curriculae for adults -- from jmg blog

alice's picture

Was reading JMG's blog this week and was struck both by the mention of The Strenuous Life and also this comment of Kimberley Steele's

". . . I’d love to see a feminine version that encourages women to learn traditional life skills such as cooking, baking, knitting & crocheting, plant propagation, herbal medicine preparation, and first aid/nursing. Of course there could be badges for more traditionally masculine-associated skills such as target shooting, carpentry, or wilderness survival."

It actually struck me that it would be interesting to see if there is a market for what i would call the essential skills of family life: for women who take the motherhood path there are definite skills to acquire, from self-led health care and fitness for pregnancy, self-hypnosis and other pain relief techniques in preparation for childbirth, breastfeeding knowledge and practice, and cooking for a family including nutrition for infants and children, of course this can be studied by anyone wanting a family. I know I was surprised by how many textbooks there were to digest and learn from in pregnancy and nursing and it would be great if women were in general more aware that there is so much they can do to look after their own health and their infants' during the childbearing years. I felt that my education had completely failed to prepare me to the extent that it was a surprise to find out what a large body of knowledge there was to learn all of a sudden when I had already started down that road and I know I meet ladies who are well into their young family years who for instance have not had the support they would have needed to successfully breastfeed their infants. Anyway I know even discussing this stuff is wildly unfashionable or even countercultural but I know there are ladies (and gents) here whose opinions on this topic I would be interested to read.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Hi Alice. I originally posted the link to The Strenuous Life over there! Thanks for taking notice.

I was kind of wondering what people would think of the male focus of the Strenuous Life... and here I know at least one thought (I hadn't read through all of the comments on the most recent ecosophia post -though I did read most... I missed the one from Kimbereley)

I certainly think a female oriented course or group or ...something... along these lines would be well received. Obviously you and Kimberley are interested. (I'm not sure if the name "Strenuous Wife" would be well received...but it did pop into my head :)

From the other commenters over on that post I saw that most Girl Scout troops don't really teach much beyond cookie marketing.

I always thought it was a shame that "Home Economics" such a vital set of skills for man and woman, was thrown of out of school curriculums. It is obvious people need to be writing some new curriculum's, for men, for women, for boys, girls, adolescents, all of us.

If I ever do sign up to participate in the Strenuous Life I will share my experiences on this forum. In the meantime it would be interesting to see what others here would see on a curricula.

I would add music, poetry, hospitality, entertaining to Kimberley's list.

alice's picture

Oh great, thanks for weighing in JPM. Yes it's occurred to me that a lot of what I do now as a mam at home is Home Economics related -- but all I learned until my extensive 'on the job training was one lesson a week for the year in school when I was 10. It wasn't seen as important, the idea was we would just be able to buy everything from shops or restaurants. Now I am learning more herbs to forage each year, cooking and learning more skills each year, growing more plants.

I had to laugh at 'The strenuous wife'. Brilliant. It's funny, it's so counter-cultural it almost needs to be a secret invitation-only fraternal organization. Maybe the smart mams I know could start compiling our wisdom and nominate each others' daughters for initiation when they get to the age to be interested?? I get an idea that there are circles (the most conservative religious communities?) where some of this stuff is being passed along, but those circles are also hard for outsiders to learn from.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Thinking more about this theme I got the idea of GW merit badges -of course open to any gender. I have some old scout manuals that list the requirements for various merit badges. The one I have from the '50s is way harder than the ones I had when I was a scout in the early nineties. One way to think up lists for various GW merit badges might be based on the 13 circles of Green Wizardry. What would be merit badges for each of the 13 circles. Then certain requirements, and a way of documenting the work, would be taken up to earn the badge for each circle. It might be a fun way to motivate people. Just an idea any way...

Some GW merit badges...:

Rain Water Harvesting
First Aid
Radio Communications
Letter Writing
Knot Tying

These could then be the basis for various skill articles on this site. Anyway, there is always a lot to do. I've been trying to do more with my grandson every week since I've been off from the library due to Co(r)vid-19. I thought about being involved in a local scout troop with him, but like others on the ecosophia blog you linked too, even though I loved the scouts myself, I'm a bit loathe to get him attached to that particular system due to its "tainted sphere"... something new -or built off the Woodcraft movement- might be better.

alice's picture

It's not quite the same but we were really enjoying our Forest School sessions, lots of teachers local to us.

mountainmoma's picture

I started this with one of mine when homeschooling, well thought out and set up, but we only did it for a few activities -- just timing age and conflict with teenaged activities and I let it slide, regretted not doing more in the program. If I had started it when she was younger, we would have pulled in other local girls and had it more than virtual.

Here is just a recent shot of the forum, showing it is still active

mountainmoma's picture

These are not generalized, some sections were made specifically for things to be done at paul Wheatons site in Montana, but most of it can be done anywhere, and there are links to things like you tube videos on how to do it, and pictures of others end product.

SOme things are simple, around the house clean up, building up to more complicated.

For example, hugelculture is not appropriate for me in my main garden, although I had one somewhere in the past, and may in the right "wild Area" in the future, I would never put it in a "have to" do garden. But Paul would, so it is on the list, as you see in this link. But, that doesnt mean you cant take the other goals as a great idea, for example I would be meeeitn other things is the "straw level" growing 100, 000 calories, chop and drop etc... for encouraging volunteers, seed saving, and the thought of growing perenials from seed to cheaply try and get unused land up and running is an encouraging stretch goal

ANd, the food prep might be able to be done in any home except that most people do not have a rocket stove, I would think that something like my portable rocket stove would count, but to be honest, you never know with that site. SO, I would take such as a jumping off for ideas you should try for, but not get hung up on not getting a badge due to that kind of disrepency. So, here you see that the haybox cooking section gives helpful links on how it is done, but no-one has reported back done, likely due to the rocket stove part . While stir fry or other things have submissions.

I personally will not submit in his system, due to the way that site is moderated ( such as which type of rocket stove is allowed, etc...), but I think many of the ideas of things you should know how to do are good.

alice's picture

Thanks mountainmoma, I suspected you would have interesting things to add -- looking into those links.

I would like to add this to the mix for this idea, a book by Shannon Hayes, Radical Homemaker. I was really impressed by this book when I read it a few years ago. As a homemaker, she explored what other "radical" homemakers around the country were doing. They had some great ideas for homemaking in a time when it isn't popular. Hayes also runs a blog and you can subscribe to her weekly newsletter.

alice's picture

Yes, 'The radical homemakers' is a favourite of mine, very good point. I loved how Hayes pointed out that the home arts had been deliberately ridiculed by the advertising industry -- it made a lot of sense of just how difficult it has been to find people locally who are interested in my discoveries on the home front. Why would that be the case when so much of family health is due to putting the work in on the home front? Because as Hayes argues it has been lucrative for many industries to pretend that processed stuff in packets can do the same job.

Hayes also makes the point bluntly that we know now that processed foods don't build healthy bodies. So someone's got to be in the kitchen often enough, if healthy kids are to be raised. There are of course several ways to do it -- a nurse I know cooked on her own in the kitchen after work and didn't involved her kids much but they both eat real food as adults, because her actions in prioritizing getting real food on the table made an impression that they both picked up as they started to find their own ways in life.