It’s become a joke when America pokes fun at today’s young adults, who often can’t write a check or don’t know how to cook a basic meal. Yet, American school systems not teaching students these basic life skills —among others — is actually a common tragedy that disadvantages young people in the long run.
One user took to Twitter, saying, “I have a B.A. degree but still don’t know how to write a check correctly,” which almost seems unbelievable. As far as not knowing how to write a check goes, an explanation may be that they aren’t used as much as they once were. U.S. News talks about the use of mobile apps and a massive switch to online banking killed paper checks. U.S. News also cites a banking poll that shows over 60% of respondents ages 18-24 claim to never write checks.
Even if paper checks are a thing of the past, being familiar with writing them is still an important financial and mental skill that will reap benefits in more than one area. In Touch Credit Union lays out a guide to writing checks for young people. Within it, financial skills like learning how to balance a checkbook — which is still a common practice — and learning the logistics of tracking check holding periods are cited as being critical in saving money and understanding the basics of banking. At one time, practices like these were actually taught in school systems, but the programs slowly died out.
According to the Wall Street Journal, student enrollment in home economics has declined almost 40% in the last decade. Often referred to as “Home Ec,” these classes regularly taught cooking, personal finance, health and child development skills, among others.
In recent years, millennials have been the first generation to see a massive increase in obesity-related cancers, something not prevalent in older generations, according to CNN. Perhaps this is in part due to a lack of required education about how to properly prepare a healthy meal. Further, according to a 2015 survey, millennials eat out significantly more than generations before them. Again, this fact could explain a growing trend in obesity attributed to lack of food preparation knowledge.
Home Ec classes taught basic parenting skills, like how to maintain a family schedule. According to Pew Research Center, “millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force.” With an up-and-coming generation of extremely work-dedicated people, the importance of family life and making family a priority may be pushed to the backburner with a general lack of education on how to properly manage time and provide support in this area.
According to HuffPost, Home Ec slowly phased out of school systems in part due to the belief that it’s a dated idea that doesn’t belong in the curriculum of modern day. Further, a sexist belief often surrounds Home Ec that it’s more fitting for women, who are often stereotyped into housewife-type roles. Actually, Home Ec was started as a women’s movement as a sort of feminine independence.
The Washington Post even published an article titled, “Home Ec was started by a feminist. We need to bring it back.”
Many believe that now is the time to reinvigorate Home Ec. Brie Dyas, author of The HuffPost Home Ec article, recommended bringing it back in a college setting where more students will be incentivized to learn financial skills. Other authors, like Niccole Kroll of the Post, suggested “re-branding” the program and making it gender-neutral. In any case, Home Ec is an old concept that millennials and the generations after them will need in an age of modernity.
Josie Haneklau is a sophomore political science and psychology major. Contact Josie at firstname.lastname@example.org.