We had guests for dinner yesterday, Memorial Day. As I was working in the kitchen I thought about a post to this blog that I was going to make some time ago but never did. It was a post about my first instruction in formal time management. The instruction was not in a best-selling book or a seminar at work or a business class. It was in seventh-grade home economics (home ec) taught by Mrs. W.
I will date myself by saying that all junior-high girls were required to take home ec and all junior-high boys were required to take shop. Home ec was divided into two segments--sewing and cooking--with each segment filling one semester of each year. In the cooking semester, we had planning days and cooking days. On the planning days we had to make a list of every action that was needed to prepare whatever it was we were going to prepare on the next cooking day. Next to each action we had to estimate how long that step would take. Finally, we had to put all the actions in the order in which they would be done, labeled with the time each would be started and the time each would be completed. This ordering had to take into account which actions were contingent on other actions. Since the goal was always to eat the cooked/baked item before the end of class, our planning had to work backward from the time the food would be served. A Gantt chart disguised as instruction in homemaking.
The culmination of the cooking semester was for our class as a whole to cook an entire full-course meal, with each group preparing a different menu item. We, the cooks, did not get to eat this meal, however, as with prior kitchen accomplishments. You probably can guess who it was served to instead: the boys in shop class.