Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sewing, & other skills kids don't learn in school anymore

There was an interesting article in the Washington Post this weekend, about specialized classes in sewing, cooking, wood-working, among others, skills that used to be taught in school but aren't now.

Back in the paleolithic, I learned sewing & cooking when I was about 12, along with all the other girls in my public school. The boys went to wood-working. (I don't even know if they had 2 classes, or just one.) I was lucky because my mother cooked & sewed and so I already knew most of what was being taught, which were quite basic skills. So when I wanted to make something at home, I had my mom's advice & know-how to back me up.

It's interesting that parents find such classes worth paying for, perhaps to ensure their children are more creative or learn some hands-on problem-solving skills? I also liked seeing the co-ed classes; I definitely would have enjoyed a wood-working class back when I was 12...if nothing else it might help a bit with shelving in our tiny closets!!

What do you think? Should public schools include this type of class? Do you wish you'd learned to sew at an earlier age? Why/Why not?


  1. Hmm... interesting question. When I started secondary school they'd just stopped home economics classes (cooking, sewing etc) and were about to start IT instead but hadn't got the computers in yet so my year missed out on both. My mum was really concerned about me not doing IT so I took a computer class as soon as I finished school so I could be more employable. Sewing, on the other hand, was something I could very easily have been taught at home as my mum had been to fashion college. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different had she taught me or had school taught me to sew... and I come to the conclusion that - for me personally - I may not have become as passionate about it as I am now, coming to it later in life, having been bored to death working in an office. I think it would be great to have it included in art/craft classes rather than a "home economics" style course - that would have been fun and a nice change from painting every once in a while.

  2. Good point,'s almost as if art could include painting, drawing, sewing & cooking?! Is it because it's women's work it got relegated to home-ec (for dummies who wouldn't go to college)?

    I wax & wane w/ passsion; I would be more passionate about everything if I had more time! But I do enjoy sewing. Knitting, though, I learned in my 20s by paying for an 8 week class. and I enjoy it just as much and am as proud of what I've made as with sewing which I've been doing since I was 5 or so.

  3. I was never able to taking sewing classes until few years ago. I wish they had hands-on courses as I was growing up. However, I also know that some people hate sewing, woodwork or you name it. And I often wonder...what would these people do? Of course that would also apply for sports, maths or languages if you don't like it. How much should be core curriculum and how much should it be electives?

  4. It's a good point; I can imagine 50 yrs ago that sewing was a pretty important skill as clothing was expensive & hard to get (I remember wanting "store-bought" clothes in the 60s!). So perhaps that justified teaching it in school. I suspect in the US it would have to be an elective--like art or music or woodworking. Though these days, with all the budget issues, I can't imagine a school system willing to buy & maintain enough sewing machines for a whole classroom. Though they did have the $$ for that when I was in school (it was part of my home economics course that all 7th grade girls, about 12 yrs old, took).


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