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This course sounds far more like a remedial housework course than a college course. I've seen this linked around, and I know there have got to be details to the coursework that I'm totally not getting, but I guess I just don't get how this is a college-level home ec class, rather than a high-school level class, or, if offered to people above high-school age, a remedial one.

There are certain things that people ought to be able to do, at certain levels of household competence. And if you can't, that's a shame, and it does need to be corrected, although I would not exactly think first of college courses when looking to correct that shortcoming.

Heinlein said: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly." This guy is trying to develop a "Heinlein Maneuver Program", aimed at young men (but I would say that the same principles would apply to a young woman) -- I'd be interested to see where he goes with that.

The number one task on the average home ec curriculum is cooking. At the kindergarten level, one should be able to operate a microwave with supervision, pour a beverage without much spilling, and assemble prepared components into one to five different meals. (Example: peanut butter and jelly sandwich, meat and cheese sandwich, hot dog; mix and match with celery sticks, carrot sticks, apple slices, grapes, bananas.) Basic food safety such as "do not eat that: it has been on the floor." Basic nutrition such as the necessity of vegetables and fruits, and the necessity of eating the main course of one's meal before advancing to the dessert portion.

At the elementary level, add supervised use of a stove or oven, a wider range of meals from prepared components, and some venturing into areas that need more preparation. Food safety should include the number of times you can microwave that thing, and not leaving it sitting out so it goes bad. Basic nutritional requirements need to be introduced, including the ratio of sugar to other carbohydrates (more than half sugar indicates this is likely dessert, not breakfast: think pop tarts!).

Junior high school level cooking involves basic recipe reading and execution, although nothing particularly fussy about imprecise measurements or rough handling. Must be able to select a balanced meal, although it doesn't necessarily have to taste good together. Someone with a junior high education in cooking should be able to fend for themselves for a week in the absence of adult oversight in cooking and meal selection without any further training or intervention, because something like that may hit them in high school.

High school level involves enough food chemistry to be able to make substitutions in recipes or create new recipes, precise measurements and exact handling, menu planning. Could be certified for a food handler's card after training. Must be able to operate all standard-issue kitchen devices, given instructions. High school level training in cooking should leave one suited to cooking for oneself and possibly a household.

College level should include higher-level food chemistry, gourmet recipes and presentation, in-depth study of nutrition, some fun microbiology. It should not be necessary to have a college education in cooking in order to survive on one's own without someone cooking for you.

Clothing: A kindergartener should be able to dress him or herself, possibly excluding the tying of shoes if Velcro is on the scene, and make basic wardrobe decisions, such as whether to wear Transformers or Power Rangers today.

An elementary school student should be able to tie shoes, pick out a complete outfit suited to the weather and basic situation (rough play vs. Nicely Dressed), and know the basic mechanics of sewing by hand (thread a needle!) and using a sewing machine (with supervision for younger years). Upper grades should be able to follow a simple pattern, such as making a pillow or pillow case, and optionally knit or crochet.

Junior high: select a season's wardrobe for purchase, follow a simple pattern, troubleshoot basic sewing machine problems, patch a hole.

High school: Dress for any general occasion, including elements such as style of clothing, quality of fabric and construction, and color coordination (with the event and one's own personal coloring). Dress others for any general occasion. Follow a reasonably complex pattern, or modify a simple pattern to suit the exact circumstances. Alter ill-fitting clothing in basic ways. Multi-year wardrobe planning and maintenance. Use ready-made dye.

College: Pattern creation and following complex patterns. Costuming. Fashion design. And I don't know enough about it to know what else you can do with clothing, really... Weaving. Knowing the right fabric for the right application, and how to work with complicated and delicate fabrics. Leather. Dye chemistry.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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