Where do we find real practical life if not among the various every-day activities of a household? This field of action encompasses all areas of human communal living. It is the seat of the “original craft”, which makes life-long demands upon the members of both sexes. This being the case, it should be part of every student’s education to be taught this craft, and to gain hands-on experience of some of its practicalities.
Today social life is in the throes of rapid change. Bringing up children and tending to their nutritional needs can often not be managed in the parental home as was traditionally usual. Modern eating habits also bring about losses in food quality and practical knowledge. Advice is constantly changing – for instance, as to what is best for babies and infants – and this leads to uncertainty and confusion. Modern family constellations, often with both parents working, mean there is little time for household tasks. In an increasingly intellectual and virtual society there is a paucity of the experience of real home-life. This state of things means that the rising generation often have had no guidance or example given to them on how to manage their lives.
In keeping with the aim that “all teaching must provide insights into practical life” (Steiner GA 192, 11.5.1919 (German edition 1991, p. 98)), all socially relevant topics with a direct bearing upon the lives of the students can be addressed in a practical way for all age-groups within the framework of home economics. As Wolfgang Schad puts it: “Active experience first – then cognitive exploration; encounter with reality first – then detached reflection, otherwise the latter will be void of content.” (Schad 1991: p. 8)