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High school students learn about careers in family and consumer sciences

October 28, 2013 11:00AM

More than 260 high school students from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma are expected on the Pittsburg State University campus Tuesday to participate in the Family and Consumer Sciences Career Day.

The message that Department Chairman Duane Whitbeck wants them to get is “this isn’t your mother’s Home Ec.”

Whitbeck said Family and Consumer Sciences is a far cry from the perception of the home economics of generations past.

“FCS has a wide range of career paths and the employment outlook for FCS graduates is quite good,” Whitbeck said.

Those careers include apparel and textile design and merchandising, dietetics, education, food and nutrition sciences, human development and family science, hospitality, interior design, nutrition and fitness, communications, consumer economics and financial planning.

“Currently there are shortages in almost every state for high school teachers who come from Family & Consumer Sciences teacher education programs such as ours,” Whitbeck said. “Opportunities are much like what we have seen in fields such as nursing where you can move almost anywhere and find employment.”

Whitbeck said about 92 current students in PSU’s FCS Department will present a series of workshops and assist in other ways with Career Day. Visiting students will also tour the campus.

Home economics, the term used prior to the 1990s, was once a dependable part of the high school curriculum. Experts say it has been a victim of tight budgets and a heightened emphasis on assessment of core subjects.  Experts in the field point out that FACS is the application of not only information from Family and Consumer Sciences courses but also requires the application of content gained from other disciplines to make it a truly integrative curriculum.

Whitbeck said, there is a growing sentiment across the country that it was a mistake for schools to cut back on Family & Consumer Sciences courses instead of understanding that FACS had changed with the times and reflects the new needs of society in areas related to both employment and the home.

“Look at some of the major issues we face that could and should be addressed in a modern family and consumer sciences class in high school,” Whitbeck said. “We have a national obesity epidemic. Diabetes and heart disease are preventable major health risks for Americans. Too many families struggle with balancing a checkbook, managing their credit or making smart shopping decisions.

Whitbeck said he hopes the high school students who visit PSU’s FCS Department Tuesday leave with a fresh perspective of what Family and Consumer Sciences has to offer.

©2013 Pittsburg State University