Every child comes from a culture, a home, or an environment where they learn about life. If their environment is not a human-centered, lovingly shared, and healthy environment, which often cannot be known, then school becomes the daily-lived place where they can learn those concepts.
School, K-14, is also where they can learn about current society, new norms, and better ways to work and grow, which their family may be unaware of -- for instance, how to navigate the complex financial and social systems we now live in.
Preparing for adulthood in today's world, becoming resilient, self-sufficient, and finding a "locus of control" that serves as an anchor for life takes fifteen years in today's world. Those characteristics can be learned more easily in school or with difficulty as adults while also trying to develop a profession and maybe raise a new family. For this reason, many young people are simply moving home, not marrying, or giving up. While the brain matures at 25, the age of social maturation is now 34. Human Ecology education delivers the knowledge, life skills, and community-based social perceptions that enable confidence and success in adult life.
The Reasons Why
The need for Human Ecology education is now urgent as the world experiences increased social fragmentation and dysfunction, declining physical health, more discomfort, and frightening climate problems. The culmination of these issues for every individual means that new forms of preparation, prevention, and adaptation must be learned and become universal quickly.
Today we see:
A reversal of lifespan direction -- In the US today, for instance, males born today can only expect a lifespan of 73 years, women 76-79 years.
A steadily diminishing middle class as more people descend into poverty and the income gap grows wider yearly.
Youth violence and suicide is rising as more young people lose trust and faith in their society - and themselves.
Consumer fraud, medical bankruptcies, debt, and financial complexity, have grown systemically beyond the average person's ability to comprehend or navigate the algorithmic social systems that govern life.
Personal health is declining with higher obesity rates, more chronic disease, and less belief in science -- all as disease spreads more rapidly and the population ages, causing greater demands on health systems.
The culmination of these indicators of new personal social challenges, combined with climate disasters and pandemic fears, are now threatening both democracy and the economy. It is time for a new approach to building and supporting human capital.
Human Ecology education enlists people themselves in the effort. It empowers each person to grasp, navigate, adapt, and solve their physical, social and financial challenges. The knowledge prepares everyone for every life's inevitable changes and instills confidence, agency, and self-determination in each. It is the core of human capital and the foundation of personal and national economic prosperity.
Human Ecology Education Instills Gender Equity
Recently a study showed that when men are asked about "a person over there", 80% of men assume the person is male. The assumption is routinely innate for too many men because it was intrinsic to their family; most do not even realize it.
The status of men and women are imbalanced in large part because, as children, they have been acculturated from their earliest experiences to unequal male and female roles (Claudia Goldin) - women's roles in the home basically being one of servitude and male roles being those of strength and control. The imbalance originates from whether the childhood home tasks were equally shared. Another study determined that couples who assume those roles at home will likewise also assume them at work. Pay rates, promotion, and other advantages that men enjoy, still do not accrue to women in the majority of businesses, schools, or government workplaces. In the end, more female retirees live in poverty than do male retirees.
Human Ecology, taught to every child, builds and shares the "burden of human-needs knowledge" in both women and men for a lifetime. Once you know, you know. That burden of knowledge, learned in childhood at home and school, is what drives equitable decision-making as adults in marriage and professional life.
More Reasons Why
Complex Social Systems: Social systems for health, food, housing, finance, justice, education and medicine have all become more complex than consumers -- especially those who are disadvantaged in some way -- to comprehend, let alone navigate. Technology is often predatory, algorithms rule, and tech-hell is common.
Limited Resources: Resources of every kind are now more limited, requiring new smarts by everyone on how to use and share them wisely. A zero-sum culture, winner take all, has not worked.
Climate Change: It is inescapable and now requires learning specific skills in energy use, home adaptation, and cooperative community management.
New Economics: Core economic principles such as the 'invisible hand', or the perfect self-interested human decision, or so-called fair income distribution cannot survive the smell test anymore. Now, local economics outrank global, and the economics of the home outrank local. For all of us, the protection of human capital, living capital, is what ensures the survival of democratic governance.
Practicing More Prevention: Preventing human failure before a threat exists needs new priority; instead of waiting and treating problems after failure, prior prevention through education is the surest way to strengthen the generational resilience of a population and build wellbeing and social continuity.
Changing Educational Needs and Priorities: Education has been co-opted by employer pressure as educational funding, space, and programs have become focused on professional goals. Personal, human-centered education to develop life skills, both physical and mental, is equally important to live the other 16 hours of the day successfully.
Strengthening the Mind-Body Connection: Human Ecology education is performance-based, experiential, and brings both mind and body into the learning tasks; accomplishment is enjoyed in real time; flow, confidence, and delight reinforce the power of the lesson; it continues to build self-interest and satisfaction as students personally experience tangible results in their lives.