Chloe, our eldest daughter, started high school last September. This has been an interesting time for us as parents because we both attended the same school. Owing to the ten year age gap between Steve and I we were not there at the same time so we both have very different memories of school life, the teachers even the buildings. To make matters more confusing for us this particular high school has completely changed the way they teach their Year 7 pupils. They are mostly segregated from the rest of the school in separate buildings. Their lessons consist of a series of projects which encompass the more traditional subjects of Humanities, Languages, Science, Maths and so on. The projects seem interesting and varied and Chloe certainly seems to be enjoying them which is fantastic after all disinterest is a huge barrier to learning anything.
My own opinions on education generally I will save for another day. Suffice to say that having come out of the other side of the education system, and having survived life up until now, working and then raising a family, I am still frustrated by the amount of time schools spend teaching topics which have no real use to the majority in real life. For example unless you are going to be a mathematician or teach maths when are you ever going to do long division after you have left school? I didn't understand the point back then, I certainly don't understand it now.
There is logic in teaching pupils how to balance a budget, how to open a bank account and how to look after their finances, there is no logic in wasting time teaching things which the majority of the class are never going to use after they leave the classroom. I mean isn't the whole idea of education to prepare us for our lives ahead?
On this note I was pleased when Chloe told me she would need to take some ingredients for a cookery lesson the following week. I replied that I was going to the shops the next day so if she gave me a list I would buy them and then asked her what she would be making. An apple crumble she proudly replied, so my mouth already watering we set about checking off her list of ingredients to see if there was anything I needed to buy.
Flour - we have plenty in the cupboard
Block marg or butter - in fridge
Oats - In stock
Sugar - we have plenty of that too
A tin of stewed apple
"Sorry Chloe say that again" thinking I must have misheard her. "A tin of stewed apple" she repeated. She then told me her teacher had even given them the relevant aisle number in asda to assist us with finding this tin of fruit, not sure if she is on commission I thought as I imagined thirty confused parents wandering the aisles of Asda in search of this delicacy.
Now I have lots of mouths to feed and we do use quite a few tins for convenience when preparing meals so I am by no means a purist, but come on, surely the point of a cookery lesson is to teach them to actually cook! Chopping up some apples and cooking them down for a simple crumble is hardly rocket science is it? To my mind you need to be able to cook properly then by all means you can use shortcuts to save time but you do need to master the basics first. I don't think it is just me, Delia Smith had a whole series and several books based around this concept.
I also considered preparing the apple filling with her at home and sending it to school in a nice piece of lidded tupperware but my anxiety about making her stand out came to the fore so the said tin of fruit was purchased (From Morrison's - sorry about your commission Miss it was closer!) and the night before her lesson we assembled her ingredients.
She then informed me she needed to weigh everything at home into separate bags, so out came the scales and she carefully weighed everything out. Then she needed a suitable dish to cook the crumble in. A dish was found and carefully wrapped in a clean tea towel. She has to come home on the bus so I suggested that she could used the tea towel to wrap the dish and crumble in on the way home to save burning herself if it was still a bit hot since I had given her a cloth shopping bag to carry it all in. She smiled as she replied "Oh, we're not cooking it in school, we wont have time" "You wont have time" came my incredulous reply "How can you not have time? You've weighed all the ingredients at home, you only have to open the tin and make the crumble, that is not going to take long" "Oh but we have to plan it and evaluate it as well as wash up." She informed me.
Dear God please give me strength! Is it just me or oh forget it I don't even have the words!
So after weighing all the ingredients out at home, separating them out into little bags and sending in a tin of fruit she assembled the crumble in school and brought it home to heat and it was delicious.
Last night when Steve came home from work I told him I was just taking Chloe down the village to fetch some fruit for her cookery lesson. "What is she making this week?" he asked "Fruit Salad" I replied. Quick as a flash he came back with "why don't you just buy her a tin of fruit cocktail to take in?"