Food is ..?
I start this course in a similar fashion every semester. I poke and prod the students with survey questions designed to explore their rules and beliefs that surround food.
A large portion of the first week is spent in discussions surrounding favourite flavours, and shapes, and the ‘whys’ behind systems of thought that support the fact that ketchup is better than fresh tomatoes and that muffins are actually cupcakes without icing.
All the while I am slowly cataloging the pre-knowledge of my students.
All the while I am engaging them in some pretty lofty debates- ‘Be it resolved that nobody should buy bread from a gas station..’
All the while I am assessing Learning Skills and the critical analysis tools that each of my new, young chefs employ.
And all the while I am nurturing the open opportunity to build rapport and lure the students into an open mindset or growth mindset. By challenging their assumptions, discussing their beliefs, and sharing their experiences the class slowly gels around a common pursuit- deeper appreciation of the course material and of each other’s contributions.
This mindset ultimately serves more useful than the handouts, the slide-decks, and the summative tasks. Students that give themselves permission to explore the ‘why’ behind their food rules and food knowledge, usually experience a deeper satisfaction in their learning. And, more concretely, are able to demonstrate their skills clearly and articulate their qualifications without leaning on any marking scheme.
The open minded student leaves this course being able to explain what they could not do when they walked in, what they can do by the end of the course, and confidently replicate the effort it took to arrive at success.
This kitchen/classroom space is an amazingly, deep learning zone for me. Every semester that I am able to continue teaching this course I try to add more depth and density. By adding flipped videos, blogging, and maintaining a virtual classroom I hope that the students will appreciate a Modern Learning approach to a ‘cooking course’ In the least, by openly documenting my learning process and including the class community in the development of class resources, the students will see the reasonable risks that I am taking. And maybe, in turn, the students will be willing to do the same.