Home economics and quantitative literacy prepare students for adult life


Graphic by Evelyn Shue

Life skill classes need to become an essential part of the high school experience so students are equipped to enter the adult stage of their life.

Francis Paloma, Opinion Writer

Throughout American high schools during the 20th century, scenes of students chopping vegetables, sewing blouses, budgeting money and parenting were prevalent. Suddenly, with the rise of technology and a shift in gender roles during the ‘90s, these Family and Consumer classes, or Home Economics, began to fade into the past. However, in a society where there is an artificial importance on climbing an abstract socioeconomic ladder, the simple value of a home cooked meal and basic life skills must not be overlooked.

Looking at the most recently graduated generation, millennials fall behind in skills such as cooking and financial literacy. According to a Porch survey only 65 percent of millennials consider themselves a good cook compared to Generation X’s 72 percent and baby boomers 76 percent. When asked to prepare dishes such as roast chicken, pancakes and spaghetti, millennials consistently scored the lowest knowledge in these dishes with margins as high as 16 percent. As for financial literacy, on top of crippling student loans, the average millennial makes $35,592 a year, 20 percent less than baby boomers at the same age, according to a SmartAssets Study.

It is apparent that young adults, let alone teenagers, are under-equipped in practical life skills. “There are a lot of kids that know how to bake and do math but there are also a lot that can’t even really function,” junior Lena Williams said. In today’s busy society, not all parents are equipped to properly teach their kids skills like setting up a 401k.

Introducing home economics and fiscal literacy classes in school allows for equal opportunity for young adults to create a good foundation for living a balanced life. It is clear that knowing how to file taxes or to jumpstart a car can help a person out more than knowing how to find the derivative of a graph. Even cooking a good meal has proven to keep one not just healthy and alive, but happy, according to the Journal of Positive Psychology. Enabling students to accomplish these tasks instills self-confidence and gratification. 

Introducing these courses as an elective would be beneficial and well-received by the student body. “Some people want to learn how to cook, clean, sew, etc. and some people love to show off their skills. In the long run students will feel grateful about the class,” junior Sophia Ubiera said. As the college path becomes more and more unattractive to many students, adulthood is much closer up the road than expected, making these classes imperative to allow students to get a head start.

Classes similar to these already exist within Richard Montgomery, such as Quantitative Literacy, which is available to all students who have passed Algebra 2. The class teaches students how to analyze data from a multitude of real-world examples and math topics targeted to increase number sense and analytical capabilities, great for jobs in finance or engineering. We all ask ourselves when we are going to use calculus in the real world while staying ignorant to courses such as quant lit. 

Even so, there is no pressure to take all of these classes at the high-school age. “Your ages, you are also not really required to maintain a house and family yet,” government teacher William Vicari said. It is important to keep in mind teenagers are still kids and reserve the right to take the simple pleasures in life while we can. There is a fine line between balancing responsibility and recreation, and that varies between individuals. 

School is the place where we become functioning members of society and there is no better the place to teach everyday skills. To set aside money, effort and staffing for these practical classes would be beyond beneficial, not just to individual students who choose to take them, but to society as a whole. Life skills classes enable students to take the first step into their practical, adult lives.