Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Elementary School Teaching If My Students Were Learning to Be Professional Chefs

You could make the argument that my classroom is any of the following:
  • Communism (in theory, not the Soviet or Chinese practice) - everyone, teacher and student, pull their resources together for the common good.
  • Chaos - no one is ever quite sure where the marker or post-it bin is. Only the same one student can ever find the stapler. Even if she hasn't used it in days.
  • Anarchy - it is every learner for themselves when finding an expo marker.
I am well rooted in constructivist ism. My classroom falls just shy from hand built hippie commune and is closer to communal living. Without, of course, me actually eating with my students. That would be gross.

Lately, however, I envision my classroom as a kitchen and my students as line cooks. I am the chef. And yes, maybe I am internalizing the lessons from Heat a bit too much.

But sometimes, my students need to watch me make the pasta in order to understand the rhythm of rolling the dough. Other times, they need to burn 50 steaks in order to understand the difference between done and well done. Observation of the master and repetition of the mundane. Want to be proficient on the computer? Watch me as I tell you all my secrets about word formatting, Library of Congress research, and ways to make Excel do the thinking for you. And then type up your stories, change the font because the teacher said, and find (and cite) 25 different images on the web. Observation of the master, repetition of the mundane. Learning is mimicked and mastered.

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