Thursday, March 11, 2010

Domestic Engineering

When I was a senior in high school, one of my teachers did a quick poll to see who was going to college (I think just about everyone) and what we were going to study or what we thought we would do after school. And one of the first questions he asked was "Does anyone want to be a domestic engineer?" I knew exactly what that meant and was tempted to raise my hand, but at the time thought that was mutually exclusive to a career (and in the context of his question, it kind of was) so I didn't vote for that option.

I've started thinking about it and if that was your goal, what would you study in college to achieve that, regardless of whether you're a male or female? Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the repressed home economics teacher from Mona Lisa Smile and her class where they were discussing the finer points of a last-minute dinner party to impress the boss of one's husband. This is clearly not necessarily what the modern domestic engineer would need in terms of basic education, but home economics isn't a bad place to start. The one thing I dislike about the home ec. education of yester-year is the assumption that 1) the student is female 2) she plans to marry 3) she will have children. Because none of these can or should be assumed.

I'm not aware of a degree program that even comes close to what I am envisioning, but if one existed, what would it look like? I think the question is ultimately "what are the skills required to effectively maintain a home that is both comfortable and functional?" Here are some classes I think would be beneficial in creating a well-rounded domestic engineer.

Basic Psychology and Sociology - particularly developmental psychology and/or family systems theory along with general studies on social interaction

Nutrition and/or basic food preparation

Business - particularly basic accounting and/or personal finance

Art and Design - any type of introductory course that deals with the basics of color, light, and composition

Intro to Horticulture

Basic First Aid and CPR

If I were to create this as a degree program (that would obviously be in addition to basic education requirements) one thing I would not require, is childcare or education. As I said before, those are no longer assumptions that can or should be made about the modern domestic engineer. However, electives in things like education and childcare should certainly be available to those interested.

So what have I left out? What should I change?

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