A Home Economist's Stake in the Heart
Many years ago, I studied home economics and earned my first and second degrees in that discipline. "Home Ec" as an academic discipline has been on the ropes for years, propped up by antiquated legislation and a dwindling number of secondary school teachers. My alma mater has effectively killed what little remained of it yesterday. Sad but not unexpected.
It is with a heavy heart that I pass along the death of one I hold dear. It certainly wasn't a surprising death, but the local obituary doesn't do it the justice I feel it deserves. Here is the announcement from Eastern New Mexico University that was sent to students yesterday:
I studied home economics at Eastern New Mexico University and earn a baccalaureate degree in the subject in 1993, one of the last to earn the title of "home economist" at that institution. I originally specialized in child development (earning an associate's degree in Day Care Management, or the running of child development centers) and then broadened my studies toward the end of my degree plan. I was taught and mentored by a small number of excellent home economists with varied specializations but all wonderful women that I respect and honor to this day. I developed relationships with my fellow home economists that I still treasure although we have all gone our separate ways and I rarely see them now. A few years after I went off to my growing family and other pursuits, the name was changed to "family and consumer sciences" as indicated above. In the end, it was a child development center and a culinary arts program, bereft of much else to do with the traditional development of humanity.
For me, my studies in home economics was a head-first dive into the incredibly deep waters of family and home, an exploration into the formative and normative aspects of each of us. Though considered increasingly irrelevant in both academia and society, I have found that the time I spend on the matters of home and hearth, kith and kin, childbearing and child-rearing, food and clothing, among so many other endeavors, are the most rewarding, personally satisfying, and deeply relevant to my life. If people seem frazzled by the pace of change and bewildered by the blizzard of choices that modern life presents, the essential principles of home economics can provide some stabilizing grounding in the things which should be closest to our hearts and speaking to the truest meaning of life.
At yet another freshly-dug grave-plot, I mourn the passing of an academic program that strove to make better people and better families. Perhaps such intrinsically essential things were just too important to leave to the cold academy and its calculating minions. These subjects are likely beyond the understanding of science and stretch the precincts of philosophy, though the economy of the home is the most lasting and vital work in which any person can engage. In the end, as we lay the last bits of this program to rest at ENMU, I hope that home economics is ultimately seen for what it truly is: an endeavor to be lived and perpetuated rather than some activity to be observed and analysed.