By Kelly M. Rupp
Have you seen or heard any of the recent reports/headlines about “adulting” classes or bringing back “Home Ec?” I’m glad there is a resurgence in the demand for this area of study but distraught that more people don’t know it already exists.
Family and Consumer Science (FACS) classes provide knowledge and skills in personal financial management, career exploration, nutrition/wellness, clothing/textile design, human development, food safety, communication, community resources, relationships, environmental design, consumerism, problem solving, sustainability and food production.
Most agree that middle and high school students should have a chance to explore career options, know about banking, be able to do their own laundry, cook a meal, budget money, get a job, purchase a car, get along with others and understand nutritional needs.
Although many may think these skills are being taught at home or via YouTube and Google, the truth is most young adults are not prepared for life. They don’t know how to balance a checkbook, handle credit, understand the advantages and disadvantages of buying and leasing cars, plan and make a meal, save for the future, write a business letter or ace a job interview.
There is a growing number of adults who carry large student loan debt, have poor interpersonal skills, spend beyond their income and are unprepared to take care of themselves, let alone children. According to a 2018 report on CNBC, more than 44 million Americans have student loans, with the average debt hovering around $33,000. Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 have an average of $42,000 in debt each, according to a Northwestern Mutual study. The biggest source is credit card debt.
I am not guaranteeing that FACS classes are the cure for irresponsibility, experience or poor choices, but they could provide future young adults with a foundation in the fundamentals of life. To do this, we need to strongly support the field by mandating courses at both the middle and high school levels instead of threatening cuts due to budget shortfalls.
Furthermore, we need to encourage and, possibly, incentivize teacher candidates to pursue this field so we can turn the current shortage of certified educators into a healthy surplus to offset openings expected in the next several years due to retirements.
FACS degree programs are offered at SUNY Buffalo State College, SUNY Oneonta, Cornell University, Hofstra University, SUNY at Oswego, Teachers College at Columbia and CUNY Queens College.
FACS classes fill the learning gaps that students need to help them travel a road with fewer bumps, detours and potholes.
Kelly M. Rupp is a Family and Consumer Science teacher at Amherst Middle School.