Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When did we stop doing these things?

Excuse me for sounding so terribly naive, I am only 32 and I left school but some 17 or so years ago, but when exactly did they stop teaching kids how to cook in school? If, as Ed Balls has now announced, all the little ones are going to learn how to cook then they must not be doing it now, so when pray tell did that actually happen?

I can remember when the name changed from 'home economics' to 'food science' - both utterly absurd names I hasten to add - but the content of the lessons were the same. Sausage Rissotto, fairy cakes (is that a politically incorrect name now?), how to boil an egg (dear Edwina!) and the like. The point was that we were still doing bloody cooking so when did it stop?

There is a little bit of me that suspects it will be the Tories fault of course, the last Tory government is almost always to blame for everything, including AIDs, the end of white dog poo (how we marvelled at it!), and the total destruction of life in the Universe before the Messiah Blair saved us all from eternal damnation and death. Having said that, that would still mean that for ten years Labour did bugger all about it.

Was I just lucky with the state school I went to? Both of them in fact, because I ws expelled from one, but I still remember doing cooking lessons there. You see this is where I start to get confused daily with the Government and Labour in general. They are constantly creating initiatives that say we must do X, Y and Z more, and yet almost always I find myself thinking 'but we were doing all that in the 80s and early 90s so when did it stop?'

Kids are getting fat and not doing enough sport in schools, we must have more sport they say. I can remember two double PE periods a week at both my secondary school and the grammar I ended up in. That's four hours a week of potentially shameful time in your M&S underpants (sufficient support unrequired due to late puberty), so tell me how is that different to what the Government is saying we must do today?

There is this constant narrative of a society on the brink and in need of social engineering and yet almost every solution we get told about appears to be things that we were already doing, or at least I can remember being made to do by teachers with Napolean-complexes. Is the entire country on a collective acid trip impacting it's short-term memory?

26 comments:

BrianSJ said...

Tahnk you. I thought it was just me.

Barnacle Bill said...

I'm a bit older than your good self Dizzy - but not much I hasten to add!
I can remember the girls doing domestic sciences, whilst us lads had to do woodwork, at the grammar school I briefly attended before being sent off to boarding school.
When my two daughters were at school I marveled at what they did not get taught that I had to learn.
Nothing about capital cities, glaciers, nor ox-bow lakes in geography.
When we did discuss history they used to look at me with a blank look if I mentioned the Corn Laws, both Pitts, or even Waterloo.
As for cooking, I had to teach them the basics, fluid ounces was a mystery to them.
So I have not been overly impressed by education under NuLabor to say the least.

Bob Piper said...

When did your schol stop teaching people how to spell?

Sorry, below the belt but I just couldn't resist it.

Most things like Home Economics went, as you quite rightly guess, when the Tories introduced the National Curriculum and became obsessional about targets for how many A-C's people got in the 'core subjects'. It was a complete bloody nonsense and played into those Thatcherite Daily Mail sentiments about kids only needing to be able to do the three r's and sod everything else (It wouldn't be so bad if the little buggers came out knowing how to read and add up instead of being experts in wielding a dagger). If we had been fortunate enough in the last 18 years to have an Education Minister with half an ounce of nous or balls in either party, they would have scrapped it and reintroduced the teaching of social skills which appear to be sadly missing.

Bloody hell, I'm starting to sound like mad Verity.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the exact same thing last night. I am 30 and remember compulsory Home Economics. Why on Earth did it stop?

Lee Griffin said...

It didn't stop, but it wasn't compulsory during my time at secondary school. There was also no guidance to stop schools from just teaching kids how to cook cakes and biscuits for the whole term.

Of course Ed Balls new announcement gives no assurances of improved standards or guidance, nor does he pledge to give schools any real funding over this issue despite making it a priority. Hopefully it will stop "food technology" lessons being used to teach kids how to design pizza boxes rather than how to cook food and what a nutritionally balanced diet is.

Sounds to me very much like a choice made because of the pressures of the last year by the healthy foodies (which I think is a good thing) but hasn't actually thought it through very well and hoped solely for it to be taken as a good headline.

Clunking Fist said...

I'm hoping that they rediscover reading, writing and maths.

haddock said...

the rot started in the nineties when the buzzword was 'technology'. Whole suits of classrooms/workshops were stripped of metalworking/woodworking/cooking facilities and equipment to serve the new god of cross-curricular technology. After 15 years of abject failure to produce any more technologists or designers, it seems we are going back to what more sensible people in the 1950s knew was good for both children and the country.
I'm afraid to say the rot started under the last tory government

Rob Marrs said...

I'm 25 and remember doing basic food stuff including, to the shock of my parents, a technical drawing of a sandwich (it was taught as half of CDT at my school).

I also made a risotto with pepperami in it. Madness.

Rob Marrs

Galloping Gourmet said...

Indeed, I went through secondary school in the 70s and we had large, well-equipped kitchens in which we cooked stuff in the 1st to 3rd years (or years 7, 8 and 9 as they say these days).

Of course, the baby-faced career politicians of today won't know this so they must reinvent it, it seems.

My son now goes to a private school and they cook in the Lower/Upper 6th. Probably a better time to do it - getting ready for independent living etc etc, but by that time it is voluntary and uncontrolled, so no place for government intervention....

Raveheart said...

I hope you've started saving for school fees.

The only subjects taught in NuLab schools are texting and stabbing.

Trixy said...

I was never taught Home Economics, or cooking, or whatever you want to call it, at all. Still, that's private schools for you...

Mind you, my mother is a good cook, so I learned at home...

DK

Bill said...

Like another commenter, also rather older than you (in my case quite a bit older), boys did not have the option of doing 'home economics' (i.e. cookery, sewing, etc) at any of the schools I attended (2 primary, 2 secondary).

Boys instead had to do (in secondary school - both grammar schools in my case) woodwork and metalwork for the first year, or perhaps two, I can't remember. I loathed both these topics and escaped as soon as I could!

However, more important I think is the attitude in the home toward food. We always had home-prepared food and the evening meal (which we called 'tea') was almost always together with both parents. Usually our mother did the cooking, but for certain dishes our father ALWAYS did it, so it was never a big deal for us (two boys) to take a hand in the kitchen at home. Although I had done baking at home, I really learned how to do that when I got a video of the sainted Delia showing people how to do it quite a few years later. Other kinds of cooking I learned at home and have been learning ever since. I almost never use pre-prepared so-called 'convenience' foods - it really takes no time at all to prepare simple dishes from the raw ingredients.

Unfortunately we've now had at least one generation of parents who never saw cooking at home when they were kids - that's the really serious problem. I don't often agree with anything the Labour government proposes, but this seems like a really good idea - perhaps they should also do more to encourage evening classes for the parents.

Anonymous said...

It was all to do with being modern & hip. Home Ec became D&T Food, they designed pizzas etc.
What they should be taught is basic cookery, how to shop economically using inexpensive ingredients, plus information about finance loans & credit etc.
I worked in schools as non-teaching staff.
Jon Gregory

Croydonian said...

I agree with Bob on the national curriculum. It is far too prescriptive and should never have been introduced.

If he's worried, imagine how I feel.

Polly said...

When some equal opportunities dickhead decided that boys should be taught about food instead of woodwork, to make it sound more interesting it was renamed "food techonology". From that point on the lessons were less about food than how to increase supermarkets' profits. - What is the unit cost per biscuit blah blah....? What toxic chemical can be used instead of butter blah blah. ? On the rare occasions when a lesson involved cooking, their Mums cooked the meal and home and they took it in ready prepared.
This also had the added bonus of stifling any idea that cooking might be creative and making the "working" class who've left school in the past 25 years pathetically dependent on supermarket ready meals and take aways. (The middle class get taught at home anyway.)

Blackacre said...

I went to a private grammar school in the 70s-80s where we never learnt to cook. I think it was then seen as a girls thing. Needless to say I do the familty cooking now entirely self taught.

haddock said...

Just imagine teaching cooking now, when it was taught the classes were almost without exception, white Christian English kids..... now you could not use any pork ham or lard, nor beef or suet..... any meat of any sort would have to be halal or kosher.... and I think there are Jewish food prep rules to cope with as well
Perhaps designing pizza boxes is the way to go for an easier life.

Croydonian said...

Quick comment on behalf of Dizz (in my role as his vicar on earth) given that he can text and mod comments but not post - the original post was written on a mobile and he is dyslexic, so Bob should stop oppressing him as he's in a minority group.

wonderfulforhisage said...

Hmmm. so you were a bit of a handful at school (left at 16 despite potential for further education and expelled from a school). Since then 'the boy done good'.

Have you any ideas what to do with the current generation who seem to have lost the plot in a big way?

Alex said...

I went to school in 95-02 and was never taught any kind of cookery: incredibly, I taught myself at home with the help of my siblings and parents. Am I the only one here who doesn't want to see it come back? My reasons are thus:

1) It's a micky-mouse subject
2) If you want to do it, you can do it at home perfectly easily with the help of jamie oliver
3) I want to keep compulsarary stuff down to a minimum. Sure, compulsarary maths and english, but *cooking*?

judith said...

I went to a girls' Grammar (56-63) and remember Domestic Science - well the only thing I remember from it is learning how to set a 'naice' tea tray, with all the teaspoons pointing in the right direction. But nobody was interested in you if you didn't want to go to University.

My daughter went to a girls' Grammer (84-92) and learnt how to make a simple tomato soup and an even simpler pizza. But nobody was interested in you if you didn't want to go to University.

So plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Clunking Fist said...

Oh, you're shitting me: why did someone have to mention the mockney kid?!

Anonymous said...

I'm only 22 and I certainly did Cookery at school.

Unsworth said...

So what is this 'Cooking' going to replace in an already overproscribed curriculum? And apparently 800 teachers (out of how many?) are going to be trained in the black culinary arts. Note trained, not recruited, so something will have to give.

Oh, and how are the 'students' going to chop and cut, now that scanners are to be installed in schools? Perhaps they'll be allowed to use Sabatier's finest under 'supervision'? Only 35 in the class, so that should be a piece of cake...

Barnsley Bill said...

It is very weird how all our current affairs are mirrored from the UK, this idea has been floated by the greens down here. I normally flee screaming my head off from anything these socialist numptys vomit forth. But this time I think they have a point.
As Britain has become over run by Vicky Pollard clones, teaching their kids to cook at school may be the only way to create a circuit break in the steady decline.

Shug Niggurath said...

Labour sold the sports fields, less PE. Tony wanted everyone in the country to be a flash website designer, so Home Economics and several other subjects were downgraded and finally binned.

And in ten short years all the damage they've done is coming back to haunt them just as Brown puts the labour party into crisis due to hi dithering, and the rest of them due to the fact that they couldn't run a bath.