Contributing to a more sustainable society

The home is an indispensable factor for the development of a sustainable society. This conference held in Germany had as its double focus family and career.

The recent seminar in the Excellence in the Home series held in Germany had as its double focus family and career. Both Prof. Schlegel-Matthies (University of Paderborn) and Prof. Burkard Piorkowsky (University of Bonn) concurred when referring to the great importance of the home and family for today’s economy and society as a whole.

Before 80 delegates Prof. Schlegel-Matthies clarified why the home is an indispensable factor for the development of a sustainable society. She raised awareness of the fact that where children learn basic manners and the essential skills for life and work is in the home; if parents do not teach this, then who will?

The professor of nutrition and consumer education highlighted the fact that the home is the essential place for enculturation and socialisation and is therefore the cornerstone for the building of a more humane society. Children she said are vital for the continuation of society and so in turn, parents are essential for the handing on of culture and interpersonal behaviour by means of education. She agreed that many families do achieve this successfully, but put forward that perhaps those that do succeed and the positive impact they have, remain unnoticed; hidden in the shadow created by society’s preference to recognise only the problems in society rather than search for what works, for solutions.

Prof. Schlegel-Matthies emphasised that education requires both time and the appropriate means. She pointed out that where education tends to fail is when both parents, who are the first educators, find they need to work outside.

The seminar concluded with questions and answers where delegates also took the opportunity to voice their own experiences in combining family and a career. Many commented on the progress companies have made in supporting family-friendly programmes and the positive effect this has consequently had on family life and local society.the home and therefore have less time for their children. Yet she stated that poverty cannot be an excuse for failure in education but that rather demands need to be made on the government and society to reduce the risk of poverty. If such demands were made then families could repossess their due recognition and appreciation in society.

Prof. Burkard Piorkowsky delved into the significance of the family for the economy. He claimed that the family and the home are frequently reduced to mere consumers. Nothing more than the cost of living and the cost of education are taken into consideration. He stated that an increased awareness of the family’s active contribution to the economy is greatly needed; the true value of services performed in the home, first and foremostly education is difficult to measure. Yet just because such products are not considered in gross national product calculations we cannot fail to reflect, by greater appreciation, their real contribution to human capital.