My dad, the littlest bird of Three Little Birds fame,, came home from third grade with a note on his report card from his teacher that read, "Bernie has been a little belligerent lately". Not surprisingly, my dad, an independent force from almost the day he was born, was testing the limits in homeroom. Also not surprisingly, his littlest bird, (yours truly) seemed to be sometimes on the belligerent side as well.
My belligerent dad grew up and married a sweetheart of a lady, who's never had a belligerent bone in her body. Mom is all things sweetness and light. Wanting what they considered to be "best" for us, they sent us to a school, which, not surprisingly, I did not like.
Bored and uninterested in cooperating, making the best of an unhappy situation, I dug in my heels and resolved to do private school on my terms. Disengaged and determined to show the world how stupid I thought this decision was, I sometimes elected not to cooperate, do homework, make friends, or show any enthusiasm for anything except for home ec. and gym.
A result of my fierce independence and penchant for insubordination, I frequently found myself in detention for various infractions such as tardiness, absenteeism, dress code violations, and my strong opinions about the school's annual donkey basketball fundraiser.
Ready to celebrate my entrepreneurial and enterprising streak, I convinced our assistant principal to allow me to spend my time in detention in the home ec. classroom, organizing and alphabetizing the kitchen cabinets. Though I was mostly a delinquent (as most chefs are), I enjoyed home ec., and took the class nearly every quarter, alternating, of course, with gym.
Home ec. was a foundational piece of my early years as a culinarian. Had I not been exposed to the domestic arts in high school, I most likely would not have entered culinary school at Schoolcraft when I was 17. Culinary school was a revelation, an awakening, a dream-come-true.
I recently read a column in the New York Times about how home ec. should be brought back to the curriculum in junior high and high school as a means of combating childhood obesity. While I can't speak to the effectiveness of the domestication of our young people as a tool to keep them trim, I can attest to the brilliance of instilling self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-exploration in the hearts and minds of our next generation.
Stacy Sloan; Chef & Founder of Three Little Birds