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Consumer Science Organism

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Practice homes were added to American universities in the early 1900s in order to model a living situation, although the all-women ‘team’ model used for students was different from prevailing expectations of housewives. For example, women were graded on collaboration, while households at the time assumed that women would be working independently. Nevertheless, the practice homes were valued. These practicum courses took place in a variety of environments including single-family homes, apartments, and student dorm-style blocks. For a duration of a number of weeks, students lived together while taking on different roles and responsibilities, such as cooking, cleaning, interior decoration, hosting, and budgeting. Some classes also involved caring for young infants, temporarily adopted from orphanages. Childcare practicums were often included at the same time as other classwork, requiring students to configure their intellectual and home lives as compatible with one another. According to Megan Elias, “in the ideal, domestic work was as important as work done outside the home and it was performed by teams of equals who rotated roles. Each member of the team was able to live a life outside the home as well as inside the home, ideally, one that both informed her domestic work and was informed by it. This balance between home and the wider world was basic to the movement”.



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