Op Ed

Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, January 1, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Op Ed


The following is a letter sent to the Editor of Good Housekeeping regarding Life Skills 101, which appeared in the May issue. Reprinted here with permission. -Ed.

Dear Good Housekeeping Editor.

I agree with the theme of the "family matters" article, Life Shills 101 (May), essential skills children should have. Who is going to teach them? Parents are often so busy trying to cope with life themselves that they forget that they have to take the time to pass on these skills to the children - if they know how.

Yes, it is easier and takes less time to do it yourself than to put up with the messes, dawdling, incompetence, irresponsibility and arguing that often accompanies the parent/child teaching sessions. Teaching can be fun, however, if looked at from the perspective of adventure and opportunity, rather than duty. It builds our children's character and abilities if we hang in there. It also makes for healthy parent/child relationships.

In the past, parents could look to the public school systems to at least augment or reinforce their teachings in life skills. Unfortunately, many vocational classes that used to teach these skills have been greatly reduced or totally eliminated from the public school curriculum - Industrial Education and Home Economics (now called Family and Consumer Sciences). School boards and state legislatures have added graduation requirements, squeezing elective courses from the students' choices.

As a former high school teacher and chair of Home Economics in two large suburban schools, it breaks my heart to see our youngsters leave school with so few "life skills." At the "Open House" nights for parents, I used to summarize our department's classes by holding up one hand, pointing to each finger as I said, "Everyone eats, everyone lives in some kind of dwelling, everyone is a consumer of goods and services, we all wear clothes, and we have to know how to get along with other people at work and at home. Learning how to do each of these effectively, efficiently, healthfully, and cooperatively is what we teach in our classes."

I know (and agree) that it is imperative that students be literate in language, math and science skills. Also, in today's society, computer skills are needed. However, there is more to a good education than just preparing for the workplace. If a person doesn't function well at home, he or she is going to have a harder time functioning well in the workplace. We need to rethink our focus. "Getting back to the basics" involves more than the 3 R's.

For more information, contact the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, 1555 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, (703) 706-4600, (800) 424-8080, fax (703) 706-4663.

Belva Barrick, CFCS

Dear Editorial Staff,

This letter is sent in response to an article published in the Journal - Diversity in the New Millennium - Volume 92 Issue # 3 Same Sex Relationships.

I have been a member of the AAFCS for over thirty years and during that time I have been a strong advocate of the mission of our profession, that of enhancing the quality of life for families. Throughout my professional career, which encompasses teaching at the university level, the technical college level and the high school level, I have built strong programs based on the importance of the work of the family.

Throughout these thirty years, I have seen social movements which have not been in the best interest of enhancing the quality of life for the family. Our profession reacted to those movements, specifically for educators in the area of curriculum content, by providing us with research materials to help our students understand and accept those movements. I believe some of those liberal movements resulted in weakening the family unit with increases in single parent families, teen pregnancies, acceptance of cohabitation.

While I do not wish to see the return of mom tied to the kitchen sink and the ostracism of a divorced woman, I do believe the family continues to be weakened by social movements which have their basis in "my rights as an individual - do what feels good.

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