in an attempt to explain the goodness on the idea in a human-centered way. (You can update your entry at any time by hitting the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post.)

Photo of Teamfrcc
Team

I think that although it can be hard to keep a curriculum up to date with technology certain more general themes are universally helpful such as teaching the benefits of more modest living. For example, frugal eating doesn't have to be eating stingily... teaching skill like meal planning and shopping list creation relating the positives of doing so is a skill many people lack. It could be made "cool" to cook, in my personal experience people who are able to cook well are admired by others for that skill. Other things that you normally wouldn't think of for home economics classes could also include homei nsulation and heating/cooling strategies. Balancing a checkbook is out of date but financial lessons including wealth building strategies such as investment, structured savings accounts, and the dangers of indebtedness could also be taught. Living within our means seems to have gone by the wayside in our country, I consider myself to be within a poorer level of society but i have a house, a computer, the ability to produce music and movies, some savings, the internet, a digital camera, a video game system, and a fancy mountain bike. All of those things used to be luxuries, and somehow people got by without them. I think home economics courses should stress the importance of creating a sustainable lifestyle which provides security for the individual.

Photo of Trevor z Hallstein
Team

Hi Darrick,

Do you have a sense for what curriculum you would want to use, what are the age-appropriate categories to cover, and what tools could be used to complement the course? During the research phase, there were many examples of possible courses and programs that could be leveraged for the idea you have in mind. The difficulty for a variety of these programs seemed to be around keeping the material current and relevant as well as making it accessible to students.

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

Thanks for your questions Trevor. I think it starts with the students. Seeing what financial skills and knowledge they need when is a big part of it. If you are teaching a freshman about checkbooks, it is probably too early and they don't care so they have to relearn it.

As far as curriculum, I am sure there are probably already some good classes out there and some good examples. I think if the class is topical versus being taught from a textbook, it is easier to be flexible and current. If the topic is about Shelter, then lessons can be created around, local rentals, homes, buying homes, loans, roommates, bills, deposits, etc. or if it is Jobs, then same thing, curriculum could include internships, taxes, income, budgeting, exploring local businesses, starting a business and the local economy.

I think the curriculum could be fabulous, it is the other hoops of creating change in the school system that is a huge challenge. This project would also take a lot more specific research.

Photo of Tori Adele Signorelli
Team

Hi Darrick,

Here is a link that may aid in curriculum ideas. The Ohio State University developed a program called Real Money. Real World that includes a spending simulation. It's not a full course for a full year, but there may be some ideas that could be expanded. They've done a lot of research on age-appropriate subject matter. http://realmoneyrealworld.osu.edu/

Photo of Maddie Wiener
Team

I just read this stat and immediately thought of your post:

"Only 5 percent say they were taught about money by a teacher, and 40 percent say they would give themselves C's, D's and F's on their grasp of personal finance concepts. A full 85 percent of American parents believe that financial education courses should be a requirement for high school graduation. And 52 percent of teenagers want to learn more about money, and they're most interested in budgeting, saving and investing." http://www.dailyfinance.com/2014/04/18/the-scary-state-of-financial-literacy-in-america/

If so many people want financial education in school. Let's figure out a way to make it happen!

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

Maddie, great numbers. I have a feeling this is probably a complex issue that has to do with College prep, STEM, the amount of credits allowed, money and politics. I had a thought the other day how this issue seems like it would be supported from the Democrats, and it could be supported by Republicans if it is framed as a way to help keep folks out of welfare programs. I need do more research on the history of Home Ec, what it looks like, where and how it is successful, and the hurdles it has run into over the years. I don't know if that would be in the next stage or here.

Photo of David
Team

Darrick,

I believe this idea builds on some of the research phase discussions regarding incorporating financial literacy and education into the school systems so the community forces students to learn basic financial knowledge and better prepare them for the real world. (Credit Cards, Balancing a Checkbook, Student Loans, Car Insurance etc.) I think this is a great idea, and perhaps it could be morphed or combined with other courses that are offered at different schools. I'm not sure of any high school student would be thrilled with having "Home Ec" for four years based on the way the course is currently structured. But if you could incorporate the class into say managing the school store and running its finances, or add a business twist, I think it could be successful. Perhaps rather than 4 years of this it would make sense to have this as a requirement during your Junior year of high school, so the skills of the student would be more developed and they would more easily understand some of the complex financial terms.

Keep up with the ideas!

Best,

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

That is a great idea to incorporate the class with either service learning or working with businesses at school or out of school.

Photo of Maddie Wiener
Team

Really good idea! I think even just a semester class could suffice, especially if students were to work with businesses, or maybe even credit unions. As long as they are getting real life experience with finances and monetary issues I think it could be great.

There is also such a difference between learning about finances from a textbook and learning about money from real life experiences . As such, it could really powerful and a great learning tool to combine textbook learning in a classroom with real life experiences working with finances in a business. This Home Ec class could touch on both.

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great discussion, guys! – As this idea develops, be sure to incorporate any feedback & new thoughts that you're keen on into your actual concept post to acknowledge your idea is evolving through these collaborative conversations. Looking forward to seeing where things go!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Maddie Wiener
Team

Great stuff, Darrick! I think you may be on to something - high school is such an important time to teach this sort of stuff. I have a couple questions that could help further this idea:

- You said that “there are a few programs that are already successful?” Do you know what these programs are? Can you identify what makes them successful?
- I would guess that a big determinant of the success of this 4-year program would be how the schools frame this class to students. In my opinion, what makes Home Ed classes fun and successful is that they’re hands on, and it doesn’t seem like the traditional book-reading, test-taking education. How could you make Home Ec classes about financial education more hands on? Have you thought about some sort of interactive game, like life-size monopoly?

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this develops. I would love to hear more of your ideas about the specifics about the program, especially since you already work directly with students!

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

Hi Maddie, I teach at a local community college and each semester we have a little forum on the purpose of k-12 education. We usually end up talking about how most of the students wish they had a personal finance class or other skills like described above. I usually have one or two students that say they did have a class like that and that they thought it was super helpful.

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

I think the topics make this a hands-on class. High school is a time when students are learning to drive (insurance, car payments, repair) may be getting their first job (budgeting, spending, saving, investing, etc.) and graduating and either finding their own place or going off to college (credit cards, rent, home purchase, food, bills etc.) These are very real things that can one be scaffolded out depending on the student's needs as they move toward graduation, but could be very hands on as the class goes out and explores jobs, housing, higher ed and money.

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

I'm digging this thought starter Darrick! I remember Home Ec was the class where a lot of miscellaneous education fell in school. It was also one of the few times during the day when students can get out of their seats to participate in activities. Building on the hands-on nature of Home Ec, it'd be interesting to explore how financial literacy can be redesigned to be more interactive for students in the classroom setting.

This could be an opportunity to really rethink what a financial eduction curriculum is and how it could fit into traditional classroom settings. Here are a couple of great inspirations that you might be interested in building on! https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/research/replicating-the-model-of-sole-self-organised-learning-environments-for-developing-a-foundation-in-financial-literacy
https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/research/teaching-students-to-ask-their-own-questions