Traditional jobs are just that, jobs embedded into the culture of a community and is accepted as a respectable means of earning an income. In rural communities, farming was considered such a vocation. Serving others as in a service industry like today, in exchange for respectable pay, was not seem to bear the resemblance of “hard” work, something rural communities had come to define as respectable for wages. As structural changes in work transitioned from agricultural to industrial to service and now multiplatforms of technology, so must rural thinking. Local gifts and talents are not just “book” based traditional networks of knowledge- the domestic sciences adds flavor to the culture. Imagine life without the arts or music or even designers?
The economics of work shifted the culture around the domestic sciences. Home economics, a consumer or domestic science, once well respected within the context of gender and family and learning was no longer offered in many schools. Girls more often than not, were seen to need this interest, to be a good wife and mother. Policies followed a movement toward more women’s rights. Less emphasis was placed on the value of art, music, cooking and sewing in school settings as career options. Reading, writing and arithmetic consumed educators. The individuality of a child with varying passions, out of the scope of the 3 R’s, was not taken seriously and was dismissed as kids just trying to “play” instead of learn.
With shifts in rural work culture norms for generations opting to live rurally, it just might take on a complexion that resembles the newly crowned American Idol Candice Glover. As a native of South Carolina from a small rural predominant African American community, in love with the art of music as an incredible singer, she never gave up on her dream to sing.
Building the local economy of small rural communities will happen when there is a “search” for talent in all the gifts from reading, writing, arithmetic to the full spectrum of the arts to include passions for nontraditional vocations such as Candice dreamed of as the new American Idol. School policies that have opted out of cooking, sewing and music classes, might rethink their value. If economics are driving decisions not to offer such classes, then a community based approach is worth the consideration. There are Candice Glover’s in every rural community; a beautiful, nontraditional vocation, fueled by an incredible gift of singing.