Teaching the kids to cook – at school

27 Jan

It is parents’ evening for our oldest daughter tonight. She’s in year 8, she’s not especially academic but she tries reasonably hard (they could always try harder, couldn’t they?) and she’s happy at her current school.

I’m generally happy too. Of course, there are issues, as with any school, but she’s not at the top, nor at the bottom and I am content with her progress, I think. Her handwriting is dreadful, but since she has been diagnosed with Irlinn Syndrome, and wears coloured lenses in her glasses, the improvement has been little short of miraculous*. She even reads for fun now!

But… I cook. A lot. I even write recipes for ingredient brands, have done demos, and taught a bit too. So I would reckon on knowing a bit about cooking and I’m really unhappy about the home ec course at the school.

Now, before I proceed, K is at a girls’ school, and a high achieving academic one at that. So Home Ec isn’t offered at GCSE in order to favour the more traditional sciences. I would like them to change that, in the first instance, as I think it’s more than just a hobby – it’s a life skill we should all have.  But what riles me is that they aren’t learning useful skills! Surely, if they won’t be getting an academic qualification in it, it is way more important to furnish them with everyday skills and recipes to start them on their way?

Bugbear #1

I’m Mrs Traditional. I always make a white sauce the old fashioned way. Messieurs Roux got it right and I’m more than happy with that. The all in one method just doesn’t work as well, so please don’t tell my daughter she’s wrong when she automatically makes a cheese sauce my way. If nothing else, it’s not wrong; it’s just another method (with better results!)

Bugbear #2

Why so much theory? They spend more time learning hygiene theories than actually doing any cooking? To work in a professional kitchen you need Food Hygiene Level 2. It takes a day to learn all that is necessary, and you can do it online. So, why not get the girls to do that – it’s good enough for professional kitchens!

Bugbear #3

Don’t baby them. Most of these middle class girls cook at home; a lot. K even tests recipes for me sometimes. She’s a whizz with choux pastry and I never make puddings anymore because she’s better than I am. When the school holds baking competitions or school masterchef, it puts me to shame. These girls can already cook quite well so please don’t just stick with cupcakes and all in one sauce for mac and cheese, and only cook 3 times a term. Reduce the theory and give them a challenge, teach them to improvise and use up leftovers; give them recipes they can take to Uni and on through life with them!

Now, I know that it’s my responsibility, as K’s parent, to provide her with the life skills she needs, and the responsibility of the school to take the academic side. So I can understand the school taking the theoretical approach to Home Ec, but then why bother with the practical at all? I know that’s a simplistic view, but why wouldn’t cooking be considered important and useful? Look at Jamie et al; they’ve made millions by cooking. We’re cooking crazy these days! It’s gone back to being OK to want to cook for a living, and there are loads of people signing up to cooking classes because they never learned. Let’s teach them properly!

 

So, I hope that I can ask sensible questions tonight, and not just blurt out that I think that the Home Ec teacher can’t actually cook… Wish me luck!

 

*I was sceptical about this. I’m bored of bandwagon mums who clamber aboard every syndrome and complaint, declaring that this is the reason for their child’s behaviour. But they insisted on testing her, and with normal glasses her reading was pitifully slow, with coloured lenses she reads as she ought. Can’t argue with that!

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