picture source: Country Porches
Homemaking classes are being quietly conducted in churches and homes throughout the nation. Each one is different, depending on the knowledge and experience of the teachers and the needs of the students. If you have always wanted to attend a homemaking class, you can do it yourself by hosting a class once in your home. You do not need any kind of professional materials and you need not go to any expense. All you need is to have your house prepared for company, and a list of things you wish to talk about or demonstrate.
Woman in a French Interior, by Susan Watkins, American 1908
While each teacher will have a personal preference of the way in which it is taught, it is probably a good idea to include a little talk about the purpose of being a homemaker and the importance of doing a good job. Explain also that homemaking does not mean you have to be always working, but it does not mean you are free to do nothing just because you are home. Show how a homemaker balances her work time with leisure time. I once heard a woman explain it like this:
You have to prepare meals, supervise the cleaning of the house, pay bills, and, throughout the day, keep a watch on your house to see that it stays orderly. Then, if your work is completed, you might be able to sit down and concentrate on some quiet activity such as a hobby or reading, or some special interest.
Edmund Blair Leighton
It is preferable if the students are accompanied by their mothers, so that all can participate and learn in a Titus 2 class. It would be good if the goal of the teacher was to send girls home with one new piece of knowledge about running a home, that would benefit their own homes and would free their mothers of some of the responsibilities and give them more time to spend on projects they have been wanting to complete.
Home life can be portrayed as a life of variety. There is so much to do. One way of discovering the enormous amount of things there are to keep a homemaker busy full time, is to spend time with the class in making a long list of every possible thing they can think of to do at home, that has to do with homemaking. Explain that homemaking is not just washing dishes and sweeping floors or fixing meals. It is making a home beautiful and comfortable for others. It is keeping track of the family heirlooms and memories. It is making sure that that safety procedures are followed in all parts of the house. It is showing care and concern for other people in that house. Students can list seasonal things that are required in creating home life. Home life also changes as children grow up and change their habits and needs.
A Quiet Moment by John O'BrienKeeping house will keep homemakers busy, and that of course is part of God's plan to provide a place of importance for women in the church of Christ, to whom the verses in Titus are addressed. While not everyone will follow the mandate to teach the younger women to be good wives, mothers and homemakers, we can know for certain that it is something for Christian women. Our example in doing this will win more people than arguments will. Showing how it is done in a homemaking class can be more convincing, if the teacher can also transport to them the feeling of happiness she has at home.
Hosting a homemaking class need not be stressful. One woman I know, Mrs. L., has had one each month for a year, with a different theme.
Women do not need to think they have to know everything in order to teach a simple class. All they have to do is share an aspect of homemaking and make it interesting. For example, Mrs. J. demonstrated how to hold a broom and how to sweep and use a dust pan. That might seem trite to some people, but there are girls who grow up never having learned this and are at a loss when it comes to housekeeping later. Another woman showed her class how to wash dishes by hand, how to rinse them so that they would be free of soap, and how to dry them. She explained things about having the water hot enough and how much soap to put in. Simple, but still needed. She was also trying to show how to enjoy washing dishes and how to make the atmosphere of the kitchen pleasant while doing it. You can learn what to think about , and how to plan for future things, while doing some of these tasks.
If you are unsure of yourself as a teacher, just consider it an act of hospitality and invite people as friends, to come to your home, where you will share something you know how to do.
Use the list your friends and students have made, to determine some subjects to present to your group. If you know no one and seem to have no one interested, try having something like this with your daughter. You can serve tea in your finest cups and then get up and go about the tasks you have prepared to demonstrate.
Hosting a homemaking class need not be daunting. Have at least one room clean that you can seat your students, dress like a lady and wear an apron, have a special vase of flowers for the occasion, or bake something that smells good. Some people just like to be invited to someone else's home to see how they do things, whether it is laundry or ironing, cooking or cleaning.
Feeding the Doves, by Sydney Muschamp, English 1870-1903
Teachers should be aware that there will always be those who will attempt to discredit them or dumb-down the class by distracting or behaving as though they are bored. There is usually one one person who is like this, but carries others off into that type of attitude. Others, even older women, may act rather superior to the whole idea that you have to teach homemaking to anyone. In the time that spans before the next class convenes, some negative type students may spread enough naysaying that makes fewer people want to attend. There is a technique that has gone on for centuries where this is used. If you want to destroy an idea, a belief, or a way of life, create controversy around it, even if there is none. You might say "I've heard about marriage, but there is a lot of controversy surrounding it." That way, the hearer focuses on the fact that there is controversy (even if there is not). Someone might say, "I have heard there is a cooking class, but there is some objection to it." There might be absolutely no objection to it, but the hearer will not want to be involved in anything that spells conflict, so will avoid the whole class. There are people who know from childhood how to work this kind of technique to destroy any attempt to make life better.
Another thing that teachers will have to expect is that there will be a certain amount of rolling of the eyes and boredom. She should cover all this with introductory remarks which also are typed on paper that can be given out at each lesson. Make it short and memorable, stating that they should save their objections until the end of the class, and write them down, to be answered later. The reason for this, is that many of their questions and challenges will be answered just by observing the teachings. The paper should state that no student should try to detract from the class if they want to be invited back, and that the teacher is giving freely of her time with no charge and is not obligated to accommodate dissention or undermining. Some students will visit each other during the week and may indulge in gossip about the teacher or the class. This ought to be warned against by suggesting that if they do mention the class to anyone during the week or month between classes, that they should talk about it in a good light.
If anyone remembers teaching the Fascinating Womanhood classes, there was a teacher's manual that was very well laid out with instructions for the teachers to read to the class, and they were also copied out and passed around for their notebooks. They were very kind in nature, and not difficult to follow. The list mentioned things like not arguing and not being close-minded. It explained that some people would already know some things that were taught, and that those things would not apply to them, but might be of interest to someone else. Everyone would be at a different level of maturity and a different stage in learning, and each one might glean something from the class.
In this day and age, such classes are rare, so , to be invited to attend one is a privilege and the hosting teacher should be treated with great appreciation. Girls are constantly being told to go to college, and the colleges actively recruit students. Recruiting campaigns through mail and telephone and other media are constantly launched to get girls interested in college. Rarely does anyone teach a class to get girls interested in marriage, children and homemaking. So, to be invited to one such class is not to be taken lightly. If a girl thinks she knows everything about homemaking and is invited to a class, she should try to attend just to encourage and help the teacher and the students. It will help build others up, as the Bible teaches.
A teacher might seriously consider only teaching one class, one day a year, or she might have several informal classes, seasonally, throughout the year. She has to decide what she will be able to do. Weekly classes can be too exhausting for some women, especially if they have pressing responsibilities at home. Once a season, by invitation, might suffice. It all depends on the preference of the teacher.