Boys who went to a mixed school will remember Home Economics, or Home Ec as it was affectionately known. This was a lesson solely for girls.
Many were the stories that abounded about what went on in Home Ec.
So what did girls learn in that lesson explicitly for them?
In a rather sexist way, the main topic in Home Ec was cooking and looking after a home with skills such as ironing and repairing socks (either putting them back into pairs or fixing them, you choose). A throwback to the 1950s when a woman in work or trousers was frowned upon. This, however, was only the main topic. There were other topics to help girls become women, and learn the things that men cannot do.
How to wrap hair in a towel and have the towel stay put is an example of the kinds of skills girls were taught at school, along with how to tie a towel around a middle. This of course, is why women need two towels. It was in Home Ec that girls were taught the important life skill of how to remember every little detail, whilst forgetting other people's diary dates.
Naturally, the intimate elements of the female nature were also discussed. Where babies come from, how to look after a child and why it is bad news to be a haemophiliac and a woman. Believe it or not, but girls were taught how to put on a condom, something they never bothered teaching boys. Perhaps it was felt more important to teach boys how to construct a wooden mug rack without using nails or glue. Fastening and unfastening a wide variety of clothing, such as bras, was one of the early lessons, and a very valuable one.
The correct way to use hair straighteners, curlers and demi-wavers was a crucial skill to allow girls to straighten curled hair, curl straight hair and meet half way for both. The correct way to pronounce every known word took quite a large chunk of the curriculum, whilst many an hour was spent practising looking innocent and learning how to spend five hours shopping without buying anything.
A lesson many men wish they had been taught at school is how to use the same knife for both butter and jam, without getting butter in the jam, or jam in the butter. Girls were taught that skill alongside learning how to keep the top of the ketchup bottle clean. They were taught the benefit of not leaving dish cloths in the sink, but never taught how to put their mobile phone in the same place every time to be able to locate it without calling it.
It is a myth that they are taught the location of the G-Spot, or how to tie somebody else's shoelaces.
In conclusion, Home Economics is a valuable lesson in schools, and one which should be extended to allow boys to take part. Many boys would dearly know how to keep their towel from falling down the moment that they start walking, never mind learning the secret to colour matching cushions and curtains.