Magic Tree Clock

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just 5 Easy Steps

Today, ToDay, TODAY! - learn home economics in just 5, easy to implement steps! Your neighbors are doing it, and so can you!

Really? Thanks anyway, Greg. Well, I'm poking fun at the eHow people and the five steps at this website: How To Learn Home Economics.
(Note to the right of "Instructions that the difficulty level is listed as "easy".)

At the beginning, eHow states, "Home economics is the study of economic and management in a domestic environment. This formal study includes consumer education, cleaning, sewing, cooking, child development and all other domestic related fields. In higher education, home economics is classified as family and consumer science, which includes women and men. Home economics has been thought of as a field of study primarily for women, but that has changed in recent years with higher enrollment rates for men. Luckily, home economics basics can easily be learned online or through taking a course at your local vocational school." Then the five steps follow.

Step 1 - Do some research. Find out what interests you about the field. You'll likely run across the things that have stereotyped the field and women, as well as avoiding any deeper philosophy connected with the economic practices of home and every other action occurring outside of the homes' walls or boundaries.

Step 2 - Take a home economics course at your local vocational school. Call them up and ask them if they have a basic introductory class. You'll already need to know something about your own home economic situation because this step suggests that you find a class that costs an amount that is comfortable to you to pay. Are you ready for a degree in home ec now? Simply go to Step 3.

Step 3 - "Go to the eCollege Finder website to look through a list of online accredited schools if you already have received your high school diploma." Okay, done. Now what?

Step 4 - "Choose what type of degree you want from the drop-down menu, then select your area of study from the second drop-down menu. Select "Liberal Arts" for a basic degree in home economics or select "Education" if you want to learn how to teach home economics. Type in your ZIP code and email address, then click on the "Search Now" button to continue." *coming to a screeching halt*... Ah, there it is, home economics used as commodity development. All a vendor needs, in this case eHow, is to know where you are generally located, and an email to send you important messages about your desire to be a home economist.

Step 5 - Provide the search system with your blood type, names of all your kin 3 generations out, your astrology sign, and a quote from the best fortune you ever got from a fortune cookie. Press submit and voila, you'll find the school for you with the program for your success in your newly found passion for the economy of home.

Okay, so this version of Step 5 is my interpretation of what is really listed on eHow, but how pertinent? There is no magical set of personal information that can provide you with the ideal school or program or interest in home economics or family and consumer sciences. One might not look at the successful completion of a home economics class as the determiner of pursuing a degree in the field. One would be better to look at the reasons that drove them to take the class in the first place. Where is your philosophy? What are you thinking about? What is the connection to home economics, family, and consumption that put you in front of your computer and compelled you to Google, perhaps, "what is home economics" or "home economics class"?

The search for what is important enough to us that we want to spend time, thinking, and money on it doesn't happen in the 0.26 seconds that it took Google to search for your key words. It is something that builds over time, even when you aren't paying attention. I suppose if someone wants to be a home economist, family and consumer scientist, or a writer for eHow, she or he needs to dig deep into their own thoughts, which, frankly, won't take five simple steps to do, nor will the results of how to pursue what you find happen in five simple steps either. There are no search boxes in your head. And no submit buttons.

[Disclaimer: - I'm sure eHow is a wonderfully helpful website. I just wish things so important to humanity and the planet weren't stated as if a Cliff Note or "home economics for Dummies" book made the study of economy that simple.]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

School Farming - is the time finally now?

I am researching information in some early 20th century publications generally entitled, The Farmer's Wife. It is basically a magazine with stories, advertisements, helpful tips, discussions, etc., like any modern magazine. In the August 1912 issue, there is a paragraph called A New Measure of Farm Life. It says,

"From Wisconsin comes the prophecy that in the future every school will be surrounded by a small farm of from ten to fifteen acres, which will not only afford the pupils a chance of practice and education, but will enable the teacher to partly support himself on the land. Wisconsin, like a good many personal reformers, is living many years ahead of the times. This idea of school farming is not its only advance step. Wisconsin is one of the states that has passed laws whereby every school building shall be considered a Social Center for the community. Other states will find an excellent lesson to copy in this act of legislature."

This combination of growing food and social interaction is something that was lost in many places in America, for how long I don't really know. But today, the trend is moving toward this Wisconsin "prophecy". People are taking an interest in real food and finding ways to bring it to the schools and the kids. An elementary school in Loveland, Ohio has their Granny's Garden School, and all the kids get to work and in the garden, learn and practice the process of growing food, and enjoy the goods! Apparently they caught wind of the prophecy early, establishing the garden in April of 2002. Want to see what they are doing? Here's the link: Granny's Garden School.

Think about this. Ninety years after the publication that I hold in my hand was printed, a school farm was initiated in Loveland. What has kept this disconnection in place for so long? Schools are always social places for their communities, as called for in the Wisconsin law. Now I wonder about the impact of this social farming on the youth who get to participate and how their practice of home economics will be influenced. More home food gardens? What about their future of food budgeting and knowledge of nutrition? What will their kids be taught? Where else is this influence happening? What are other kids today missing at schools that only provide processed government frozen goods?

Monday, April 5, 2010

A New Shift Toward a "Female-driven Economy"? - Seriously?

Well, if you know anything about the history of consumer patterns, advertising, and its development, you already know - without consulting a big national study by a communications firm - that women are the major targets of consumer ads and products. I am not going to try posting all of the background information I have on this topic. It's very extensive, and so insanely obvious that the research findings at the first link below, shocked me with the title: "Women, Power, and Money: The Female-driven Economy". It seems to be a specialized publication for companies to they can consider how to "reach" women and get them to "drive" the economy.

I just can't keep from chuckling about this. Really? In 2008 you had to do a study about women as the main consumers? I suppose the good news is that the marketers don't have a clue, which in my opinion shows that women, the consumers, are economically intellectual in many ways that probably can't be known or revealed by research. That sounds like economic empowerment to me!

I need to say that since the beginning of industrialism in America, women's traditionally ascribed gender roles of producing the daily things of home were being siphoned off into industry - the weaving, spinning yarn, knitting, quilting, sewing, food storage, etc.. When women began to follow that alienating hose to the factories, they stopped a lot of their own production and found themselves uniquely tied to selling their labor for what they had once done independently (see Women At Work by Thomas Dublin, 1979). They started purchasing what they had once made.

It didn't take long for manufacturers to advertise their goods and services. Hell, even the undertakers used to call out in the streets for people to bring out the dead and put them in a cart! You have to sell a service - any service. I'm examining some early 20th century publications called The Farmer's Wife (TFW), and they, like most publications, are chock full of advertising for the things women once made. To be fair, there is a mix of production and consumption items in TFW. But one can't help but see just how "female-driven" the economy of home was for women in rural areas as well as urban.

Check out the research by Fleishman-Hilliard here: Kitchen Table Economics: The Power of the Female Consumer. Then click on the Women, Power, and Money link under the paragraph (next to the picture). This will take you to the PDF of the document.