STUDENTS of today’s generation are so well trained and proficient in a lot of high-tech skills like computer and internet use, camera techniques, music mixing, editing, online publishing and social media distribution — skills that the older generation is just coming to terms and even struggling with.
However, we notice that there seems to be a deficiency in the skills of the youth when it comes to the very skills we were taught by our parents and our teachers early in life from grade school to high school. These are skills that we need in our day to day life like cooking, mending our clothes, washing and ironing clothes, doing repairs in the house, putting air in our tires, and troubleshooting power tripping and outages, etc.
This came to my mind after I came across an article online about the Colegio Montecastelo of Spain published by Racfheed on Facebook.
This school offers home economics specifically for boys, teaching them what we learned in “H.E.” during our grade school and high school years — the basics of cooking, sewing, ironing, house cleaning, etc.
The school also teaches the boys those skills that are typically taught to boys like the basics of carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and electrician skills.
This school in Spain wants to stop gender inequality by teaching boys the basics of doing household chores, pointing to how women have always been expected to cook, wash the dishes, do the laundry, take care of the children, while also working full time or part-time job for the family.
Many husbands (not all), especially in the Philippines, would be seen having happy hour with a chilled bottle of beer while watching TV when they come home from work. Both the husbands and the wives are tired from their jobs, but the women are expected to do all the chores as the husband enjoys “me time,” and then expects the wife to please him in bed at night.
For many families, it seems the explanation for this is that the husbands do not know how to cook, iron the clothes, clean the house, or bathe the babies, because these are chores women have been trained to do. But more than this is the stigma that they will look like “under the saya” or emasculated if they do the chores typically done by the wives. But they contend that they are the ones the wives run to to do house repairs, gardening and changing bulbs.
This delegation is great — men and women having the division of labor and doing chores they are more adept with. However, times are changing. We now have both the husband and the wife taking full-time jobs. There are times when it is the wife who gets a better job opportunity than the husband, but somebody has to stay at home to take care of the kids and do household chores. The man of the house has to step in and do the household chores while the woman helps in providing for the family. This is what marriage and partnership are all about.
Now what this school in Spain is doing is breaking down the walls of stereotypes institutionally, and this helps the collective psyche of the boys who will grow up to be the men of the house to feel no shame in doing household chores and taking care of the children. It even teaches the lesson to the fathers of these children, no matter how belatedly. After all, it is never too late to learn something good, right?
Many of my followers on Facebook who are in their 40s and older would comment that they remember having these classes when they were still in grade school and high school. Unfortunately, with the cost-cutting because of less budget now being appropriated to education, these subjects — home economics, vocational, music and arts — are the first to go. And with both the husband and wife working, who will really have the time to train the kids consistently and relentlessly in these life skills?
THEREFORE, I hope our schools will bring these skills back to the curriculum as mandatory subjects. I propose to take this initiative several notches higher. I think these life skills — household chores, taking care of the babies, basic carpentry, plumbing, electrician skills, changing flat tires, among others, should be taught to ALL students, boys and girls learning together.
Teaching girls skills typically identified with boys will empower them, giving them the confidence that they do not need a knight in shining armor to solve problems in the house, and will not fall prey to unscrupulous repairmen who would charge hefty service fees for a simple job because they think the women know nothing about the issue that needs repairs anyway.
I would like to include financial literacy to the “home economics” aspect of the learning. All students should be taught about budgeting money, how to balance checks, how to live within your means, how to save money, how to invest money, the pros and cons of using credit cards, and different kinds of loans.
These skills, I believe, will help shape more responsible and independent adults in the future. They will be more self-reliant, frugal, and will discover the joy of mending, repairing, making things work instead of dumping tattered clothes, appliances and furniture that can still be repaired.
These skills will create better dynamics between couples, siblings, roommates because they all can share in the responsibilities of making and keeping a home. And as each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous generations, we can expect to have better, happier and more productive homes and families in the future.
Now isn’t this something worth investing in?
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos