From the Archive - 14.01.1983
Sexual equality begins at home
Home economics teachers must guard against talking constantly about housewives and automatically addressing their pupils as girls when there are boys in the classroom.
They should invite male colleagues into their classroom to talk about the man's role in parenthood and house-making, and should involve themselves in the application of science and technology in the home.
These are some of the steps suggested by an equal opportunities working party to make home economics more relevant and appealing to boys.
The working party, set up by the Equal Opportunities Commission, points out that seven years after the Sex Discrimination Act and a major report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate deploring the lack of equal opportunities in the curriculum, home economics is still widely seen as a girls-only subject. In 1977, only 1 per cent of the country's 12,800 domestic science teachers were men and the small number of boys taking domestics subjects at CSE and GCE O-level has risen marginally.
Modern home economics should develop an understanding of people and their basic human need for food, shelter and personal relationships, the report says. "Most boys and some girls will leave school ill-equipped for personal independence and for taking shared responsibility in home and family life unless home economics forms some part of a compulsory core."
The subject's tradition status means that a feminine bias needs to be eliminated. Teachers are recommended to talk of parents, householders and consumers and to devise work programmes.
The report presents checklists for schools' curriculum organisation and content and available resources. They include such questions as: "What subjects are set against home economics?"