Higher Education

Readers, I know we’re right in the middle of a sewalong here, but my brain gets a flowing and the thoughts start a pumping and I get a little interested in your thoughts on sewing related topics. So here’s one for ya.

My husband and I have had long exhaustive (believe me when I say exhaustive) discussions on going back to school for one thing or another. Mr. S and I both have music degrees. We’re both great appreciators of the art and at one point or another it was all we ate, drank and slept. Times changed when we graduated and found that the job market doesn’t really cater to musicians (at least the kind we want to be) – as I’m sure it is with many other subjects taught in colleges and universities the world over. Needless to say, after a time when college was done, I found myself extremely unhappy with my lot. I was a trained musician and all I could get for a job was secretarial work. And so it goes.

Anyway, a year or two ago, I was rather taken with the idea of going back to school and getting a degree in Family and Consumer Science with an emphasis in sewing. Friends, I wanted to be a Home Ec teacher. Yup. I would still love that job. I would love to teach students at the high school level and have subjects such as tailoring, costuming, pattern drafting and fashion design taught. I would totally be one of those teachers that would get completely geeked out about adding more sewing intensive courses to the course catalog each year. I mean, I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but still, do ya get where I’m coming from?

So, I started looking around at my local universities and colleges to see where this program was offered and I hate to be the one to say it, but these programs are seriously dying out. Like there is but one university here in Utah in which you can get the FACS degree with an emphasis in sewing and to that university I cannot go because I’m not of a certain religious affiliation. Oh, there are other universities in the state of Utah that have the FACS degree, but they don’t even offer a single sewing course. That would be completely silly for someone like me who actually only wants the sewing part.

At the time I was so taken with this idea of going back to school, I did a national search to see where this particular degree was offered and let’s just say, this is a degree that is in seriously short supply these days. This makes me sad. Also makes me wonder, seriously wonder why this degree is starting to die out. What do you think? What’s going on in your neck of the woods and have you ever looked into getting this type of degree for yourself? Any home ec teachers out there – what do you think? What is the deal with colleges and universities getting rid of this program? What can we do about it? Anything?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Let’s discuss!

xoxo,
Sunni

  • Penny K. - I can tell you what is happening in Wisconsin. FACE is being phased out of all our schools – no funds to support the “extra”, which means there is no market for teachers once they graduate so the universities do not offer it because they cannot place their graduates. Sad, but true. I am teaching my daughter and three other 11 yo to sew because they will no longer have that option at school.ReplyCancel

  • Tracy - Sunni,

    I work at a university and we still have an FCS option. This post made me go look again at the major requirements for classes. For a textile and apparel option there is one sewing class and one patternmaking class. The rest are history of clothing, textile design, etc. I would like to see an advanced sewing option for at least one class….then I could take it!ReplyCancel

  • Firstmute - I have very strong feelings about what’s happening to both the education system these days, but I’ll spare you :) It’s a shame these programs are being phased out. I wonder if you’ve thought about offering private lessons? It would probably take no more investment than a degree and probably be no riskier in this climate! I think many parents would be interested in having their children take the kind of classes you describe–and many kids, too.ReplyCancel

  • BeckyMc - I live in Washington State and the high schools have been phasing out Home Ec classes, so not many job opportunities. And the sewing that is offered (two classes a semester) is very basic, with the “advanced” class teaching a four patch baby quilt as the semester-long project. So, before you go back to school, double check the job opportunities so you don’t end up with another degree and no job.
    Non Mormons can go to BYU. The tuition is a little higher, because member’s tithes support the school, so members get a tuition break. Similar to in-state tuition being lower than out of state tuition. But even at the higher tuition level it is nowhere near out of state tuition fees. BYU costs 1/3 what I am paying to go to my local community college in Washington state, since our state has been cutting funding to education for so long. I’m wishing I was in Utah, and you can bet I’d be taking those tailoring classes at BYU!
    If BYU is the only place that teaches the course work you want, go there!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Oh I realize that non-mormons can go to BYU, but the thing is I was mormon and now I’m not and that makes a HUGE difference. I would have to start attending their church services regularly in order to go to school there and that’s the part I have a problem with.

      They have an awesome fashion design program at Salt Lake Community College, but it’s only an Associate’s program. That would be really fun and then I could transfer to another university and get the FACS degree, but alas, its the time commitment for me. Just don’t know if I want to really go back for yet another 4 year degree! Ha ha!ReplyCancel

  • weeza - My own feeling is that these skills are viewed as self-taught hobbies – that one can learn anything from the internet, blogs and youtube. So no-one wants to ‘waste school time’ learning skills that we don’t ‘need’. This makes me sad. But then I have two Eng Lit degrees which didn’t set me up for work at all – my job is something I learned on the side – and am writing a PhD because I want to, rather than it furthering my career. I would dearly have loved to have learned how to make my own clothes at school.ReplyCancel

  • craftygoodness - Hi!

    Have you checked out SLCC’s Fashion design program? They have some of the courses you are looking for-

    http://www.slcc.edu/fashionReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I have, but alas its only an associates degree. I would have to transfer somewhere else to get the full bachelor’s and then the teaching certificate.ReplyCancel

  • LinB - Y’all need to move south and east. NC Cooperative Extension offers sewing classes through most county extension locations. NC State University, NC Central University, Meredith College, NC A & T University, University of NC at Greensboro — and probably more — all offer at least a bachelor’s degree in apparel design, which requires sewing classes, which are taught at the college level. Guilford Technical Community College offers self-supporting classes this summer: Beginning Sewing, Advanced Sewing, Sewing All Levels, and Quilting. “Self-supporting classes” mean that if enough people don’t sign up, there is no class — these classes are offered every quarter, which tells me that there are plenty of students. There’s been a resurgence in interest at local fabric store sewing classes, too. Every time I sit down to look at pattern books I am surrounded by new sewing students who ask me — a stranger to them — intelligent questions about how to choose a pattern for their class.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - I feel your pain! This was my dream too, and I found the same thing here (Washington). The school system is in so much trouble there’s just no funding for those classes anymore. You might look at private schools or charters, where their reliance on non-state funding sources means that you won’t necessarily need the certification to teach there anyway. Your real-world expertise might be enough. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s so sad the direction that public school has gone. :(

    Ooh, I just thought of something else- what about 4-H? Is that part of the school system, our separate? I never participated, but I wish that I would have. Would have been right up my alley. Yours too, I bet.ReplyCancel

  • Corinne - The subject dear to my heart, sewing education.

    First, let me congratulate you on your music degree. In my opinion, no education is a wasted education. That said, I can understand your frustrations. Since you have been bouncing the idea of returning to school around for a while, pondering a little while longer is probably your best option. You have great talent with sewing. Your tutorials are beautifully done. Your style is organized, comprehensive and well presented. I think that is a clue. If it were my option I would do some market research for your area. Would it be reasonable for you to open a Sewing Workshop? The little store fronts (cafe’s?) that provide basic sewing machines, sergers and supplies with assistance provided to customers might be worth a try. You could offer classes from beginners on up. Many communities are providing start-up grants to new businesses and reduced rent to revitalizing neighborhoods. A partnership with a machine dealer might help in the start up costs. Remember, once your enthusiasm transfers to your customers you can direct them back to that machine dealer. The details of your arrangement would be worked out in contract form, of course. Sell yourself, sell your skill etc. Just an idea.

    Unfortunately, these skills are no longer being taught in many schools. We must reinforce how important it is maintain them to the public in general. Locally, in our quilt guild we make sure every local newspaper and news outlet hears of everything we do. We have a dedicated committee that does this. Our membership continues to grow. In the world of garment sewing this is essential. Everybody needs clothes, not all clothes need to come from off-shore sweat shops. Quality work, developing skills, pride in self expression need to be celebrated. Each community needs to approach this from their perspective. I am fortunate to live in a very artistic area. While our primary industry is technology and medicine, the arts community speaks loudly.

    OK, I’ll shut up now, but if this is your passion, then you owe it to yourself and family to investigate it thoroughly. Set a time line for a decision, work toward that goal. Then make your decision and don’t look back. Please keep us informed. Many people have made the leap, if it is right for you, you will know.ReplyCancel

  • J - Would it be an option to find a highly qualified tailor in the area and do a pseudo apprenticeship if that’s what you’re interested in? Or do something like this http://www.paccprofessionals.org/certification-program ?

    I have to say that teaching Home-ec in HS will require you to teach a lot more than just sewing, and what sewing you do teach would end up being very basic. Most schools have just very general classes- I’ve never heard of a school offering anything beyond basic sewing skills. Just as a music major might be disappointed at job prospects upon leaving school, so might a FCS major with dreams of revolutionizing HS sewing programs be disappointed when confronted with things like budget cuts. But then, I went to high school(s) far from Utah, and heaven knows things are different here.

    I almost want to second the previous vote that if BYU is the only school that offers what you’re looking for, then you should consider going there. I say almost because if your problem is mainly with the LDS Church and not the tuition, you’ll end up being required to take a number of classes as part of your degree that you might not find…useful. I think you would also find that the School of Family, Home, and Consumer Sciences (or whatever they’re calling it now) is one of the more conservative areas within the university (and I know you might think “what? there are *less* conservative areas?!” Yes, there’s quite a lot of variation within the university itself, and hopefully it’s increasing, but some areas are slower to change than others), and I say this as someone who graduated from BYU.

    So. All of this sounds like a huge downer, and for that I’m sorry.

    I *do* think it’s awesome that you’ve started teaching at Yellowbird Fabrics (love that place), and if you do eventually make the decision to teach sewing in a school, it will be great experience.ReplyCancel

  • Victoria - Sunni, It also saddens me that sewing skills are no longer taught in school. At the risk of dating myself I will let you and the readers know that I took Home Ec in both Jr High and High School, it was required for girls. I Loved It! My daughters did not have Home Ec taught in school. The best program we found for learning these skills was 4-H. A fantastic program that is available to anyone. 4-H programs teach everything in garment making from fabric choice, sewing skills, record keeping, and modeling your creation. Available from 4th through 12th grade. 4-H leaders are in much demand and I am sure that they would love to have someone like you in that position.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - I thought of going back to school for this same program a few years ago and found the same thing. It’s just not being offered widely. Home economics is not being taught in the local schools anymore so there isn’t a need for the teachers. There are so many pressures on our school system and the budgets are stretched so thin that many programs are being cut.ReplyCancel

  • Katie - My mother actually has a degree (from the University of Texas) in Textile Conservation, where she took some very advanced sewing/tailoring/pattern design classes. She looked into the high school teacher route (Dad teaches advanced maths at the local HS, so she got the inside scoop), and the sewing offerings were really dismal. There just aren’t any kids in this age group interested enough in advanced sewing classes to offer them, even at very large high schools. She uses her degree as a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for the County Extension office in Texas and she loves it. She still gets to teach sewing (at 4H and other interested groups) and her job is to be involved in the local sewing community, so she gets to go to sewing and quilting clubs and teach as well as learn. She also is responsible for food safety and cooking, but she loves that so it works for her. All that was just to say that there are other things that can be done with a FCS related degree. If you really love it, don’t give up!ReplyCancel

  • Grace - I also fantasize about being a home-ec teacher (the kind my highschool didn’t have).
    I earned my MS in Apparel Design at FSU College of Textiles and Consumer Sciences back in 2003. I just did a quick check and there is no apparel program or TCS any more. Merchandising and Product developement have been lumped in with the College of Human Sciences. My BFA program (Studio Art) has similarly shrunk. I’m currently taking a Patternmaking Certificate course (5 classes) at FIT because they don’t offer patternmaking as it’s own degree program. It is sad that our school system isn’t emphasizing these techincal skill programs any longer. I understand that the Arts are a luxury that our generation over-indulged in, but the loss of specialized skilled educational programs is a cultural mistake. It think it is very important that we try to keep these skills alive for future generations.ReplyCancel

  • Megan - Hello! I’m a certified Washington state educator, alas, not in FACS. I’m teaching ESL and just sewing for fun. I have good news for you on the degree front though! My bachelor’s degree is in French Literature, so I hear your pain on there not being my job opportunities in my field. When I got my teaching degree, I found I could get (rather intense, compressed) 14 month master’s degree in teaching. That qualified me to teach grades K-8 in Washington, and Reading to all grades. My bachelor’s degree added another 3 subjects to my license, so I was in pretty good shape for the job market. That was a long intro to my point: you could probably spend maybe a year in the community college taking the cores FACS classes you need for an endorsement, and then take a Masters/Teaching Certification program that isn’t subject specific. The bonus of this is that it would likely be much quicker than a 4 year degree, and you’d earn a lot more money than with a second bachelors degree. This is the path I took, and I’m very happy with my education and the fulfilling career it got me (I really do love teaching-my students are the best part of my day!). I hope you’re able to find an educational path that suits you and your dreams! Best of luck!ReplyCancel

  • Alaskapsych - It is a totally dying program, sadly. Have you considered a voc-ed track? Maybe there’s some opportunities to teach via that route. A lot of vocational schools offer practical aspects of every day living as programs. You might be able to teach if you can provide years of experience and a heartfelt promise to get teaching certification over and above. It would depend where you live and what programs are available in your area. I don’t know what with NCLB requirements, that might not be sufficient, but it might be worth looking into.ReplyCancel

  • Erin Cumming - Cool! My husband and I both have music degrees (singing-performance). I continued on immediately after finishing my degree to take a 2 year course in graphic design, and he is now going back to school to get his education degree. The only thing i would go back for is sewing as well. I think my high school got rid of the sewing part of home ec shortly after i took it. You’re right, it really is a total shame.ReplyCancel

  • Becky - I hear ya on the music thing– I’m fortunate in that I’ve still been able to keep a little flute teaching going, so I am still working in music, but aside from that, the only music jobs I get are either the volunteer flute choir that I play in just to keep my skills up, or the occasional wedding. (I could have kept teaching band at a local private school, but I HATED it.) So I’ve been working part-time retail to fill in the gaps for several years now.

    I think the main issue is what a lot of people have said–there just isn’t the demand for home ec in middle or high schools anymore, so colleges and universities probably see no need to offer degrees in that. I don’t know anyone among my friends who ever even had the option for a home ec class in their schools, and my school certainly didn’t have one–it was a private Christian school, and I was lucky that I even had band and art. Too bad, because I was making my own clothes back then too, and therefore would have rocked the sewing portion of the class. ;) It’s a shame, because with the economy being the way it is, knowing how to sew even on a mending level is a great skill to have. Not to mention stuff like cooking healthy food at home and making budgets and stuff. That last one definitely eluded my skill set. *eyeroll*

    I know it’s not quite the same thing, but have you ever considered doing some teaching online, like on Craftsy or something? I know your tutorials have helped me out more than once, and I could see your style working very well on there!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - As a New Yawker, I have to tell you…we didn’t have any sort of home EC in my Catholic high school. I do have a few friends from Long Island that had to make an apron but that’s the extent of it.

    I just don’t think the school system thinks it’s worth it (not an opinion I share obviously but it is what it is). Sewing is not considered practical until it makes sense for you (confusing yes). Most of you, my fellow sewing divas (and divos lol) started sewing out of curiosity, lack of funds (even though we all know sometimes making it ourselves can cost MORE…le sigh) or like me, not being able to find what I want, getting pissed off and saying forget this, I just have to make it. Sewing makes sense to us. Some of my friends tease me for my sewing nerdiness (my excitement about Sunni’s sewalong for example) but all of them support me on one hand and then shake their head in disbelief at the time and effort it takes. They think these things as adults…imagine the practicality of it to a teenager (nonexistent).

    Long-winded story short, to many people sewing is not a technical skill. It’s just a hobby. Until they start to think of it as a practical skill, sadly it will die out (in school at least). Very, VERY sad…

    Sorry for the round the world blabbing…:)ReplyCancel

  • CGCouture - It looks like we only have two colleges that offer this degree program (K-State and Pitt State), but there seems to be a number of options available for placement of people with these degrees. One difference from most places though is our higher population of certain religious groups, that still consider sewing an integral part of life instead of a hobby. I would imagine that you would (again) have to belong to certain religious groups in order to have guaranteed placement in some of the markets though.

    If you are serious about going back to school, personally, I would suggest some business classes. Accounting and management in particular because I think they would ultimately help you in your business. You don’t necessarily have to get another degree, but the education might prove useful.ReplyCancel

  • Clio - Wow. I seriously thought that Home Ec had gone the way of the dinosaur years ago! I went to Catholic high school in NYC (Bklyn, to be exact) and they cut the home ec program the year before I started (um, that would be about 20 yrs ago now). So, I didn’t realize that anyone else did actually still get home ec. I guess everyone’s experience is different.ReplyCancel

  • Linda, bathtub fabric queen - I’m a person who values education. I’m a doctoral candidate in the humanities and have 2 MAs (one in a “dead language”). I also worked in admissions at a major, highly competitive university. As a PhD candidate, I teach regularly at a few different universities so some of my impressions of the situation in education come from teaching classes at several universities that range from highly competitive to open enrollment and from working in admissions at the most competitive of those. (start rant now, get beverage)

    1- Enrollment in many categories of classes deemed non-college prep or non-academic has been dropping and continues to do so. Art and music seem to be doing better than some classes in some school districts because many students will seek art and music majors or scholarships so keeping these going– even barely– can be justified in the face of mighty budget cuts. Other courses or course categories are harder to justify if it can’t pay off in prep for a major, a scholarship, or be marshaled to serve the school in some way.

    2- From what I saw in admissions and from talking to my students, most students aren’t encouraged by either their guidance counselors or parents to take classes that aren’t going to impress admissions officers or scholarship committees. Once a kid has slotted all the AP or IB, or college prep classes he/she can into the schedule, they are encouraged to look for extra curricular activities like newspaper or yearbook, band or a sport that get a grade and take a class period because these activities look good and have opportunities for leadership. Given that some universities won’t consider a student without a certain number of AP courses (that number varies) or without 4-5 years of a foreign language, there is little space left for electives of any type for many students.

    3- More and more students pursue post-secondary options at local CC, colleges, and universities. So they really have no options for electives. They have to take a certain number of classes at the HS and spend the rest of their time at their post-secondary institution.

    The emphasis on AP and IB (which can pay off in college credits) and post-secondary enrollment (which pays off in college credits) is understandable because families don’t typically pay for them. Most school districts pay AP and IB exam fees and pay the enrollment/ tuition fees for post-secondary programs. NOT ALWAYS. Some districts provide the programs, but they expect the students (and their families) to cover the expenses themselves if they are excepted in the programs.

    4- As someone who finds value in education, the process, the learning (and not just the end of a paper that helps someone get a job), I am frustrated by the budget cuts that limit class options and the rote learning that is so emphasized and so stifling. But, as a college instructor, I can say there could be more emphasis in most every school district on basics. I’ve seen straight A students come out of lauded high schools who didn’t know what a verb was. I’ve seen kids come in with credit through AP for intro composition that didn’t know a sentence fragment is. I’ve had kids who didn’t know that World War II occurred AFTER World War I (apparently the names weren’t a give away). I had a student write a paper once about how the Great Depression took place after World War II because the country was so depressed about the bomb.

    Sorry for the suds… I feel very strongly about education and its value for people, and it so frustrates me that so many people don’t see education as a process with a value on its own detached from a paycheck. Or when people just see it as some kind of achievement for a grade without thinking about what can be learned and gained for its own sake. (end rant)ReplyCancel

  • Katie - I’m not sure what you think of Texas but I know a couple people who went through Baylor’s FCS programs (or related) and they seem to really enjoy it.
    http://www.baylor.edu/fcs/index.php?id=62107
    I wonder if you could do a minor in “apparel design” at the same time.
    You certainly do not need to be Baptist to enroll, I never attended a Baptist church until I moved here and I’ve lived with a: Buddhist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Atheist… you get the idea. But… it certainly isn’t cheap, Baylor is pretty decent about merit based scholarships but it is something to be aware of. Thankfully, Waco has a pretty low cost of living to help balance it out.

    Waco can be a sleepy little city but revitalization is picking up steam. But fair warning, it’s a bit like a Black Hole. People DH and I know will graduate, vow to never return to Waco and end up back here.

    The area I lived in on the east coast growing up did require FCS in middle school and offered some apparel and child development classes in high school (this was early 2000s). From what I hear from my mom who still teaches there is that they are phasing them out, they tried to do that with the music program but there is much more support for them.ReplyCancel

    • Katie - I should add that *everyone* was required to take two semesters of FCS in middle school. Even my little brother learned how to use a sewing machine (we made applique pillows from a kit, from what I hear he got in trouble for getting in “races” with the other boys), hand stitch (including buttons, a skill I wish my husband learned before he left college at the very least), cook, clean (including ironing), and make a budget. My brother graduated high school in 2010 so in 04-05 he was taking FCS (we weren’t allowed to call it Home Ec).ReplyCancel

  • purplepincushion - Home Ec. has been sadly fading out over the 20 years I have been out of high school. (secondary school in Minnesota) It is really kind of crazy that this is viewed as a “non essential” skills class (cooking is no longer taught either). Last time I checked we are all still wearing clothes and eating food:-p
    One option for reaching youth to teach sewing is through theater. Many colleges offer theater degrees in costume design. This is where I ended up in college. That is, if you really think you need a degree to teach sewing. If you are set on going back to school I would definitely go the theater route. You will learn tricks and techniques there that they will never teach you in the Fashion Design track.
    I don’t know about Utah, but here in Wisconsin opportunities abound for people willing to work with local community theater groups. No degree required. They are most likely not paying positions, but it may be a way for you to see a different sides of the sewing world. And a way to become involved with youth. High school show choirs are also always looking for seamstress/wardrobe people.
    Personally, I never finished my Costume Design BFA. I ran out of money to finish school. That has not stopped me from running my own custom sewing business for the last 10 years. If I were so inclined to teach I could open my own sewing school tomorrow. I get inquiries frequently about offering classes. Check out sewing lounges on goolge. That may be another alternative for you. There is one in Minneapolis that I have heard about (again, no degree required, just entrepreneurial spirit). http://www.sewinglounge.com/
    Just my thoughts!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I feel your pain, too! The most straightforward option for art studio (my degree) is teaching, and I’d much rather be MAKING. Being an artist isn’t at all what my family had in mind for me, so there’s always been much locking of horns on that issue. My home ec class (the one I had) consisted solely of baking cinnamon rolls. Not a single stitch was made. I learned to sew after college, solely because I wanted to learn. It’s a real shame that hands-on skills are being phased out because they’re aren’t considered as marketable. The business classes might be worth looking into (I’m considering it myself, to be honest!).ReplyCancel

  • Ruth - OK, Way out here in not USA – there is also a decline in the ‘home’ skills within the school curriculum. But you already have so many skills so why not teach instead of learn? What about a private college? You could set one up, teaching cooking, music therapy, sewing, repairing, home economy, etc as night classes or part-time day classes. Even get a charity/volunteer organisation to support you. I sympathise with you though, I have had to do a Masters that fitted with the uni’s agenda rather than what I was really interested in. Good luck – it will all work out in the end.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Ann Thompson - I’m 62 years old, consider the source…..
    After I learned to read, do arithmetic, and some basic history, English, and geography, EVERYTHING else I neaded to know, to make my way in the world, I learned in Home Ec!!!
    I admired Home Ec teachers, like no one else.
    Many of my close friends became Home Ec teachers, but even 40 years ago, you had to go to a ‘Land Grant’ college to find that sort of carreer. With in 20 years all of my Home Ec teaching friends, had either changed their subjects, or changed carreers, altogether. One, who became a School Counselor actually told me, “There is no need for Home Ec education anymore. We expect our HS graduates to pay someone to do those things for them.” What? What? What?
    It didn’t make any sense to me then. It doesn’t make any sense to me now.ReplyCancel

    • Linda, bathtub fabric queen - I think that relates to the “culture of attainment” we have. Many, if not most, people want to be wealthy and have infinite leisure to do whatever they want and have someone take on the tasks they don’t like- be it cooking, cleaning, mending garments, walking dogs, wiping baby butts, whatever. So many people valorize celebrities, and their ability to jet set, have multiple lavish homes, a personal chef to cater to their palates, a trainer to help them maintain their red carpet looks… and our culture convinces a lot of people to want that for themselves.

      Most people know that most of us do NOT live that way. And that most kids are going to need to know how to make some meals, put in a hem, sew on a button, do their laundry, and make a basic mend to a garment. Most people know kids will grow up and have to clean their own houses, and they will also have to work up the motivation to work out and lead themselves through their paces without some mesh tank top wearing fitness guru adjusting the treadmill.

      We live in an empire of images, and many of those images work to convince us that we are entitled to and should want a life of leisure and pleasure and wealth.ReplyCancel

  • liza jane - I looked in to this recently. I saw a job posting for a fashion design and construction teacher in my district. I am a certified art teacher and I’ve been looking for something different. But, I was told I had to be certified in family and consumer sciences. There is only one school in town that offers that degree and same thing- you have to be a certain christian denomination. I wondered the same thing- who actually gets a family and consumer sciences degree and where do they get it from? It seems like there aren’t many places that offer it yet there is a demand for it. The job posting has been there for months now. They still haven’t filled the position.ReplyCancel

    • liza jane - Ok, I came back to clarify my comment. When I say I looked in to that job, I meant that I looked in to what it would take to be certified to teach design and construction. I wasn’t trying to imply that I’m already qualified to teach it. I was hoping there would be some sort of add on to the teaching certificate I already have. I was frustrated to find out it was a whole four year degree– basically starting over. It was even more frustrating to find out that there are no schools nearby that offer that degree, except one. Anyway, I was just mulling it over…ReplyCancel

  • Chancy - Maybe other people have already said this, but I’m pretty sure a part of it is due to the lack of educational funding. Since Home Ec isn’t necessary to graduate, pass standardize testing and the “Leave no child behind” initiative, or essential learning skills, it isn’t deemed important enough to spend money on. And since schools won’t spend money on teaching it, why would colleges provide a program/degree in it? The same thing is happening for other arts programs and sports as well.

    Personally I think this is SO sad. While these things may not teach us how to add (although there is math involved in pattern drafting) or US history (although again one could add a talk about the industrial movement and how it applied to sewing) they do teach us all kinds of lessons. How to actually apply math, how effort begets reward, perseverance, creative thinking, self-expression, how failure isn’t necessarily the end of the world, etc. So many things can be learned in Home Ec, arts, sports that aren’t necessarily learned in a traditional classroom setting. And as the sad state of US public education shows, solely focusing on what is “required learning” isn’t exactly improving childhood education.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica M. - I just want to add that teaching HS isn’t a dream job for everyone: few of the students will share your enthusiasm. Can it be rewarding? Yes. But also very draining in a way that you might find similar to your working with middle schoolers. Also, the home ec class at the HS where I taught had very little sewing. You might look into teaching a continuing education sewing class at a community college (like beginning sewing): most non college credit classes don’t have the same degree requirements for instructors. The downside to that route is that the teaching load is part time because of the demand and also because it’s not part of a degree program (I’m in NC). Best wishes!ReplyCancel

  • Jenelle - Sunni, I don’t have a lot of specific advice in terms of pursuing the coursework needed to become certified to teach FACS, but I can tell you as a recent graduate of a masters level creative professional degree program that getting a creative degree in today’s economy should be a decision you consider carefully. Adding student debt to the challenging prospect of finding a stable job in your chosen field can make for a stressful situation, especially when more experience rather than more education is what some employers are actually looking for. If I were you, I would explore the widest range of possible teaching opportunities in both the private and public sector and really get a sense for what the requirements are for those positions. You may be surprised that you don’t in fact need to go back to school, or that a certification program would be enough. I would recommend doing lots of research, talking to as many people as you can, maybe even doing some substitute teaching or job shadowing, all while staying connected to where you would like to end up career-wise. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I have looked locally and found some classes at my local G-Street Fabric. The classes seem specific to fitting pants, fitting a skirt, creating a sloper or block pattern or installing zippers. But I haven’t looked into it too deep. I think school is well worth it and if you feel it will advance your career to have the additional knowledge I’d say do it. I think for what your looking into (sewing) you might have to go outside your geographical area. It’s just not all that popular anymore. I think most people view sewing as a hobby since we don’t have to sew our own clothes.ReplyCancel

  • Tia - I live in Nashville and although I could be wrong, but I don’t think they offer Home Ec at any of the high schools in the city. When I was in school 20 years ago it was offered in high school but not mandatory and I took shop instead. Now I wish I had taken it. You don’t need to be Donna Reed or even want to be her, but the basic skilsl learned in Home Ec would have been useful and money-saving.ReplyCancel

  • Erin - I agree it’s sad but not that surprising. Back in the 90′s when I was in middle school a quarter of home ec was required in 7th grade. My sister was in another school district and didn’t even have that – we’re only 2 years apart! Most of my friends never took a home ec class and I’m sure that’s only gotten worse. It seems most people who sew now are essentially self taught. I’m the only one of my friends who can do any sort of sewing aside from reattaching a button. Maybe. They’re always surprised when I tell them I made something they think is cute. They watch Project Runway and am shocked that I don’t but personally I’d rather actually sew than watch other people do it. One has started assuming that anything I wear that’s new I must have made. (In a good way!) But another called it an “old fashioned hobby.” In general I’ve found it’s guys who are overall the most impressed.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - Just wanted to clarify, you CAN attend BYU without being LDS. They do not exclude students based on religious affiliation, but yes it is predominantly LDS. But there are catholics, lutherans, etc.ReplyCancel

    • Emily - I agree with Rebecca. I went to BYU and had a few friends who aren’t LDS. My dad actually went there and he wasn’t LDS either. I so wish I’d taken home ec! I think you’d be a great instructor!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • ladykatza - So here’s my thought for this “Family and Consumer Sciences”, because we no longer value the home-maker in our society. And thanks to fast and cheap fashion, no one appreciates the work and hours that go into well made clothes. For just about every item you see me post about you are looking at anywhere from 3-40 hours worth of labor alone. So, charging the equivalent of my hourly rate of my paid job that’s anywhere from $84 -$1120 for one article of clothing. And I won’t take less than that because otherwise its not worth my time. This is why I don’t sew for anyone that doesn’t live in my house.

    I’m too young to be this cynical and jaded.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - Move to Washington State! You can get a degree in FACS and Central Washington University! http://www.cwu.edu/family-consumer/
    I almost went back to school there for the nutrition program (part of the FACS), but decided I didn’t want to move out of Seattle…ReplyCancel

  • Linda Perkins - In my area of California due to budget cuts we no longer have home ec programs in our high schools. We have consumer science, but that is bill paying and financial planning. They no longer teach sewing or cooking. Budget cuts are also cutting out music, art, fieldtrips, and many “extras” that used to be the norm. If it does not have a way to further the standardized test scores it is being dropped. Sad but true. The only way to get any type of instruction on sewing or other “home arts” is from family or at a class geared for kids and teens such as Martha Pullen’s School of Art Fashion for kids. We are poorer for it.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - I’ve taught at two private religious high schools in California that had Home Ec, but only one of them actually involved any sewing. Before teaching at those schools, I’d never heard of any schools offering that class, much less a public one. I think the previous commenters have hit the nail on the head exactly…there’s just no funding for a class that very few students want to take anyway. Even at my last school, where they specifically had a sewing class (how amazing is that!), with a very good teacher (I learned a lot just subbing for her class), the students seemed slightly offended that it took that much time to make an article of clothing. They seemed to expect Forever 21 looks at Forever 21 time/money investment rates. I would love to branch out into teaching sewing as well as science, but I think it might be a pipe dream. That said, there seem to be quite a few state universities in CA that offer FACS degrees!ReplyCancel

  • CoudreMode - I can tell you why it died out: Title IX the 1972 law that ended discrimination based on gender. I’m 54 (my birthday is today actually) and when I was a girl we are not allowed to be so many of things girls can be today: athletes, doctors, lawyers, scientists, , mayors, senators, Secretary of State and yes – even President. I was taught to sew because it was considered training to make me a good wife and mother and being a wife and mother was the almost only option a girl had other than nursing or secretarial school. “Mad Men” is not fantasy. I do see your point and schools don’t totally neglect sewing, in my daughters middle school last year all the kids, even the boys learned to sew and cook in “Life Skills”. But I doubt any of us really wants to go back to a time when someone like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who graduated 1st in her law school class, had to work as a secretary because no one would hire her as a attorney. Sewing is definitely a skill that should be part of education but I doubt anyone wants to go back to the 50′s in terms of opportunity for women.ReplyCancel

    • Gail Ann Thompson - Yes, that is exactly how it was. In fact, a graduation requirement (for girls) in my Public High School was 6 semesters of Home Ec. This included, not only cooking, sewing, and child development, but budgeting as well as, how to decern the quality of workmanship and material, in purchased goods, whether clothing or furniture. The idea being that only a fool would spend her hard earned money on poor quality goods!!! These days finding high quality goods, of any sort, is the greater challenge. Also EVERY day began with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance to the Flag. Even though I went to school in the Upper Great Lakes region of the US, no girl was allowed to attend any school related activity wearing pants. Sounds like the dark ages, doesn’t it?? No, I graduated in 1969.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Oldham Burns - I work in the higher education field and budget cuts since mid- 1990s have forced higher education to review all programs that they offer. So, unfortunately, that is one program that is being cut. I am encouraged by the sewing community online and I know that the sewing industry will survive this downturn.ReplyCancel

  • noreen - I work in a vocational school in MA (my second voc school, actually) and the state dept of education has eliminated the fashion and design vocation as program because there just are no jobs in the USA for students anymore. It was very sad, but an economic reality.

    By the way – I thought non-Mormons could go to BYU (if they had the money, or course.).ReplyCancel

  • Belinda Goodwin - Hi Sunni,
    I received my degree from a land grant college (Michigan State Univ.) in the 80′s. I went on to work in retail and manufacturing, as well as my own custom design business. I ended the business because at the time, there weren’t enough individuals willing to pay the value of my services. I now live in Los Angeles. I went back to school and got a MA degree in Education, Technology Based Ed. I wasn’t originally planning to teach, but I was in school with teachers from K-12 getting masters to increase their worth and paycheck. I also had 2 great professors with great teaching skills. I learned a lot about teaching. I began teaching part time at a community college in 2007. I also started at CSU Northridge as a part time teacher in 2008. Although categorized as part time, I taught 4 or 5 classes a semester. I got very comfortable and then, the CSU system began cutting the budgets and courses. Part timers are the first to go. My classes were all taken by full time instructors or professors, because their course load was reduced.

    I am still teaching the same course I began teaching a the community college and have been looking for additional positions at other community colleges. Well, most programs at community colleges have only one or two full time instructors and they are considered first when there are any budget cuts or their course is canceled for the term. They can then bump you off and take yours for the term. Needless to say there aren’t many jobs out there in the industry to want to be in. I am looking at other opportunities in education, since my MA is in education. But, the competition is out there.

    I am working at building my business with specific products, not so much custom design. Many people want to be designers and stylists in this town (which has a garment industry). We have FIDM, The Art Institutes, Otis Design, and others. Today more focus is on basic sewing skills, design, pattern making, and merchandising that can be applied to the garment industry. They don’t even teach the high level sewing and construction skills I learned in undergrad. Most students feel if they become designers they won’t need to sew, because in those businesses someone else is sewing.

    A few high schools have home economic/fashion classes here because of the industry and the colleges I mentioned above. Students need to have some skills to get into the colleges.

    I agree with the responder who mentioned that our young people have stars in their eyes and really buy into the reality shows. Everyone wants to be a star, but of course only a few will become one.

    I suggest you forget about teaching, you may still be doing secretarial work. Go to community colleges and get all the additional skills you want. Then start your own business using those skills and the creativity you already have. Good luck.ReplyCancel

  • Belinda Goodwin - I forgot to mention that after 5 months of looking for teaching assignments, I have been lucky enough to be brought on board to teach 3 classes at one of the design schools I mentioned starting next month. I am happy about it, but again, my focus is on making my business successful, while continuing to teach part time or full time if the opportunity comes along.ReplyCancel

  • VictoriaR - This is a very interesting discussion. I am 57 and Home Ec was a graduation requirement in my state when I was in school. The class I took was not very helpful and if you didn’t already know how to sew you were at a total loss. I was already a sewer and I greatly resented having this extra requirement added to my GPA that BOYS DID NOT HAVE. I’ll repeat that, boys had no equivalent requirement. I think the dying out of Home Ec is partly due to the idea that it used to be assumed girls needed these skills and boys did not. Now it is assumed no one needs them. I think all people would benefit from “domestic” skills and have fun, learn math, and have an artistic outlet as well. I do think there may be a stigma with trying to pursue this course of study and that is why it is most often offered at (I assume) conservative, religious schools.ReplyCancel

  • francesca - You totally should teach – from your site alone, I can tell you would be a wonderful and inspriational teacher!

    I’m not from the US – my island, Malta, used to have loads of fabric shops and people used to sew or go to dressmakers and tailors. The advent of the Mangos and Zaras has put paid to that and there are now just three fabric shops – 2 that stock pricey dressy fabric – and one that stocks a wider range… but I usually end up having to buy stuff on line. You are lucky to have fabric shops everywhere…ReplyCancel

  • Lori - Hello,
    I am a Family Consumer Science educator. I teach in Wisconsin at the middle and high school level. I have varied classes teaching life skills, cooking, baking, budgeting, nutrition, sewing and interpersonal/relationships. I received my degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Here in Wisconsin we have three colleges you can go to receive a degree. The two other colleges are Madison and Stevens Point. I have taught for nine years it is a very rewarding career but also very demanding physically.ReplyCancel

  • Marcy - There are degrees here for textiles and sewing; I’m not sure if you are meaning very specific to teaching Home Ec, but I think it’s just moved from public schools and universities to the private sector. Look up the Art Institute (a national chain). Our local Art Institute has had several students go on to Project Runway and careers in sewing or teaching.

    There’s a big revival in learning sewing in people my age (20′s and 30′s) and these people are pursuing the knowledge on their one. There are at least six places to take sewing classes in my city (Portland) ranging from absolute beginners to industrial pattern design.

    Forcing it on an often-unwilling audience (middle- and high-schoolers) is not going to be as gratifying as teaching a class to a group who signed up and paid to be there.

    I took FACS in middle school and enjoyed the class okay but the online sewing scene is what has really sparked my love for sewing over ten years later.ReplyCancel

  • Dori - What has happened in this neck of the woods–(upstate NY) My sister has her masters in teaching home ec. She has been laid off and having a difficult time even finding a school district that is offering it. The problem is that most communities have cut all of these so called “extras” in school curriculum . I mean they are even cutting school nurses and many sports programs. So I can understand why many colleges are doing away with these programs.ReplyCancel

  • CClay - So if you are looking into college degrees that are associated with sewing and teaching those skills I would say the “home ec” type degrees are being sort of crowed out by art and fashion school degrees. I have my degree in Fibers & Sculptural Forms which veers to the art side and you will find there are degrees in Textiles and there are also Fashion degrees of all sorts. These are the types of things that have become more common. These are the degrees schools are looking for, in tandem with a teaching degree/certification that gets you hired as an art/art type teacher right now. The school I attended offers a 5 year BFA/MAT dual program that has an extremely high job placement rate.

    I also think the skills and teaching have moved from the classroom to places like stitch lounges and independent studios that offer classes and after school programs. I teach in a stitch lounge and my students are mostly girls age 8 to 18. I guess you could call what I do being the modern version of a Home Ec teacher except that my classes are all voluntary and supplement “regular” school education.

    All in all, these types of jobs still exist but they are changing dramatically and have mostly moved out of public education into the private sector.ReplyCancel

  • Lavender - I LOVE the sewing lessons I’ve taught the middle school kids. It has been fantastic. Of course, it’s volunteer work, and I do need to make a living. I didn’t even know these degrees existed, and it sounds like they don’t, for the most part. The rise in independent studios is a counterpoint, but they don’t really address kids, or if they do have kid’s classes, they’re probably too expensive for a lot of parents. That’s part of the whole argument that craft in general is kind of bougie at this point in history. Which drives me craaaazy! I’ve been mulling the idea of starting a non-profit that teaches children these skills.ReplyCancel

  • Kristen - I took sewing, cooking, and childcare (last of which was taught by my mom!) in high school and later returned to high school to teach fashion production. I only taught for a year because then my husband and I married and moved to Pennsylvania. It was a fabulous year though that I will never forget. Even the students that are put into that class without a desire to sew find themselves having fun. I really look forward to someday returning to the classroom setting, and can only hope it hasn’t completely died out. These skills are so important to help students focus, provide a break from the books, and help them realise there are other options out there. Best of luck in your decision and search.ReplyCancel

  • Lara - I have only been sewing since October, but I have now been tasked with starting up a fashions program at my school. Needless to say, I am excited about it, but also very nervous. I am a music teacher by education (I originally wanted to be a professional musician, but… you know… :), so this will be a bit different to say the least. I did look at doing some professional development in this area, and thankfully my old University does have an ecology department dedicated to sewing. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be worth my time right now to take it. It’ll be expensive and I’m not even sure I’d have all the prerequisites. For now, I am content with doing lots of self study at home. More fun, and a heck of a lot cheaper!ReplyCancel

  • melissa - Oh, I’m not sure if you’d even want to, but you can totally go to BYU if you aren’t Mormon (which I’m inferring is what you meant). I went there, and 3/4 of the time had non-Mormon roommates. But of course, there’s the issue of wanting to deal with the Mormonness all around you, which of course is the case. And I’m pretty sure you’d have to agree to follow BYU rules, which again, you may not want to do at this stage in your life! But the professors and classes are all top notch.ReplyCancel