Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS)

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Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) is the politically correct name for Home Economics now. I just learned that recently when I went to an open house for middle school. I was shocked to hear that home ec has been renamed and it made me feel old once again. According to Wikipedia:

“Family and consumer science was previously known in the United States as home economics (often abbreviated “home ec” or “HE”). In 1994, various organizations, including the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, adopted the new term “family and consumer science” to reflect the fact that the field covers aspects outside of home life and wellness.The field is also known by other names, including human sciences, home science, and domestic economy. In addition, home economics has a strong historical relationship to the field of human ecology, and since the 1960s a number of university-level home economics programs have been renamed “human ecology” programs, including Cornell University’s program, among others.”

I’m headed towards fifty years of age and am blown away with how much I have been taught that has changed. I’ll never forget my amazement when I found out that people do not use the term “Sitting Indian Style” anymore and they now call it Criss Cross Apple Sauce. I wrote about it in January of 2009.

Recently, I was sitting through a presentation of what I thought was Home Economics for a family member at a middle school and heard the teacher refer to the class as Family and Consumer Science. After the introduction was over I made my way over to the teacher and asked her, “What did you call this class?” Being around my age, she explained to me the fluid nature of the course title. All I remember was home ec was a great class where I learned to make Rice Crispies Treats and how to cook other banal treats. Now, the class has expanded into other areas like balancing a checkbook and human development. Maybe they did that back in my day, but I don’t remember that.

For me, it was nostalgic to walk through this middle school. It reminded me of mine in South Florida back in the day. It looked like it was built by the same architect. Looking at the walls of metal lockers and water fountains in the corners took my back in time. I wrote in my book The Misers of Miramar:

“Things were so different back then. Try to imagine, just for a second, a public school in America now that has its own smoking lounge, not for the staff, but for the students. Our high school had a smoking lounge right in front of the school. Parents, staff and students alike would have to drive past the student’s smoking lounge to get onto the property. Just imagine today the sight of the children’s smoking lounge with kids just puffing away on cigarettes as you dropped your kid off at school. It seems so unthinkable now, but that was the world we grew up in. That was the norm. That was the year we televised the first MTV Music Awards hosted by Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler. It was the year that a few TV shows premiered, for instance, Miami Vice, Moonlighting and The Cosby Show. Michael Jordan was selected for Rookie of The Year in the NBA and Larry Holmes was the Heavyweight Champion of the World defending his title with 15 round fights.

The world was so different for us, yet we did not grow up to be monsters. Somehow with all that freedom, we found our way. This was the year the first internet domain symbolics.com was registered. We had no understanding of what the internet was and where it would take us. We had no understanding of this new disease called AIDS when that year it was revealed Rock Hudson was dying from it. Our generation came of age sexually at the same time AIDS took off. We have never known the world without consideration of that deadly disease when it came to being sexually active. Together as a generation, we walked hand in hand into a brave new world. Collectively and individually without thought, we became Generation X. Without knowing it, we were The Last Generation of Freedom.”

While I was walking through this Open House the other day in this school I stood around looking at today’s children running around. Every one of the kids had a smartphone in their hands. I pondered what my education would have been like if I carried the knowledge of Google in the palm of my hand. All that time running around chasing down the Dewey Decimal System seems so prehistoric now. What hit me like a thunderbolt standing there in a sea of pimples and hormones at that school, was the realization, it is time to rethink school itself. The entire system, building and everything associated with it was built for a time that had passed. My head started to fill with the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

“We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall”

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