British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver caused a stir recently when he offed a chicken in front of a live, studio audience. The demonstration's point (buy ethically reared fowl), and perhaps the demonstration itself, would be right at home in the U.K.'s new curriculum. Starting in September, all British 11- to 14-year-olds currently enrolled in food technology courses (85 percent of them) will take mandatory cooking classes as part of the government's anti-obesity strategy. Ed Balls, Britain's schools secretary, has also proposed a new secondary curriculum that includes lessons on practical cooking skills and wise grocery shopping. Meanwhile, American home economics classes are rapidly diminishing. (The effects are showing, and the Brits are jeering.) A 2000 study in the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences Education predicted that by 2012, 77 percent of American home economics teachers will have retired. And because U.S. schools are eliminating family and consumer science programs, those home economics instructors who haven't retired will have a tough time finding jobs. But it's a flat world, and flights from Kennedy to Heathrow are going for less than $200 (3.71 GBP). Yankees who want to teach cooking to 13-year-olds need only learn how to whip-up a mean Welch Rarebit, and hop on a plane.
"Obese teenagers to be taught how to cook," by Natalie Paris and agencies, The Daily Telegraph, January 23, 2008
"Shortage of ‘Home Economics' Teachers Could Become an Issue," by Marisa Maldonado, Associated Press, January 21, 2008