During my high school years (1943-1948), the standard curriculum called for all girls to take one semester of home economics and all boys to take a presumably equivalent semester of “shop.” There was the occasional girl who expressed a preference for shop, but I recall no interest in home economics among my male classmates.

Times have certainly changed, but the need for preparation for everyday practical life as well as for intellectual growth is as real as ever. I find myself thinking of the possibility of a semester course for both boys and girls devoted to homemaking and parenting. I see three obvious benefits, with a less obvious fourth:

• First, each gender would hear what the other expected of it and would need to consider openly what it was willing to provide.

• Second, gender differences would be discussed as distinct from sexual differences, pressing toward a more mature view of the latter.

• Third, the students would find themselves looking at their own home situations more thoughtfully, looking more clinically at what was working and what was not.

• Also, perhaps more subtly, serious attention would be given to the perennial “homemaking vs. career” debate, giving attention to one of the roots of the current plague of homelessness.

The Parent Effectiveness Training materials and programs developed by psychologist Thomas Gordon in the 1970s came on just as my own parenting years were drawing to a close, but they certainly rang true retrospectively.

George Frederick Dole

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