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HarryB3

Knives in the Classroom? Oh My!

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I teach grades 7-9 in a Montessori School. In the previous years we have been able to cook on a limited basis—usually just teaching how to make a specific dish. In the fall I have been able to allocate 2 hours every Friday to actually teach a little more. But what to teach?

I am torn in two directions. Firstly, too many students eat crap, either fast food or something out of the freezer. When we cook, the students’ desire and curiosity to learn is readily apparent. Not than many are fortunate to have families that cook or even rarer, allow them to experiment. What I want to do is use the time to teach some knife skills and some basic cooking techniques. I want to keep it simple simple simple! I want them to be able to cook meals for their families and themselves.

The other direction is historical. This year our history curriculum will focus on world history from early civilizations to the Renaissance. I would like to integrate these studies with awareness of cuisines of the world, taking the time to make a dish from these cultures.

Related to history are food preservation techniques. I would like to do this as well, showing how excess food was kept from being wasted or made available during times when fresh food was scarce or unavailable. I would like to show pickling, drying, smoking, canning, cheese making (maybe), etc.

I have a kitchen in the classroom. It is equipped with a electric glass top stove and oven. We also have a propane grill and on occasion I have brought propane camping stoves for cooking outside on our patio.

Most students will be in this class from grades 7 to 9 so there is no rush to get everything done in one year. They are quite mature and responsible to there are no concerns about knives and the like. Their enthusiasm is unbridled. Although last year a parent was shocked that the knives were in a block on the counter rather than being locked up! When I asked her where her knives were at home she dropped that concern.

I have no formal training in either cooking or teaching cooking. What have I bitten off? What concerns should I have? I am looking to see what thoughts, suggestions, contributions the people of this community might have.

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I think you ideas are wonderful, and I wish that something like that would have been available when I was in Jr. High School.

However, be aware of the litigious society we live in these days. A sharp knife, even in the hands of a professional, can take off a finger tip very easily. I think that is why god invented fingernails, but even they cut through fairly easily.

I would make sure that you had signed waivers from the student's parents/guardians that it is ok to teach them knife skills for use in a kitchen environment, i.e. that they will be handling sharp knives and spell out the possible dangers that could occur.

doc

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Thank you for the comments. I will have a waiver in place for participants. We are a charter school so students are there by parents choice and overall the parents are quite supportive. I have thought about using butcher's gloves for protection but having not used them myself, I am not sure about how they change the "feel." Perhaps I should put one on and try it.

Closed toed shoes are require as well.

I also want students to explore new tastes and try things they may not eat at home. Things like different cheeses, herbs, vegetables, etc. I don't want it to be Fear Factorish, just want them to try it.

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Thank you for the comments.  I will have a waiver in place for participants. 

Check with the school's insurer. They can advise you.

SB (knows a lot of plaintiff's lawyers) :wink:

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You should check out the school garden/cooking program that Alice Waters has going...I'm sure you could get ideas aplenty.

One thing you might do is have them grow things in pots - I'm assuming your school is not equipped with a garden - and have them use those things in cooking. It's important to know where you food comes from, right? You can grow basil, chives, cilantro and whatnot, things that spring up fast and are ready to use quickly. You could even make that part of other lessons.

One thing that I experienced in the first days of cooking school was a taste comparison class. The idea is that you get something nasty, like Kraft grated parmesan, and taste that alongside some really good parmesan. This gives them an idea of what is good and what isn't. You could do a McD's burger vs and burger you grill yourselves etc. Emphasis the ingredients and suchlike and you may have some converts. Or you can do a range of things - I recently was in a Greek market and the lady there had some time to kill so she offered me a feta tasting. They had fetas from $2 a pound to $15 a pound, and the difference was astronomical. She explained what each was good for - some for cooking, some for salads, some just for eating etc. Very interesting and now keeps me from wasting money on more expensive items when a cheaper one will do and vice versa.

And there is nothing wrong with it being a tad on the Fear Factor side...nothing too gross, but maybe a blind taste test of various jams, or different fruits or types of chocolate or something like that. After all, one of the best ways to get a kid to eat something is to get his friends to eat it first. Just ask Jamie Oliver.

I'm sure Maria Montessori would approve :smile:


Edited by Badiane (log)

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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what a joke. I was taking home ec in 7th grade(with real knives), forced to run 2-3 miles a day for pe, a gun club, and more i don't recall-all in the Peoples Paradise of Kalifornia-not that many years ago....

The wussification of Amerika continues.

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what a joke. I was taking home ec in 7th grade(with real knives), forced to run 2-3 miles a day for pe, a gun club, and more i don't recall-all in the Peoples Paradise of Kalifornia-not that many years ago....

The wussification of Amerika continues.

Wussiness isn't the issue, its our sue happy blame someone else culture. FWIW I have taught students to shoot on our school camping trips and we have PE every day. I fail to see the joke...

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I'd say, as a bit of a yoot. Firstly make things that taste good (sneak in some healthfullness, but really, if it's fresh and homemade it's just better than most of the crap kids are eating) Make your agenda about the food, and food thoughts and thoughfullness will follow. Teach them what things can be frozen (Pantry items). Make sure not to try to teach anything you yourself are not entirely comfortable with (say sushi) or anything where you have to compromise ingrediants for reason of cost. Consider cooking peasant food from different regions. Make sure you plate the dishes as an example and have the kids emulate your plating it's nice to learn compostition, too.

Pasta. make the dough, and make filled ravioli with the meat from:

Braising (searing meat too)

Roasting (chicken) + brining

saute/ stirfry (I always hate stirfry)

Rices (paella? Risotto, arroz con pollo?)

Fish tacos

Sauces (tomato, cream, pan sauces, brown butter)

Deep fry (chicken or doughnuts) (yeasted bread)

Garnish and Plating bring in some carrots, potatoes, squirt bottles etc make gaufrette roses etc.

Salad dressings ( vinagrette, fruit vinagrette, creamy, caesar)

Vegetables (mashed potatoes, greenbeans, artichoke, carrots, peas)

Yogurt or cheese

Eggs (scramble, omlette, soft and hard boil, pan fry)

Quick pickles

Burgers and seasoning meat properly.

Meatloaf (creative additions)

Pasta with sauce (proper pasta cookery)

good luck this sounds like a lot of fun!!!!!!

:smile::smile:


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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You should check out the school garden/cooking program that Alice Waters has going...I'm sure you could get ideas aplenty.

Thank you for that tip! I just found http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/homepage.html

We will have an herb garder growing. We planted an assortment in the spring. Right now our tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers are growing like mad in the summer heat!

I love the food comparison idea too! Many thanks!

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My daughter is 10 and is taking a cooking class during the month of July. There are 4th - 6th graders in the class. Their first take home assignment was to go over things they 1. could do alone 2. do with supervision 3. only an adult could do.

Included various things - use knives, turn on the stove, use pot holders to take things from the oven, use a strainer, use the microwave...... and I had to check the boxes next each and sign on the bottom.

So far she has made lemon ice, learned to decorate a plate w/squeeze bottle sauces, made pizza dough & pizza and cheddar cheese biscuits.

Even though these aren't really "healthy" foods it's gotten her excited about cooking. She asks me questions when I'm in the garden or I'm cooking. She is also learing to measure, read a recipe and food sanitation while she is making these "fun" things.

Today she saved a biscuit for me and nearly knocked me down when I came home, "look what I made today, you have to try it, I saved you some, Mom can we make them tommorrow?" She was beaming :)

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what a joke. I was taking home ec in 7th grade(with real knives), forced to run 2-3 miles a day for pe, a gun club, and more i don't recall-all in the Peoples Paradise of Kalifornia-not that many years ago....

The wussification of Amerika continues.

Wussiness isn't the issue, its our sue happy blame someone else culture. FWIW I have taught students to shoot on our school camping trips and we have PE every day. I fail to see the joke...

not refering to "you"(i've been told by staff that "you" is a bad word here-it may ruffle feathers and incite violent behavior). Yes it is the "not my fault, if there wasn't a knife around i wouldn't have done XXXXXX".

Sorry, on topic> anything quick, easy, with minimal amt of prep, to hold interest. Things the kids can do at home(minus the micro ;). Salads, quick pastas, hot and cold sandwiches, egg dishes, quick baking desserts, doughs that can be formed prior or use store bought dough or breads(think pizza-kiddies go crazy) and bake the next day with their own toppings. I'm sure you know let customize to their hearts content.

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I remember we made Jelly in home ec then sealed the jars with wax...

with all the herbs maybe a quiche, then they can go home and make brunch...

or a yogurt cheese start on thursday draining the yogurt then on friday you could add herbs and maybe make crackers and a fruit platter

strawberry shortcake, they will learn biscut technique and to macerate fruit and whip cream, you could even take some cream further and make butter to put on biscuts with homemade jelly

:cool:

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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no offense taken dano1...

I never felt the wussy was directed at me at anytime. No harm no foul.

The zeal that children show is the best reward there is. Two instances leap to mind:

When we take our standardized tests we have a breakfast buffet so everyone has a good start on the morning. Students bring in eggs, bacon, pancake batter, etc. Students are assigned prep, cooking, serving and cleaning tasks each day. We do this for the entire week. This spring I was stuck in the office and about 25 minutes late getting to my class. When I arrived food was being served up on a buffet line already. They had taken the initiative to have someone let them in the room and they got started all on their own. For what it's worth, test scores were quite high!

A couple years ago I intoduced the pannini. We made several varieties and they were wolfed down with great enthusiasm. That weekend I received a call from a parent. They were at Target and one of their sons was begging for a contact press grill. They went ahead and purchased it. He made panninis for his family, including his grandparents the next day. I got a thank you from the parents the next day!

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Maybe you could have an overall theme, to keep things a bit under control? You have a huge range of topics you want to include! Something like sausages. All kids like sausages, dont they?

People have been stuffing animal guts with all sorts of stuff for a few millenia.

It would lend itself to the food preservation topic - drying, salting, smoking etc., as at the the big end of autumn slaughter of animals that could not be overwintered.

You could introduce different ingredients or accompaniments to demonstrate different countries, historic events etc - no ketchup or mashed potato in the Old World until Columbus "discovered" (trying to keep it politically correct here folks) the New World.

Just about any animal, vegetable, herb, spice etc could be included in sausages, or a sausage meal and students could then think about how trade routes were opened up, and voyages of discovery embarked upon to find spices. Lots of history there.

There are probably other "themes" too, but I must away to the kitchen to get dinner ready!

Janet.


Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Congrats on being in the middle of a pretty damn exciting sounding curriculum!

Just a couple of random ideas:

Breadmaking always charmed my inner child (you get to stretch and pound this stuff! It does biochemical voodoo and gets big! It looks so funny when it deflates when you punch it down! :biggrin: ) Plus getting them hooked on real bread is IMO a very good thing.

Doing an all-day smoked pork butt might be a bit challenging to fit into the class schedule (not to mention attention-span), but you might do a little indoor smoking in a wok or one of those stovetop smoker gizmos.

Are there any field trips connected with this program? It would be really cool to take the kids to someplace doing artisanal foods, or to a small independent farm.


Edited by mizducky (log)

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If you are really ready to try something new, try a curriculum partly based on the concept Roger Welsch was talking about in "Weed 'em and Reap"

Here's the blurb off of the back.

"Join best-selling humorist Roger Welsch as he gathers and prepares wild fare, and soon you, too, will be able to amaze everyone around the campfire by serving up a salad, stew, vegetables, drink, or dessert made from ingredients found within yelling distance of the tents. This fun-to-read yet practical guide teaches more about morels, cattails, and smut (the fungus kind) than you ever thought possible. There's also information on making wines, jams, and jellies, and even gathering and enjoying acorns the Native American way."

ISBN 0-7627-3907-X


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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