It is hard to imagine a time when boys and girls were raised with separate expectations. A time when schools put girls in home economics classes to learn the skills of being a good mother and wife, while boys were sent to learn auto repair or woodshop – you know, manly skills. Today, although these classes still exist, kids have the choice to take them, regardless of gender. In fact, at The Montecastelo School of Spain, teachers are attempting to break down these gender stereotypes. The boys at the school learn how to iron, cook and sew, often taught by their dads. (1)
Vital Skills For Adulthood
“Equality is learned with actions” is the slogan at The Montecastelo School of Spain. While the traditional curriculum for boys is still in place including masonry, plumbing, and electrical, staff have added classes that at one time would have been exclusively taught to girls. (1)
The classes started in 2018. Volunteers teach the classes, many of which are dads of students at the school. According to Gabriel Bravo, School Coordinator, these skills are vital to prepare the boys for adulthood. (1)
Forming A Family
The school is breaking down stereotypes teaching boys that performing these tasks is part of being in a family. The skills are useful to anyone. It is no longer a matter of women being responsible for household chores such as cleaning, cooking and ironing. (1) Bravo says these skills will allow boys to handle themselves at home. (1)
Work For Parents
Although the students were hesitant at first, they eventually accepted the classes. Many found the classes helped them understand the work involved in being a parent. They now realize that running a household and the tasks parents perform are not easy. (1)
Andrès Luna, Economy professor at the school, teaches his students that ironing is not a woman’s job. (1)
According to Claire Breton, the curriculum will teach boys about gender equality. However, it will also provide them with the independence they need so they no longer rely on their mothers.Surprisingly, this is not a new concept in the U.S. Back in 1996, Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia, worked to break down stereotypes for boys and girls. At that time, home economics classes were also being introduced at other schools across the country for both boys and girls.
Renamed “Work and Family Studies” or “Life-Management Education” the classes attracted boys interested in learning how to become good parents. They also wanted to improve communications skills, learn to cook, and strengthen family relationships. (2)
The Disappearance Of Home Economics
Now known as family and consumer sciences (FCS) classes, the interest in home economic classes is decreasing. In 2012 only 3.5 million students enrolled in FCS secondary programs. This is a 38 percent decrease over a decade. (3)
According to Carol Werhan, an FCS educator and member of the board of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, the skills taught in FCS classes still play an important role. She says the classes create “a well-rounded, world-literate human being.” This helps send more kids out into the workforce with much needed life skills and contributes to a greater community.