This book is designed for use as a text-book in the junior high school or the beginning high school grades. The material can be covered in two or three years' work, depending on the age of the student and the amount of time devoted to home economics. The authors have endeavored to select subject matter based on the particular interests of girls of this age and centered around their individual home activities. For this reason, in the units of work which deal with the house, the girl's own room, its care, arrangement and furnishing, have been chosen as suitable units of work. Likewise, the units of work in clothing construction, dress design and textiles deal with problems closely related to the girl's special interests and abilities.
The chapters dealing with the house and with clothing are arranged in two separate sections. In each section the material has been put into sequential order of increasing difficulty. It is evident, therefore, that the beginning chapters in each section are intended for the beginning classes and the latter chapters for the more advanced classes. For example, where three years of work are given, Chapters 2 and 3 on clothing and Chapter 10 on the house are suited for use in the first year. Chapters 4 and 5 on clothing and Chapters 11, 12 and 13 on the house are suited for use in the second year and Chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9 on clothing and Chapters 14 and 15 on the house for use in the third year. When the school program allows only two years for home economics the material should be divided so that the more elementary chapters on clothing and the house are used in the first year and the more difficult material in the second year. More material has been planned for the second and third years because frequently more time is devoted to the study of the subject in these years and also because the older girls are able to cover the subject more rapidly. A book written for general use can never fit the needs of all school programs and it is assumed that these chapters may be studied in any other order of arrangement that does not interfere with the sequence of difficulties.
Emphasis has been placed on the intellectual content of problems selected for study as well as on the acquisition of technical skill. For example, the processes in construction are introduced as problems to be solved by the children rather than as dictation exercises. Teachers should take pains to keep such lessons as these on the problem-solving basis. Pictures, which are often used as a means of creating a problem situation, should be supplemented by demonstrations and illustrative materials supplied by the teacher. The intellectual content has been stressed in connection with the study of patterns. The problems have been organized around type patterns so that, although the girl uses but one pattern, she understands the modifications and variations of this type. The latter parts of the Chapters, "What You Can Make from the Kimono Pattern," "How to Make Bloomers " and "Making a Dress" (Chapters 3, 5 and 8) are planned to give additional understanding of patterns without compelling the class to spend a long time constructing more garments. Intellectual content has also been emphasized in the housekeeping problems by stressing methods of saving time and energy rather than the mere doing of household tasks. Throughout the book, every unit of subject matter has been treated so as to give the girls training in thinking out home economics problems as well as in acquiring skill.
This book attempts to provide for the formation of certain habits, such as keeping our rooms in order, taking proper care of our clothing and acquiring good habits with relation to clothing and health. In order to form a habit it is necessary to have continued and correct practice. Certain devices, such as "The What to Wear Club " and record sheets of home activities, have been included to stimulate interest in continued practice. It is necessary to use such devices or provide similar ones if one wishes to insure the formation of good habits.
Home economics deals with the activities that are centered around the home life of the girl. Any effective study of home economics, therefore, must use the same materials and processes which she encounters in the actual situation. Insofar as possible the classroom should provide an imitation of the real situation in daily life which the girl will encounter. It is because of this need for experience in real activities that it has been suggested that the girls buy their own patterns and materials for their problems in clothing construction. This and similar procedure often seem not to be worth the trouble unless we understand their significance.
If the school is to provide adequate textile training it must include the use of real textile materials. No amount of reading will furnish the same understanding and appreciation of textile materials. The study of Chapter 7, "Fabrics That We Use Everyday," and Chapter 15, "Furnishing Your Own Room: Curtains, Rugs, Bedding," will not be well done unless it is accompanied by a study of real materials. It is often possible to obtain many of these materials from the girls' homes and from manufacturers or merchants who are willing to furnish them free of charge.
In real life a girl's problems in dress design and interior decoration involve making selections, judgments and comparisons. Chapter 6, "How to Dress in Good Taste," Chapter 13, "Arranging Your Bedroom So It Is Attractive and Convenient," Chapter 14, "Furnishing Your Own Room: Furniture, Walls, Lighting," and Chapter 15, "Furnishing Your Own Room: Curtains, Rugs, Bedding " suggest devices for practice in making selections and comparisons. No amount of drawing and painting will develop a corresponding amount of ability in selection and judgment. The difficulties involved are quite different. In drawing and painting, much attention must be centered on the difficulties of technic, and in making a selection attention must be given to analysis and comparison. Where time permits teachers should devise further ways for practice in making selections.
The subject matter which deals with textiles and art have been organized in the fashion which has proved most satisfactory in the experience of the authors. In the problems of clothing construction, comparatively little attention is given to textiles and art. Only those problems in art and textiles have been considered which are directly related to the making of the garment. Too much time devoted to the study of textiles and art interrupts the project. The class loses interest and the project is too long drawn out or again it is often not possible to include certain textile and art topics which are valuable and interesting to the girl. It has seemed best, therefore, to include most of the art and textile subject matter in separate units for study. Chapter 6 is devoted to the study of art problems in relation to clothing and Chapter 7 is devoted to the study of textiles. In Chapter 6 it is assumed that the class will purpose to learn how to be well dressed. This in itself is a project and need not be directly related to the making of a garment. In Chapter 7 it is the aim of the girls to become better acquainted with the textile fabrics that they use everyday. This, also, may be a project in that the girls purpose to learn how to select and use textile fabrics. According to this plan it is intended that Chapters 6 and 7 be studied before Chapter 8. In Chapter 8, the making of the dress is an application of the art principles explained in Chapter 6 and the textile information in Chapter 7. It is obvious, therefore, that although the subject matter has been divided into three chapters, it is closely related, and that a successful study of Chapter 8 will necessitate a previous study of Chapters 6 and 7.
Each chapter includes tests which will help the teacher to determine how well the subject matter has been mastered. These tests should be used as an instrument for the improvement of teaching. For example, certain difficulties encountered by the class will indicate what topics should be retaught. The proper use of these tests will also help to point out weaknesses of individual students. Teachers will find it helpful to devise other similar tests to use for retesting.