Home Economics 2.0

I’ve spent the better part of my career in technical support roles; hours upon hours equating RAM to freeways and CPU-cores to cooks in a kitchen. Countless individuals taking backup advice with a “ya, sure” and a head nod. People terrified over the word “server” and unassuming over the word “cloud”. It baffles me how such basic knowledge is so foreign.

We spend large parts if not the majority of our days wrapped up in feeds and phones, devices and displays. How is it that none of us understand the fundamentals of how they operate?

I am not talking about the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) behind everyday objects. I am not talking about teaching higher level concepts or tinkering with “niche” concepts like geometry, chemistry, or physics. I am talking about the everyday. I am talking about principle understanding of devices we fear to go without. Tools we use more than anything else in our lives!

Why is it that computer classes are electives? Why is it that those enamored with video games are the only ones expected to understand the relationship between browser tabs and RAM? Why is it that those obsessed with science fiction, participating in chess club, or enrolled in AP classes are the only ones expected to understand the severities of hard shutdowns? Why should cookies, encryption, or battery drain be mysteries to anyone born into today’s world; mysteries to those touching unfathomable technology at 12-months-old?

This is not STEM. This is fundamental. This is commonplace. This is home economics.

Wikipedia:

Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), also known as home economics, is the profession and field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and community.[1]The field deals with the relationship between individuals, families, and communities, and the environment in which they live.

As a subject of study, FCS is taught in secondary schoolscolleges and universitiesvocational schools, and in adult education centers; students include women and men. It prepares students for homemaking or professional careers, or to assist in preparing to fulfill real-life responsibilities at home. As a profession, it includes educators in the field and human services professionals.[2]

The field represents many disciplines including consumer science, nutrition, food preparation, parenting, early childhood education, family economics and resource management, human developmentinterior designtextiles, apparel design, as well as other related subjects. Family and Consumer Sciences education focuses on individuals and families living in society throughout the life span, thus dealing not only with families but also with their interrelationships with the communities. Other topics such as sexual educationfood management, and fire prevention might also be covered.

Not a single mention of computers, yet nearly half of our time is spent in front of a screen. (Source: KPCB)

The misunderstanding or incomprehension of OS differences, dot-version subtleties, and computer languages can be expected. What should not be expected is the misunderstanding of “memory” versus “disk space” or the incomprehension of a kilo/mega/giga/tera/petabyte.

I do not fault those without basic computer knowledge or those born into this embarrassing system. There are simple things about computers I’m sure I do not wholeheartedly understand. There are simple things I use every day that I don’t understand. I drive a car to work and still have a very little idea of how it operates. I’m intimidated by the cable, electric, and gas lines in my home. Hand me a toggle bolt (yes, I had to look it up) and I would swear it was a missing piece from an Erector Set. I’m a music junkie and I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the technology behind vinyl records and cassette tapes, let alone speakers themselves!

The lack of basic knowledge about the technology we utilize day-in and day-out, the technology we can’t go five minutes without touching, tapping, refreshing, or waking gives me chills. I’m sure I get more pleasure from solving technological problems for people than most, but I sure as hell get tired of the same questions day-in and day-out. I know this is much bigger than a blog post, but his needs to stop. Redefine Home Ec 101 and make it mandatory.

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