Home ec in todays world

Photo contributed by Kelly Schulze
Malcolm Brown, a freshman at Bexley High School, helps prepare food as part of an Easy Entertaining unit in which teacher Kelly Schulze exposes the students to new appetizers and fun foods.

Standing at the kitchen counter, Bexley High School freshman Malcolm Brown began cutting vegetables, preparing them for a lesson in cooking.

The class, part of the Family and Consumer Science program at the high school, teaches students the fundamental principals of food biology, food chemistry and food processing.

The course also incorporates other real-world lessons, such as career planning and financial management.

Though still considered home economics to many, the class has come a long way from sewing and child rearing – the focus of home ec classes held in school districts as early as just a decade ago.

"I was as stereotypical as anyone else at first and could not see how home economics was still viable in today’s world," said Kelly Schulze about her first thoughts of the prospect of becoming a home economics teacher.

Schulze’s dream has been to help educate children so they will not face problems of today, such as the obesity epidemic taking over the country, she said.

"My intention is to provide students with skills to solve all practical problems or those essential questions that drive us everyday – how will I afford, what should I eat to stay healthy, and so on," Schulze said.

Some newer classes that are being offered at Bexley High School include a personal finance course in which topics include money management, banking, consumer credit, insurance and the fundamentals of investing, and a financial management course that takes a deeper look at financial planning and broadens the scope to include personal and family finances across the lifespan.

"Students exiting this course should be able to determine the impact of public policies on financial planning for themselves and a family," Schulze said.

A career seminar and career planning course also prepares students for life after high school by assisting them in laying out sets of goals for their life choices in areas of career, personal and family relationships, and wellness.

"The difference is that the first course is for 9th and 10th graders so that I can help guide them to transition and make positive decisions early in their high school career, while the second course is for 11th and 12th graders and guiding them to make the same type of transition and decisions as they transition out of high school," she said.

Schulze is continuing to work with administrators to tweak the curriculum, such as streamline the courses and to make academics come to life in the classroom and in the students’ lives, she said.

"I think it is important to expose students to the real world issues while still in high school because it is at this pint they are still able to grasp the concepts without hearing the information and thinking not me – that is not me and ignoring it," Schulze said. "Right now students can hear the information, listen to real life examples and reflect on the information to set a course that will have fewer speed bumps."

Although the curriculum has changed over the years, one thing has remained the same, she said.

"The most important thing that I think keeps the curriculum the same throughout the past 100 years is the focus on creating individuals who will become adults that are proactive, responsible leaders and world citizens," she said. "Even though the focus may have been how to make your husband’s dinner pleasant and keep a clean home, the new focus is to create healthy meals that engage all members of your family to partake while thinking about how their choices influence their environment."

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