Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Everything I know about education I learned from cooking

SCHOOL IS OUT! Praise be. I have had many visions of what my summer would turn in to, but these past two days student-free has not led to any of the activities that I had planned (ranging from studying to the GRE to watching "Heavy Weights"). In fact, I have spent nearly twelve of the past forty eight hours cooking.

I have long been known for my love of food, but I've generally been interested in the eating, not the making. What happened? Why did I just spend that much money at Kroger on ingredients to things that I could buy pre-made?

Then I realized that I had stumbled upon my own personal metaphor for education at large.

1. If you enjoy doing it, doing whatever "it" is isn't a horrible chore. I'm cooking because I enjoy it and I'm learning more about it left and right because I want to learn about it. I realized that I don't procrastinate cooking because I want to cook (duh!).

2. Even if you do enjoy it, some of it is still going to be a bit tedious. I still don't like doing dishes... but that doesn't mean that I don't cook just to avoid doing the dishes. Learning is always involve at least some grunt work.

Repins and likes
from my Pinterest
food page. 
My food Pinterest board
3. Sharing is the bee's-knees. Everyone loves a cook that shares.
My neighbors are especially fond of my new hobby. I've also started Pinning recipes and ideas that I like on my own food board and the sense of community and feedback is gratifying and affirming.

4. Learn from some one who knows better than you. I would never have been able to cook anything without first having learned from my mom, and later my roommate, and later the many food wizards to be found on the internet. I watched them do it a couple of times, and then I was ready to do it myself.

5. Recipes are not the only way. Yes, it's nice to have a general concept of how to make something, but for the vast majority of dishes, precision is not absolutely required to end up with a good result. A bit of culinary off-roading can lead to any number of delicious and unexpected discoveries. We don't have to stick to the cook/text books.

6. It doesn't always work the first time. Maybe you can fix it by adding more salt. Maybe it will make good dog food. Maybe you call it lentil porridge instead of lentil loaf. Maybe it was a complete and total failure. Bet it will taste better next time you try it, though.
Did you know that this is what
brussels sprouts look like!?
I didn't. 

7. Try everything. Preferably more than once. I remember throwing Brussels sprouts down the toilet as a child.  I gave them a shot again in high school and managed to keep them down. Then I fell in love with them my last year of college and have recently converted my father (which everyone thought was impossible).

8. Not everyone has the same tastes. On several occasions my boyfriend was about to throw some food out and I would swoop in vulture-style and eat it. My friends will scarf down seafood and I'll try to keep from gagging at the smell. As long as you give it a shot, it's ok if it's not your jam.

9. Some things need to be eaten right away. Some things taste better after they sit for a while. This is the one thing that I have learned that I think may require some explanation in its conversion to education. Some projects need to be done in a hurry, some learning needs to happen slowly. Some times you need to learn something right this second, but sometimes it is better if it simmers on the backburner of your mind for a long spell in order to reach its full potential.
My Granny was a
cookie queen. Gosh
they were good.

10. It tastes better when we make it by hand. Learners and teachers, I think that we have a lot to gain from large companies that can provide us with a variety of resources. That being said, I think that education is best served like Granny's cookies: individualized, homemade with the accompanying sense of attachment and pride.

I didn't always love cooking, but now, unexpectedly, I do. It is my sincere hope that we can guide our students to a new (or renewed) love of learning. I don't think that snacks will hurt, either.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The concept of self, part 2: Autorretratos

A while back, I promised to post examples of the student work that they created after analyzing Spanish-speaking artists' images. (See Part 1.)
Work by Eduardo Garcia
Work by Santos Euceda

Erik has the following to say about his piece: "Everything that we live every day is like a videogame. Everything we do has a consequence. In everything we do, something good can happen or something bad can happen. The eyes represent the soul, like the eyes are a direct line."

Work by Carmen Garcia

Monday, May 7, 2012

Teacher-centered = learner-centered

I think that our learning institutions need to be teacher-centered.

Don't freak out. I don't mean that they need to be this kind of teacher-centered:

I just think that, in order for teachers to be able to successfully give the students the reins, in order to be on their A-game every day, in order to be the sort of facilitators that we strive to be, we're going to need a little more support and a heckuva lot less work. 

If we were in an ideal world, we could scrap the traditional school model all together and this might become a non-issue, but that's not going to happen any time soon. So while there is still the traditional role of teacher in a classroom of (way too many) learners, we could use a little help. Because we are burnt out and stretched thin. Please. The kids deserve it.