– Everyday life can occasionally be rough. When our personal finances and relationships go smoothly, life is wonderful. But if we run out of money or face a global or domestic crisis, our lives can suddenly be shaken to the core, says Hille Janhonen-Abruquah, Professor of Home Economics.
During such times, we need everyday life skills and creativity.
– The past few years have been very unusual, and everyday life has been rather unpredictable. The coronavirus pandemic and the energy crisis have changed the way we spend our time at home, and tips for saving electricity, for example, have become incredibly valuable.
Home economics skills are necessary at every stage of life, but the ability to adapt them to changing circumstances is especially important in times of crisis.
– That, and keeping the home and personal environment cosy for everyone despite all the challenges. Basic skills related to housing, food and cleanliness help make everyday life meaningful in a sensible way. Home economics has an important role in this, explains Janhonen-Abruquah, who started work as Professor of Home Economics at the University of Eastern Finland at the beginning of the year.
Well functioning and joyful everyday life
The coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to stay at home for a time. According to Janhonen-Abruquah, our everyday life skills kept us going during that time.
– We started baking our own bread, ordering groceries online and redecorating our homes. Then we made posts about our activities on social media and shared the joy with others. This is exactly the kind of everyday creativity that I greatly appreciate.
We are living in the midst of various societal changes, so sticking to a single way of doing things is not sensible. Instead, we need to remain agile in our everyday life.
– In my opinion, we in home economics have a responsibility to teach and spread knowledge about the skills relating to this kind of agility. But individual people also have a personal responsibility to teach skills to their own children and to the people around them. Everyday life rarely goes smoothly, but we have various means for making it well functioning and safe – and, of course, joyful.
Home economics skills are also important for primary school pupils
For the aforementioned reasons, Janhonen-Abruquah wishes that home economics teaching would begin in primary school. The current curriculum enables this, but at the moment only a few primary schools teach home economics.
– This is largely because universities in Finland don’t have the resources to train class teachers for home economics. I think this is a missed opportunity; building the basics of everyday skills in food, nutrition, personal finances and responsible living should already be started in primary school.
These topics are occasionally touched on in other subjects, but home economics differs from those subjects by its hands-on approach.
– Studies in primary school could begin with preparing delicious snacks, cleaning one’s sneakers, or with any other topic that is relatable and important for the pupils’ everyday life.
One benefit of home economics is that it can be easily combined with other subjects.
– Home economics could support the study of larger entities or phenomena in primary schools: History lessons on a certain time period could be complemented by cooking food from that era, and wild herbs studied in biology classes could be used in cooking during home economics classes.