Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Faculty Development as Teaching Cooking

| 4 Comments

I just thought of an analogy for faculty development where the goal is to teach someone cooking. There are different ways to approach this with varying results.

  1. You can teach someone how to follow a particular recipe and they can replicate
  2. You can teach someone a broad style of cooking and its principles, and they can adapt a recipe to have that style with different ingredients as long as they understand key principles
  3. You can understand someone’s preferred food tastes and teach them various options to choose from. E.g. if someone likes spicy food, they can learn which herbs and peppers can be used and how to use them in Indian vs Thai vs Mexican cooking, and let them choose what to do.
  4. You can expose someone to variety of cooking methods and allow them to experiment and create their own recipes

I have always loved baking. As a baker, you are usually told you need to follow precise measurements unlike regular cooking. However, I discovered that as long as you understand e.g. how eggs function and behave, the differences between types of fat and flour, etc., you CAN make changes to recipes and measurements and make substitutions. If you have good instincts and experience, for example, you can gauge the texture of a dough and know if it needs more liquid or flour to achieve the result you want. When they teach you only to follow exact recipes, you become helpless when an ingredient is missing, or when something goes wrong, you won’t have the flexibility to fix it on the fly. That kind of thing.

And I think you want faculty to develop the ability to adapt and respond to crises, and not to be overly dependent on faculty developer support, but to come back for new idea and inspiration. For example, as an established baker, I learned from Harry Eastwood how to make fat-free desserts by replacing fats with vegetables. This is not intuitive and i would not have come up with it on my own. Who would intuitively replace zucchini for butter in a banana bread? But now I know. So I don’t stop watching cooking shows or looking up recipes online because you can always learn. But I also know how to adapt them to my immediate circumstances (e.g. remove nuts so baby can eat, duh, or replace white flour with brown with some adjustments because watching my weight, or use two small eggs instead of 1.5 eggs because halving portions, etc.)

What do you think?

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Cooking With/As Metaphor: The H5P/PB Kitchen – CogDogBlog

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