This semester finally almost comes to the end. The GEDI course has brought me different perspectives on teaching. In this post, I just want to do a few reflection on the article by Dr. Palmer…..

First of all, I like the analogy that teaching is just like cooking. For example, adding a little spices may change the taste of the dishes. If you add too many sugars or salts, people may enjoy it at the moment, but it would not be good for their health in the long term. Different people have different tastes. How to cook a dish that can satisfy everyone’s taste buds?…. There are so so many things we need to learn to become a good cook or say a good teacher?! I would say the best cooker is the one who doesn’t need recipes; instead, who can use his/her intuition or experience to make delicious food! However, I believe that in order to get to that level, more than 10 years experience is necessary!!!

Next, it’s very interesting to recognize the differences between the Western and Asian “FOOD”. In my opinion, the teaching styles in the West is definitely more creative and more interaction between teachers and students. Besides performance, the Western teachers seem to more care about students’ emotion. The courses’ contents are encouraged to include more projects and case studies, instead of exams. In the East, I remember tons of exams were torturing me every semester, and I was the top student in class, but I had no idea which subject really interested me. However, I like the fact that the traditional learning environment can provide students with more systematic and logical way to learn new knowledge. I think this plays an important role when we were establishing the basic foundation and developing our studying strategies.


At this moment, the only thing I really want to do is to find an opportunity to teach and apply those methods I have learned from this class!!!

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12 Responses to Again, TEACHING & COOKING

  1. Jyotsana Sharma says:

    Wonderful analogy Armani. 🙂

  2. Ethan says:

    I like the recurring comparison to cooking and food we’ve had in the course material. I agree with you, this course has given me more motivation to look for opportunities to teach and try out whats been learned. I’d suggest though that trying to please everyone with your recipe may be a noble but impossible challenge. To continue the food metaphor, while a dish might not please everyone, the food is still nutritious. You might maintain more sanity in the process by striving to pleasing most while satisfying everyone.

  3. Kaisen says:

    I can’t wait to teach my first class with the methods/skills/experience that I learnt from this class, too.

  4. Zhanyu (Grace) says:

    So the food analogies continue! And I like them. I would say that sometimes education could be an acquired taste. Students may not respond well to something an instructor does at first, but slowly over time, they may change their minds. We probably have all had courses that we disliked while taking it, but then in retrospect, thanked ourselves for going through with it because we learned something. And I’ll take you up on your cooking offer =).

  5. Chang says:

    The differences between Western and Asian teaching styles are totally true. I think part of the reason is that the evaluation systems are focused on different aspects. Like some western people like Chinese food very much, maybe there will be some interesting happen when some teacher apply the Chinese teaching style here. I might try that if I have the opportunity haha 🙂

  6. I’m also a fan of this analogy. I liken this to recipes. You stick to what you know at first but then as time goes on and you start to gain confidence, you begin to tweak things. Sometimes these additions work without fault and you wonder what took so long to add them. Other times, it’s a spectacular disaster and you learn from your mistakes. I’m very much from the mind set of improvement through trial and error, and feel that if you’re not out there trying out new things because you’re afraid of failure, you’ll never truly improve yourself. Things extends to the classroom and beyond.

  7. Zach Gould says:

    I agree with all these thoughts and would like to add another layer to the cake, so to speak. The underlying assumption here is that everyone at the table ( or in the classroom ) has to eat the same meal (get the same exact lesson). The individualization of modern education on a student by student basis allows us to approach each student and their learning needs/interests creatively. Sure most of the ingredients for each lesson will be the same. But the best teachers ( and the ones most tuned in to the real preferences of their students) will know how to leave a little of this ingredient out for one student and add a little bit of that for another student. It takes time and attention to get to this point, but the facility to actively adapt the recipe, even on the fly in the middle of the class, is ultimately going to be what really inspires our students and makes us great educators.

  8. I also feel the same, I’m interested in teaching a course and seeing if I can apply what I’ve learned in class! Reading about the concepts and hearing others’ experiences have made me both excited and scared to teach!

  9. qichao says:

    I guess that the exam-heavy education systems in East Asia come from the invention of the imperial examinations (科舉). Before the imperial examinations, people are evaluated by human observation. It was found that the examination policy is more stable in terms of selection.

  10. Yang liu says:

    I totaly agree the different educational styles in class in both western and eastern countries. I hope these tow styles styles would combine in class in future, which is a great expereince for studetns.

  11. maguerra says:

    Thanks for sharing this comment! IT reminded me of Nisbett’s book “The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why” (2003). Here, he discussed the core cognitive and cultural differences between the East and the West whose roots lie in ancient China and Greece and which have developed over time and continue to exist today. And I think this translates to education as well. Through various studies, Nisbett concludes that Easterners have a more holistic view of the world, one in which all aspects are interrelated and interdependent, emphasizing the importance of relationships, whereas Westerners take a more analytic approach to life and view the world via categorization and rules, emphasizing the importance of independence. His thesis is that the modern differences in cognition and intellect between the East and the West lie in the ecologies of ancient China and Greece, which “were drastically different—in ways that led to different economic, political, and social arrangements” Do you think this applies to other cultures? How about when the same course is taught to multiple cultures?

  12. Shiqiang says:

    I enjoy reading your post and your metaphor of “cooking”. Studying in VT for over 2 years sometimes get me think about the difference between Western and Asian way of teaching. Personally, I always felt stressed out by my teachers on all subjects before college. I feel that the situation may be caused by the large population, limited resources, and fierce competition followed. Cultural difference can be the second cause as Asian people tend to believe that education is the only way to get a desirable life, especially for poor families. Hence, too much attention is paid on education, so does the stress. At current stage, I just wish that if I will come back to Asia to teach in universities, I can practice what I learn here and focus more on diversity, universal precautions, and mindfulness.

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