The Survival Skills Shortage

11 Nov

I was reading the forums on Ravelry this morning, and came across a discussion on the “lost art” of cooking. This is a subject that has been bothering me for some years. I knit (duh) and sew and cook and bake bread from scratch when the mood takes me, and here where I live now, and among the circle of friends I have, this is not considered particularly eccentric (well, the knitting part is considered bloody eccentric, which is why I blog, but that’s a rant for another day). Where we lived before we had the boys, and the friends we had there – they thought I was nuts. I knew women who actually seemed to be quite proud of the fact that they can’t cook – like that’s a blow they’ve struck for feminism or something! How can you be proud of an inability to take care of yourself and your family? Have you ever heard anyone brag about being unable to read?

Similarly, I can’t understand how people would look on sewing (or knitting, crochet, etc) as an eccentric hobby. I don’t make all my own clothes, but when I shop for clothes I know what constitutes a quality garment, and I absolutely will not settle for shoddy construction. I don’t care about a company’s quality control setup – crap slips through the cracks all the time. Sometimes they even try to market crap as “fashion”; just last winter, I found a skirt described as having “stylish raw edges”! I’m sorry, spin it however you like, raw edges are not stylish, they are slipshod workmanship, and will reduce the life of the garment.

In the lead-up to this election, both the government and the opposition are wittering on about the skills shortage and making maths and science compulsory subjects for year 11 and 12 – maybe they should consider reintroducing Home Economics to the curriculum. At present they have a subject called Food Technology, but check out the description I found on the NSW Schools website. Is it just me, or does that not actually mention cooking even in the most roundabout Beurocrat-ese? Textiles and Design isn’t a whole lot better. Can we please just teach kids to cook and sew? Hell, once upon a time, the Home Economics syllabus included a section on finance and how to feed a family on a budget.

Both of my boys will know how to cook and take care of themselves, and sew at least well enough to stitch up a dropped hem and sew on a button (knitting is optional, but I will be thrilled if they want to learn). Also, I want them to know how to change a tyre and perform basic car maintenance. If I had daughters, they would be learning exactly the same things. When I bought my first car, I didn’t know anything about how to take care of it – I overfilled the oil one day, and had to limp the car (in a cloud of black smoke) to the nearest service station to have the mechanics laugh at me while they drained the oil pan and put in a new air filter (yep, I filled the oil so full it clogged the air filter). Why are we as a society so dependent on others to do basic stuff for us?

Oh, and here’s a novel concept: if we teach kids about good nutrition right from Kindergarten, and teach them how to choose, prepare and cook good healthy food, we could solve the obesity epidemic!

Okay. Soapbox. Off now.

6 Responses to “The Survival Skills Shortage”

  1. Mandie November 11, 2007 at 11:35 am #

    Ditto. Well said 🙂

  2. amy November 11, 2007 at 12:18 pm #

    Right, what you said. Although, I can’t sew, and wish I could. One of the really fun parts about homeschooling is the everyday evidence of how much children learn just by doing what needs to be done. And as another mother raising boys, I feel I have an absolute obligation to raise males who know how to take care of themselves. In a sort of related rant, I think everyone ought to live alone or at least not with their parents before getting married, so they understand that clothes do not wash themselves, toilet paper requires changing (as well as purchasing!), dishes need washing, and so on. My boys will know how to cook, how to plan a meal, how to do laundry… I’m not foisting helpless males off onto another woman!!

  3. bells November 11, 2007 at 8:48 pm #

    oh nicely put. Very nicely put. I get tired of hearing, ‘but why would you do that when you can BUY it’ (re cooking).

    I know someone who once told a nutritionist that the last vegetable she’d eaten was in a McDonalds burger – the pickle – and that was a few weeks earlier.

    There really are people out there like that and it’s a crying shame.

    The big sadness for me is that I don’t have time to do more of my own stuff than I do now.

  4. becky c. November 12, 2007 at 1:18 am #

    Amen, sister! I am always comforted by the fact that I wouldn’t ever be voted Miss America, but I would be a top candidate if there was a Miss Pioneer America. (Other than the killing and plucking chickens competition) If global warming gets as bad as they say and we end up huddled in lean-to’s way up in Canada somewhere, my kids will have warm clothes!

    What got you so fired up?

  5. crossthatpath November 14, 2007 at 7:15 am #

    Here! Here! Brilliant rant! :o)

  6. tinkingbell November 14, 2007 at 10:46 am #

    Well said here here!!!!!

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