It Seems That “Teaching” Beats “Cooking” After All!

It was a close race. “Teaching” and “Cooking” ran neck-to-neck most of the way. Near the end “Cooking”  seems to pull ahead, but at the last-minute “Teaching” beats it to the finish line. 

Part One – running neck-to-neck

Do and Do Again

Again and again (Naomi's Photos)
Again and again
(Naomi’s Photos)

* You invest time and effort in cooking a few dishes. Before you know it the food is all gone, the refrigerator is empty and you have to repeat the whole process. And then repeat it again.

* You invest time and effort in teaching your students various things. You then teach it again to the next set of students (assuming that the first set of students remembered the material!).


On the lookout (Naomi's photos)
On the lookout
(Naomi’s photos)

So as not to bore yourself or your “eaters” / students, you are constantly on the lookout for new ways to use the very same staple ingredients in your kitchen / mandated curriculum.

Damage to fingers / clothes

While the dangers of kitchen knives, burns  and acquiring stains on one’s clothes when transferring  the soup from the pot to the container may be obvious, you must mind your fingers at school too. Not only do they become stained with ink, whitener, the whiteboard marker (and possibly glue) but paper cuts abound. Not to mention all kind of old wooden chairs, cupboards with uneven surfaces. Or with an old nail that got slighty raised. These will attack either your fingers or your clothes… Don’t forget the dangers of colliding with a coffee-carrying-teacher in the teacher’s room!

Part 2:  “Cooking” almost overtakes “Teaching”

Positive Reinforcement!

Just for you! (Naomi's Photos)
Just for you!
(Naomi’s Photos)

People, even CHILDREN will actually TELL YOU that they enjoyed something you cooked (children will also tell you what they didn’t like!). Diners may even inquire how many hours you spent in the kitchen to achieve this result and thank you for doing so. They may ask for the recipe. Your efforts in achieving the end result are not taken for granted.

I won’t say this never happens at school, but it’s fairly rare.  Even if at times students actually say they enjoyed something in particular, it’s taken for granted that the teacher has spent time and effort preparing this. Taken for granted by the administration as well.  The kids are passing their tests and there are no complaints, that’s all that is needed, right?

Part Three – “Teaching Crosses the Finish Line First!”

Naomi's photos
The best! (Naomi’s photos)

Every time you cook a dish, it’s a one-time-opportunity. You carefully chopped all those vegetables and then added too much salt? Or forgot to add salt before putting the casserole in the oven? That’s it. The damage has been done. All the careful work you put in has been cancelled out by that careless shake of the hand, releasing all those misguided grains of salt. A few dishes can be salvaged by smothering them in gravy or adding rice but the expected success has turned into “being edible”. While you can say that over time you improve your Spinach Quiche, that first Quiche was done for.

In the classroom you can change tactics, revise your lesson plan and try again. If you realize that the way you presented a new topic to your students wasn’t clear all is not lost. If you gave them too much new information at once or see that they are getting confused you can add support, change tactics and still achieve success.

“Teaching” leaves room for errors, not just for the students. Teachers can get a second chance too.







9 thoughts on “It Seems That “Teaching” Beats “Cooking” After All!”

  1. Great post, Naomi. Having experienced your cooking directly and your teaching indirectly (through presentations and online) I can understand how they ran neck and neck for you. But I think what makes teaching stand out for me is what we have the chance to produce. It is not just food which, delicious as it may be, lasts a relatively short time, but instead we have the chance to leave a mark on eternity through the knowledge, understanding and the ‘human touch’ we offer to those who learn from us. And in turn, we also learn from them and they leave traces behind long after they have left our classrooms.

      1. A big ‘yes’ to both. Working on it although it may take a bit of time. Will definitely keep you in the loop.

  2. Thanks for writing this post. What a clever parallel you drew between teaching and cooking. I’d add that both need a lot of patience and especially good timing. Undercooked meal is as bad as half-baked teaching ideas. By the same token, if you spend too much time doing one activity in the classroom, it may leave the same taste as an overcooked meal. Moreover, your students/eaters won’t want to try the food/activity again.
    I really hate it when I spoil a meal and the disappointment is similar to the feeling I have when something goes wrong in the classroom. But if your students/family love you and respect you, they’ll forgive you and give you a second chance in both cases 🙂

  3. Most important, cooking rarely has a long-lasting positive impact or changes someone’s life for the better. Many of us can remember a special teacher who made a difference in our lives but how many can remember a significant recipe or meal that wasn’t made by a relative? (comparing Grandma’s soup to an English lesson isn’t fair).
    I prefer not to discuss the possible negative effects cooking can have.

  4. We all cook differently and our personality shines through, for some it’s all in the preparation, others are more “take it as it comes”, whatever our style it’s obvious from the end result whether you enjoyed the production or not, grumpy cooks make lumpy soup!

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