Magazine article Techniques

Family and Consumer Sciences Education: The Compassionate Curriculum

Magazine article Techniques

Family and Consumer Sciences Education: The Compassionate Curriculum

Article excerpt

A strong family and consumer sciences education program can teach some of the most important skills students will need in life.

Among the rallying cries in America today are these:

"We must strengthen family values!"

"We have to find a way to prevent violence in our schools!"

"We all need to learn personal and financial responsibility!"

"We all must do our part in serving our communities!"

Yet, there is a field of education that is addressing all of these issues-family and consumer sciences. Those who think that these courses are simply about cooking and sewing are sadly mistaken, and that misconception may mean that their school is missing out on the benefits that a strong family and consumer sciences education program can offer. And with the activities of the student organization Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), the benefits to the school, the community and the students are enhanced. The organization's STOP (Students Taking on Prevention) the Violence is a peer-topeer initiative that has even been recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which provided a $500,000 grant in 2001 for expansion of the project.

The teaching of family and consumer sciences education is so infused with the principles of service to the community that the past three winners of the ACTE Outstanding Teacher in Community Service award have all come from the field. Sarah Raikes, the 2002 winner, encourages her students in Kentucky to participate in cancer fundraisers, Toys for Tots, the March of Dimes, STOP the Violence events and events for needy children.

In Sioux Valley, S.D., 2003 winner Machelle Louise Bonde's students participate in Make a Difference Day, a bicycle safety rodeo, a Christmas and Toy Tree program and Character Counts lessons, as well as collecting donations for assisted living centers, domestic abuse shelters and for babies in need at the local hospital. This year's winner, Gloria Haiwick, teaches family and consumer sciences education at Highmore High School in South Dakota. Her curriculum includes community service projects such as assembling grooming kits and delivering them to a women's shelter and providing assistance and companionship for residents of the local nursing home. They also participate in the Kids for Saving Earth Project, SAFE (Safety Awareness and First-Aid Education) and Families First.

A Curriculum for Life

Susan Green teaches family and consumer sciences education (FACS) at Heber Springs High School in Heber Springs, Arkansas, and was one of the nominees for the ACTE Teacher of the Year award in 2001. She has been teaching for 22 years and still looks forward to going to work every day.

"I love my kids, and I love my job," says Green, which is probably one of the reasons she is such an outstanding teacher. She also credits the support she receives from the administration, faculty and her family.

She has no doubts about the benefits of family and consumer sciences education. "Everything that we teach in our class, they can use in their lives," she states.

Her students are involved in a number of activities that are helping them become caring, compassionate human beings.

All of her classes participate in a program called Bridging the Gap that connects teens with the elderly. The Food Production Services Management class has made Thanksgiving dinners and served Valentine's Day teas for the elderly residents of a local nursing center. The Leadership in Service Learning class reads stories and plays games with the residents, and one girl even gave a manicure to a woman at the center.

Green's students have helped with Cleburne County Cares, providing clothing for underprivileged children and canned goods to stock the food panty. They have helped prepare boxes that will be ready for families that might lose all of their household goods in events such as fires. …

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