Life Skills I Wish I Would Have Learned In Home Ec

March 09, 2015

i guess i should preface this by saying that no school i ever went to actually offered home ec.  is that still a thing?  does it exist?  i went to private catholic all girls school, so it was all 'rah rah girls are better, they can do anything boys can including math and science and you don't need things like cooking and sewing.'  which is great since i, you know, got a law degree but still... i kind of need to know how to sew things.  why couldn't i have learned both?

anyway, the skills i really wished i would have been taught in school (because i've used trig exactly never):

budgeting.  how did i take algebra, trig, geometry, whatever else they teach and yet no one teaches you how to balance a checkbook?  budgeting is a basic i had to figure out all on my own.  wish someone would have taught me before getting a real live paycheck.

laundry.  although i suppose this could have been taught by my mom as well, and ideally at some point before the day i moved into the dorms.  but thanks mom, for the 18+ prior years of doing all my laundry.  i still only have the basics down though.  and like i said, i can't sew!  there's a lot of shirts and pants i could have saved over the years if i knew how to patch a hole.

cooking.  that doesn't involve a microwave.  people may put this in the 'mom should have taught you' category, but my mom can't cook either.  we're bakers.  and we don't eat meat so i have no idea what to do with a chunk of raw, slimy chicken.  and if we're being honest, i'm still a little afraid of the oven and could use a lesson in 'how not to burn yourself when inserting and removing things from the fiery convection of doom.'

self defense.  so glad iowa offered this, even as just an in-house demonstration for sorority girls.  i think it should be taught in high schools too.  especially my all girls school, where were you on that?!  and with it should come a lesson on being safe in college and how to watch for warning signs.

maps and directions.  if my cell phone signal goes out and i can't connect to google maps, i'm a lost little puppy anywhere outside of the chicago area.  seriously, if i can't see a chicago street sign, i can't tell you which way is north.  i mean really, people look at an extra bright star and can tell you which way to go?  that's crazy.  also, you can't see stars downtown.  with a little effort i can figure out a map, but it does not come easily.  and i definitely can't fold it back up nicely because proper map folding is witchcraft.

i can't be the only one.  what life skill do you wish you learned in school that they never taught?

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60 comments

  1. I actually wish all high schools would mandate a Life Skills 101 class that would include all these things and teach students how to register to vote, how to open a bank account, how to buy a car, and all those other skills that no one really learns!

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  2. I am screwed when it comes to the real world. Where were things like checking vs savings, loans, retirement accounts, how to buy a car or a house...you know those things we actually do ALL the time? But naw, I spent my high school years learning how to find the angle of a damn triangle. Glad to know the only career they prepared me for was McGyver.

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  3. My school didn't offer anything like that either. And I think when I have children, I'm gonna push for it in schools. I sure as hell wish I would've had the opportunity!

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  4. our home ec was awesome! we learned most of these except laundry and self-defence. i remember a project where we had to keep a budget and take care of a "child"; that child was an egg or some kind of toy. we were assigned a monthly income and expenses that had to be "paid" out of that income and basically, we had to budget everything in order to keep the lights on, clothes on your "child" etc. it was a good lesson!


    we also had a cooking phase - we'd make easy things like pancakes or eggs and cakes etc but at least it taught the kids how to use the stove!

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  5. Finding an apartment, or a car! The first time you go to buy something like that your eyes bug out.

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  6. Budgeting and finances in general would have been good. I know we did some, like balancing a check book but it was pretty slim.

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  7. someone taught me budgeting in 6th grade and I still managed to f it up as an adult. But that goes back to the philosophical question of 18-21 begin actual adulthood.

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  8. Haha, I had home ec and all we did was baking..

    I think you should learn things like - do not mix these cleaning fluids or you will gas yourself - and - how to put out an electrical/oil fire - and - don't leave your laptop on a soft surface - and other such practical safely tips. I grew up without a mum and my first boyfriend basically taught me everything I know about house stuff.. he thought it was hysterical that I was too scared to turn the cooker on!

    Some schools do offer something called consumer maths - which looks at interest rates on credit cards etc but I guess it's down to location and luck!


    Erin
    www.minimalisterin.co

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  9. I have said many many times that in high school all students should be required to learn about budgeting, student loans, interest rates, credit cards, applying for a mortgage, what your credit score means and how to fix it/keep it high. Kids should be taught what depreciation on a vehicle looks like, how tickets directly affect your car insurance, etc. The sad truth is that "your parent's should teach you" doesn't work because a. parents don't know, b. parents don't have time. My parents couldn't have taught me a darned thing worth knowing financially, so everything I know I've had to learn on my own. It's infuriating that we're unleashing 18 year olds on the world not knowing how quickly things can get out of hand financially, and with no skills to fix it.

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  10. Micah @ Unabashedly MeMarch 10, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    Budgeting really needs to be part of school curriculum. And maybe even a more general one of financial health. Teach people how to use credit cards wisely, prepare for student loans, etc. I so wish I'd learned all of those things.


    Also, we kind of learned to sew in my home ec class, but I have completely forgotten. I can't even secure a button. :-/

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  11. Budgeting, definitely! It would have saved me years of heartache and brokeness if I had learned budgeting in my youth.


    The laundry thing, though...My mom made me start doing my own when I was 12, so I've definitely got that down!

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  12. I couldn't agree more with you on these! You'd think high schools would put together a Life 101 type class vs. forcing us to take so many irrelevant ones!

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  13. Oh it drives me so, so, SO crazy that there's no basic personal finance education offered in high school. If nothing else, roll it into the math curriculum for one semester or something. It's insane how ill-prepared most people are to handle their finances as an adult and frustrates me so much. Self-defense too. How simple would it be to include it as a unit in phys. ed classes or something? Preach.

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  14. I actually did take home ec, but I retained nothing. I wish I could sew and knit.

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  15. I'm going to go with your answer, balancing a check book, because no one teaches you that shit OR alternatively, for me personally, I went to French school and I feel like there was little to no education on English grammer, hence why I sometimes sound like a tool. :)
    Do you practice in-house or for a firm? Just curious. I used to want to be a lawyer but changed my mind when my mom had cancer in 2003. That changed everything. Instead, I went to school for law clerk and court and tribunal agent afterwards. Worked for a lawyer at a big firm for 5 years, he was in the investment funds/securities area and I was burning out so I decided I either had to leave and find something else or I would have likely had a nervous breakdown or heart attack. My boss was good to be but in the end, I got tired of being his sounding board. I moved on to greener pastures and it's been almost 5 years now that I've been at a securities regulator and it's SO.MUCH.BETTER.
    I meant to comment last week on your blog but got distracted. Just wanted to say hey and I look forward to getting to know you more/better. ;)
    xo
    Lindsay
    www.theflynnigans.com

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  16. I went to public school in Arkansas and we had to take home ec in 8th grade. Of course I don't actually remember anything I learned, but I do still have the tote bag that I made...

    -Heather
    I do what I want.

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  17. I went to an all girls catholic school as well ... hence I totally sucked at all the above as well. I think Im ok with laundry now (it calms me) but everything else ... Im still learning.

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  18. Budgeting of course. I'm all set on cooking, laundry (instructions are on the lid) and sewing (self-taught) but self defense is a good one!

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  19. I didn't take home ec. I'm not sure if its even offered anymore. I'm a terrible cook. But I did teach myself how to do laundry and to do basic sewing because my mom never did and I liked having clean clothes.

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  20. some sort of "courtesy counts" class, especially if you live in a major city. waiting for people to get off the train before you crowd on, giving your seat to someone older, keeping to the right on the sidewalk/escalator, not walking w/ your giant ass umbrella spear about to poke me in the eye. come on, these are common sense, but no one seems to abide by them, and maybe if people learned them in high school I wouldn't be so grumpy at the end of my commute. sorry, rant over!

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  21. My high school actually had home ec, so I did take a cooking class and a sewing class. Benefits of going to a really large school.

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  22. I had home ec in middle school and in high school, it was an elective. I elected not to take it and it was a bit of a mistake because I couldn't cook until I was in my 20s and that was from necessity. Same with budgeting. I still can't sew anything except a button.

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  23. WHY is budgeting not a part of math skills? It should be.

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  24. I can't cook or sew. I'm pretty good with directions. I finally got over the fact that my mom wanted to pass down her lack of direction to me and put on my big girl panties and found my way around.

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  25. Seriously self-defense or even just safety awareness. Seeing all these missing girls from colleges breaks my heart. I know I've been in some pretty close calls where it could have gone wrong quickly. I wish there was better awareness about just being aware of your surroundings and making sure you have someone who knows where you're going and when you should be back.

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  26. I agree on the budgeting and checkbook. Some people don't even know how to write checks. What!?

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  27. They really need to! I opened a bank account when I got to college, but my mom was there to help. I was super confused! Couldn't even remember my social security number.

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  28. Hahaha truth. High school prepared me for nothing. I remember making a mini Globe theater for a project in Brit Lit. Why?! No idea how to set up stock market or savings accounts, but I can make mini dioramas out of toothpicks and marshmallows. Super.

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  29. I would be in a much better place if they had! I learned so much useless crap but no life skills I actually need today.

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  30. I can wash and dry, but I don't know things like how to not fade your jeans or how to get various stains out. I would have liked to learn at some point!

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  31. Man! CANADA. Why must you be so much better at things than us?! We had nothing like that, I'm totally jealous of you. Such a smart idea.

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  32. I still haven't bought a car, I hope I never have to. But yes to both! College aged kids are so not equipped to handle that on their own.

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  33. I don't remember anything related to finances unless my parents tried. Would have been a lot more useful than the quadratic equation, that's for sure.

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  34. I'm not sure I retained anything in 6th grade, let alone budgeting. But I think if it was taught in high school, even senior year, it would be remembered when kids go off to college and have to figure out pizza and beer money.

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  35. I would have loved a consumer maths option! That would have been so helpful.

    Um... I still don't know which cleaning fluids not to mix or how to put out various fires. I should probably go look that up right now...

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  36. It's why so many people are in debt. I read 'getting out of debt' blogs at a lot and I'm totally mesmerized by the messes people get into. Student loan debt I get (still so crappy) but when people have 20k in debt because they messed up with buying cars and houses etc etc on credit, then I wonder how much of that could be prevented with a basic skills course taught in high school. bad finances spiral out of control SO fast and college aged kids and even adults are not able to handle it!

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  37. I have taken many a garment to a tailor to have them sew back on a button. You're not alone.
    I think it would make a great pre-college skills class. That's when you take out loans and credit cards, so you might as well prepare these kids before they're saddled with debt they can never pay off.

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  38. I could have definitely used a course in high school. I overdrafted so many times in college but my parents always bailed me out. Most kids aren't so lucky.
    Bless my mom, she always did it all herself! But now I don't know how to get stains out, so maybe it backfired a little.

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  39. Yes! I have so much useless knowledge in my head, but my IRA? Couldn't even tell you how it works. It's sad, really.

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  40. The ability to sew the basics would be so helpful. I just take everything to a tailor get rid of it.

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  41. Would have been a way better use of my time than those few weeks we learned badminton, I'll tell you that. Thank god my sorority provided the training, but even then, it's a little late for some girls. It should be more widespread and taught earlier.
    I learned NOTHING in algebra 2. Nothing. We could have easily spent a few weeks on finances but I distinctly remember doing something with m&ms. yes, in high school. Fail.

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  42. Thanks for stopping by Lindsay, nice to meet you! I work for a firm, I've been at the same place since I graduated (2010.) I kind of want to move on but I don't really know what I want to do! Some form of legal work that doesn't involve as much client interaction as I have now, because divorce clients are crazy. I could definitely see myself getting burnt out here, it's exhausting some days.
    I think if I were to go back to the time of college, I wouldn't choose law school. I just do NOT love being a lawyer, even though I'm pretty good at it. Not a clue what I would do instead though!

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  43. haha! You kept it all these years! I never made anything. I'm not at all crafty. I doubt I would have retained anything from 8th grade, but probably doing it in high school would have been beneficial.

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  44. I appreciate that they value education so highly and push girls into real careers and such, but I think we could have learned the valuable life skills at the same time. We're smart.

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  45. I can't get anything past the lid instructions :( Like specific stain removal or sewing. Self-taught is impressive. I think I tried once and stabbed myself with the needle and quit...

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  46. My mom definitely spoiled me, doing the laundry all those years. I still take some stuff to her house, like my duvet. How does one wash that, I mean really. It's huge.

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  47. UGH so true. So many times I've given up my seat and I was the only one to even offer. I saw a girl in her 20s today give up her seat to an older lady, while the 3 20 to 30 something guys next to her just sat there. Are you kidding?! Where are your manners, men? There really does need to be a commuter class, people suck.
    Oh also in Chicago - DON'T PEE ON THE TRAIN. Never seems to click...

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  48. Lucky! I wish I could have had some education in that, but my small school had nothing :(

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  49. It really should! It's not even complicated once someone teaches you either, it's not like a regular math teacher couldn't do it.

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  50. I can't even sew a button, so you're ahead of me. It was offered to me, but I don't even know if I would have been smart enough to take it if it wasn't forced. But when you're an adult you realize how important it is!

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  51. Ahh so you're in the family law area of practice. I bet that's interesting but you see such an ugly side of people, too. I guess in some respects it makes you pause and reflect on your own life and how good it is.
    If I could go back, I'd become a biologist I think and move to Kenya and spend the rest of my days with elephants. I honestly feel more comfortable and myself around animals than people. People stress me out. I work part time pet sitting/dog walking and it's such a fun and rewarding job. So for now, that works for me and chills me out when I get stressed.

    Btw, you're gorgeous woman! I can't put my finger on it but you remind me of someone. Not sure if someone from where I live or someone famous, but regardless, you remind me of someone.
    Have a great day hun!

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  52. I can't do it at all. I get turned around so easily. I still don't even point the right way when I'm up in my office talking about something down the street, because I can't figure out where the front door is facing relative to my particular office. It's sad.

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  53. The first few times I wrote checks in college, I had to call my mom and ask. Pretty sad for an 18 year old! But at least I figured it out now!

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  54. If only the school systems would get on board.

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  55. I've saved at least 3 friends from whatever might have happened back in college, just because I was so ultra aware of my surroundings and they just weren't. Lucky I got them back to their dorms safely but what if I wasn't there? Why don't more women know how to take care of themselves?! It needs to be taught.

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  56. I totally agree! Sometimes I think it was because we're smart that they felt we didnt need any of the other stuff. And that such a stupid thing to propogate.

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  57. My dad taught me to balance my checkbooks and how to write checks. Credit and loans are another thing that should be taught.

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  58. All so true!! I can't even remember how I got anywhere in the car without gps, seriously. I also thought a lot about when we were moving cross-country how impossible/frustrating that would have been pre-internet age. How did you even find hotels? I still can't iron. P irons my clothes when it's needed.

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  59. I am honestly so confused as to how I did anything before the internet... how DID you find hotels?! I don't remember.
    I don't even own an iron. I won't buy stuff that I have to iron haha. Man, I suck.

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