My journey as a home science teacher started in 1998 at the Army Public School, Meerut Cantt. I started teaching with just two students and gradually was able to draw their interest to the subject, but this was not an easy task. I had to talk to them and win their confidence and bribe them with cooking classes.
In the beginning, I conducted a class activity in the form of a mini-survey among my home Science students (Class X1) about what their parents and family felt about this subject. The results were disappointing because most parents felt that only girls should learn home science and do the household chores or even child care.
The major issue is the name itself. I am relieved that it is now known as human ecology and family sciences. When the word ‘home’ is pre-fixed to the name of the subject it narrows down its scope.
Another major challenge is the view that this subject is meant only for girls. I had to convince boys by going to each section of my school and talk to them about its importance if they decided to opt for hotel management.
The issues in introducing the subject at school level arise because of the thinking that this subject has no professional uptake. Another challenge was that in the human development section, students were not interested in learning about motor, social, and emotional development of children from 0 to 11 years. They could not relate to it. However, when it came to studying about adolescence and development, they showed interest.
Moreover in cities like Meerut, there are no good home science colleges to impart education at the professional and university level. So there is lack of interest to take up this subject in class 11 and 12.
The Hindi medium home science syllabus is again focused only on household chores, cooking and childcare.
It is also seen that if any boy opts for home science, his peer group teases him about it. This reflects the mindset of the society regarding this subject which needs to be changed.
There is always a dearth of qualified and trained teachers in home science at the school level because post graduate home science teachers often do not take up teaching in schools. It is their last resort.
As a home science teacher your teaching style should reach out to the hearts of students as this subject is all about human ecology and family sciences.
Teachers need to encourage students to use the knowledge acquired in their daily life to better their lives and of all those around them so that they become better human beings. As the saying goes if you educate a woman the whole family gets educated.
Here are some suggestions to improve the status of the subject in school:
- It should be introduced in class 6 in schools.
- It should be part of work education as one of the options along with music and art.
- The school laboratory should be well-equipped to handle home science practicals.
- Career counselling for home science should also be done by successful professionals because students do not get first hand information about the various career options.
As I retire I feel proud that I am able to influence my students to be a better version of themselves.
Many of them have chosen this subject and are pursuing home science at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in Lady Irwin College and Home Economics Institute in Delhi.
The author has been teaching home science at the Army Public School, Meerut Cantt. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.