Teaching kids to cook

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Tompeters

Teaching kids to cook

Again, the suggestion that schoolchildren should be taught cookery in school has hit the media. I'm of two minds...on the one hand I think that everyone (other than aristos and billionaires, maybe) should know how to cook the basics to feed them and their families. On the other hand there are loads of other things that everyone should be able to do...brush their teeth, shave, get dressed, tell the time,....are these to be taught in school, too?

Should it be the job of schools to devote teaching resources and time to cookery or should every parent, guardian or carer regard it as their duty when looking after children?

I learnt to cook from mum and gran and was brought up with the attitude that there is nothing you can't cook, if you don't know how then look it up. These days we are spoilt by Youtube and brand courses such as Delia's. Do we really need to set-aside scarce school hours to teach cookery instead of maths, science, english, and, dare I say, nutrition, looking after your body and simple medicine?

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Welshcookie

Teaching children to cook

Sadly many parents shirk their parental responsibilities in many, many respects.

If children are not taught the rudiments of cooking yet another generation will raise their children on 'ping' meals or unsuitable foods.

One of my hobby-horses is the epidemic of people who will suffer from osteoporosis in the future from drinking fizzy drinks and not taking enough exercise.

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Tompeters

Teaching kids to cook

" Sadly many parents shirk their parental responsibilities in many, many respects."

Yes, I agree, WC. But is the answer to teach the things the guardian should teach in school-time or deem the guardian unfit to look after the child? After all, suppose your kids were in school 'wasting' their time being taught things you'd taught them years before, but unable to master calculus, the twelve times table, or be able to point to Paris, New York, Moscow on a map?

I stress, I can see both sides but I'm far from comfortable about basics being taught in school hours. How about after-school for those with dysfunctional parents?

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SonyaK

Teaching kids to cook


"" How about after-school for those with dysfunctional parents?"

Can't really see that as a realistic solution:)

How do you define dysfunctional parents? Not teaching cooking to the kids?

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jampling

Teaching kids to cook

My mother never taught me to cook so I suppose she qualified as a dysfunctional parent.

We did have cooking lessons in my school but I was designated to receive Latin lessons instead, so again I missed out. Dysfunctional nuns, I suppose.

Somehow I ended up being a keen cook who has rarely if ever resorted to the processed rubbish that many families rely on. As my ma said to me when I mentioned that she had never passed on any cooking knowledge to me: "If you can read a book, you can cook". I suppose she was right, although I suppose today it might be rather "if you can surf online, you can cook".

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Tompeters

Teaching kids to cook

Leaving aside the 'dysfunctional' bit, I could have worded it better, basically you're saying that it needn't be a school curriculum subject?

I think I'd agree with you. After all, why should those who teach their kids to cook - and tie their shoelaces and brush their teeth - have their school hours dedicated to cooking, a subject that either they are taught at home or, as you say, can look up or watch on the Internet.

I can see both sides of the argument. Teach 'em to cook proper ordinary raw food and maybe they'll do that not buy processed. On the other hand, even if one agrees, should it be the school's duty? Is it anyone's duty, come to that? Is it acceptable for kids to leave school not knowing how to cook a (metaphorical) shepherds pie and veg from raw?

I suppose it's not for any of us individuals to say...has to be a decision made by 'society' - whatever that is.

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jampling

Teaching kids to cook


"Leaving aside the 'dysfunctional' bit, I could have worded it better, basically you're saying that it needn't be a school curriculum subject.
"


Actually no, that wasn't what I was saying at all. I was rather throwing in a personal experience that, I suppose, could be deemed to support the argument against cooking as a school curriculum subject.

My view? I believe that if an individual is born with an innate interest in good food, has the opportunity to sample it and the means to research recipes via book or surfing, school cooking lessons are likely not essential.

However, there are also many people who for various reasons have never have the opportunity to eat really good food and who, in all truth, may not even be properly aware that a divide exists. For some there is no better food than a McDonald's meal! In which case, why would someone ever try home cooking, which may seem a completely foreign notion to many kids.

This is where I believe school cooking lessons could provide a huge benefit. In addition to showing how easy it can be to prepare tasty, economical meals, it's also an opportunity to introduce the notion of healthy eating and help reduce childhood obesity. The amount that could long-term be saved in health costs could more than pay for the expenses of cooking lessons as an expanded part of the curriculum.

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Tompeters

Teaching kids to cook

Yup, I agree with all of that, it's what I have noticed over the years. But there's another layer to the story. The quantity vs quality divide. Go to Great Yarmouth and every pub and restaurant is advertising "Roast and six veg" or "Roast and seven veg". Near to me we have a (very popular) pub where they serve food that's utterly disgusting, in dirty surroundings, but the plates are piled-high. I have relatives who need reinforcements on their furniture, they are so heavy, and their plates are three times the size of ours. Big is beautiful.

Is that choice innate - in the genes - or is it acquired behaviour from childhood? In my personal experience it follows along family lines. I'm not talking here about a bit of a bulge...I am talking about serious over-eating.

Every single family I know in my circle where the parents are seriously obese, the children are, likewise. With other disorders that are possibly genetic one tends to see the trait in maybe one out of three, seldom in all of them.

So to your point that there is a difference between 'good food' and 'bad? food' I suggest that there is another major category. Food for the sake of eating. Comfort food. Rich in fat and sugar and probably protein as well.

Could schooling change that? From those I know, I doubt it. The obese that I know are not fools, they have high enough IQs and they know that they not only overeat, they eat the wrong food combinations. Is it a weakness? Dunno, not my field, but healthy it ain't.

I have my doubts about cooking lessons in schools. When I was a kid these things were taught in the guides and the scouts. In an interesting environment not a boring old kitchen. Or by mum or gran as in my case.

There are many possible things one could do for children but when I think about them in depth they start to feel manipulative and creepy.

At the end of the day, a high proportion of people have little control over what they eat, given a ready supply of food. If five in one hundred has to some degree a problem with alcohol, maybe thirty in one hundred has that problem with food? Historically it might not have been a problem because food was not so affordable - available. Indeed, the person who could gorge three days food in a single sitting would have had an evolutionary advantage over the person who can only pick at their food like a bird :) So maybe the fatties are the fittest!

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Thistledo

Teaching kids to cook

At the age of about 12, we were given a choice at school, domestic science or sewing. Hate sewing so obviously I selected cooking. It was a social occasion where the kids were together in the rather splendid mini kitchens. So important for kids to work together and it was fun. It was only an hour each week. The lessons also taught us to clean up after cooking and put things away. We made a Victoria sponge one week and mine got top marks. It was perfect and I was fortunate enough to have lovely deep orange yolks in the eggs. Would I mind giving a slice to the headmistress with her afternoon tea? I was famous!
Yes, I'm all in favour of teaching cooking in the school. As important as playing sports.

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Anneline

Cooking in schools

Same here: at 12 I could choose between domestic science, woodwork and music. I opted for music and the next year for typing and after that accounting (as the choices changed). My mum is a good cook, but didn't really pass anything on to me apart from boiling the perfect rice. Rather she made sure there was always home cooked food on the table, thereby breeding the habit of eating proper food. So when I started to live on my own it only felt natural to do the same. Learned how to cook from books, tv and Internet.

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violet eyes

teaching kids to cook

Going to a girls only school as most were in the 50s/60s I don't think we had a choice. I liked Domestic Science which lasted all morning. I also liked sewing, making our own clothes was good. We made our summer skirts and a blouse and after leaving school I was able to make many of my own clothes and then when the children were born made most of their little dresses etc. So school taught me a lot.
As for today I don't think teaching kids to cook in school will ever be like it was in my day which is a real shame as it would set them up for life, but we all know that.
I don't know what the answer is to get young people interested in food and cooking. Does it start in the home? yes probably it does but if your Mother or Father doesn't cook even the most basic meals, what hope is there for those children.
There are too many ready meals available to buy and not to mention take aways all over the place no wonder many young people can't be bothered to learn how to cook.
Their health will suffer.

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Yummy

Teaching Kids to Cook

" Does it start in the home? yes probably it does but if your Mother or Father doesn't cook even the most basic meals, what hope is there for those children.
There are too many ready meals available to buy and not to mention take aways all over the place no wonder many young people can't be bothered to learn how to cook.
Their health will suffer."


Violet Eyes , I so agree, what chance do they have if the seed is not implanted, and they do not have role models at home to show them the joys of cooking and creating meals and dishes that will feed them for the rest of their lives (and others). They may become very adept at piercing the lid of a ready made meal, or trotting off to the take-away, but nothing else.
Therefore I see it as very important that they are taught the basics at school. We had Domestic Science too, and was taught laundry, ironing and cleaning, not just cooking, and the very first thing we made was Cinnamon Toast, not very enthralling but it was something we made, and ate, with a cup of tea.

Yes,imo, definitely it should be on the curriculum.

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Alan

Teaching adults to cook as well?

This is an interesting discussion, and I can also see both sides.

On the subject of teaching 'dysfunctional' parents, I teach Healthy Eating and Nutrition to adults, in primary schools and SureStart centres. Many of the students have children at the school, and creche facilities are provided for under age children. The students all have their reasons for coming on the courses, but many do so for the very reason that has been discussed here, i.e. they were never taught to cook and want to learn now they have their own children to cook for.

The courses are run by the council, and although still in its infancy, the scheme is already showing some success, I started two years ago teaching in one school and now 8 schools and centres have run courses, and this term 4 schools have signed up. So teaching parents can be a good idea, they will hopefully pass on their skills to their children.

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jampling

Teaching kids to cook

That's brilliant, Alan, and just the sort of thing that can make a real difference. I am thrilled to hear that programs like this exist. Kids really DO need to have parental examples to follow, whether through actual teaching in the home (ideal) or by exposure to decent home-cooked food. You are helping to make this possible.

Good luck with the course, Alan. I am sure you make the most amazing teacher for these students.

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Yummy

Sterling Work Alan

Congratulations Alan, in making a definite difference to your pupils, and their families.

I must say however, that the people enrolling on these courses are the ones who "want" to be involved. I am concerned that there are children out there whose parents couldn't "give a fig", and so to teach young children, capture their imagination young and sow the seed, then we may get a generation who "really" want to make that difference and not rely on convenience food.

 
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