Teaching like cooking

From my understanding, a good cook must enjoy eating food; from my understanding, a good teacher must have his/her own way to master learning. Today I just realized that teaching is similar to making food.

I think anyone can make good food as long as there is enough care. I remember in one of the episodes in the anime series The best in Chinese (food), the young chef figured out one of the secret ingredients in his mom’s famous dish is love, the care of food and the customers. As is written in Shara Deel’s article, there is no universal method that can be applied by any educators for any situations. Enough care and devotedness can make much more difference than any teaching methods being used carelessly. I see many teachers and have been taught by many of them. I felt surprised when I knew that there are so many theories and techniques in pedagogy. Most of the teachers were professionally trained as teachers and they supposed to know these pedagogies. How Come many of them sucked in teaching? Then I realized that teaching is not like solving an engineering problem where, with enough proficiency, one can solve the problem in an autopilot mode. All great work includes full care. In the real world, not everything needs to be great. Good work in most cases can work fine. To make great food, the cook needs to devote all his/her attention to the food. There is a dish made of tofu. In that dish, a silk tofu was cut into slices and then further cut into shreds. The silk tofu is something that can be broken with a single touch. One can imagine how much effort should be put into making this dish. Are people amazed by the taste of this dish? Or maybe they feel the taste by feeling the care of the cook.


(source: https://www.xiachufang.com/recipe/102175939/)

Like every cook has his/her own flavor, every educator has his/her own teaching style. It may take a while to figure out what the favorite food is and what the best food the cook can make. I taught a class which was recorded for students reviewing. I watched that video and found out that I did not have a deep voice and sounded like an experienced knowledgeable elder professor. I’m a young man. Why should I act as an elder professor? I gave a lecture last week and I asked one of my friends who was sitting in the class about how I did. He said you looked achievable and seemed knowing what you were talking about so we felt confident in you. It seems the feedback is OK. Maybe I should just reinforce what I am good at and try to fix or avoid what could cause problems.

14 thoughts on “Teaching like cooking

  1. Ethan says:

    I think you hit on a good point, caring about your teaching is just as if not more important than all the pedagogical theories you can throw out there. We need to be careful to find the appropriate balance between the two that works best for our students.

    As for the physical professor voice, I think “fake it till you make it” applies. If you keep acting like you know the material as well as the older professor, one day you will wake up and realize you already do.

  2. robert says:

    I like the comparison between a chef and teacher. Both work from an established set of ingredients, but the handling of the preparation and delivery of the dishes varies significantly. I also appreciate the way that you ended the entry – “Maybe I should just reinforce what I am good at and try to fix or avoid what could cause problems.” I wholly agree with this statement. Teaching requires a degree of honesty with yourself and others, meaning, that it is our duty to recognize when certain lessons or approaches do not work – or succeed – in achieving the goals we set. This way we continue to improve the “recipe”, “preparation”, and “delivery” in the classroom. Yet we should not hesitate to draw upon available resources, such as supportive colleagues, workshops, or ideas from the class.

  3. greicism says:

    I’m no cook and I’m no teacher, but I really enjoyed the comparison here. I also love the part about people perhaps appreciating the care that goes into the cooking more than the taste of the dish itself. I’ve felt this way about a couple of professors. I thoroughly enjoyed their courses, but didn’t necessarily love the subject. Yet their care and passion about the topic was evident, and that made me appreciate the course that much more.

    • qichao says:

      I also had this feeling. Their passion attracted me and it would make me feel bad if I was not engaged in that class.

  4. sofrgp says:

    Great analogy!
    I am with you, we must find our own personalized “flavor” to teach.
    We just have to keep in mind that out there several strategies have been proved effectiveness, so, if we incorporate those to our own teaching way, the chance of “successful” will be greater.

  5. I really like your analogy! It will take us time to figure it out what teaching approach works better for the students and even what is our own style. As beginners, the idea of recording the class is very good. In that way, we can see the things that we have to improve.

  6. Carlos F Mantilla P says:

    Hi Qichao, agreed with comments above, great analogy… as teachers (or future teachers) we need to create some recipes, and as you and sofrgp mentioned, there are already different ones that have worked for others, and that should be a good starting point. Then put our marks on them, have some twists here and there so that all ingredients are in balanced.

  7. Amy Hermundstad says:

    Great post! I really like your analogy and I appreciate your statement that “Like every cook has his/her own flavor, every educator has his/her own teaching style.” And it can take some time, practice, experimentation, feedback, and reflection to find that flavor, that style.

  8. Armani says:

    Hahaha! Like you analogy a lot!!! Just like the 紅燒肉 cooked by every Chinese mama is all different!!! I also remember when I was making Chinese dish for my American roommates, I just dumped more sugar in the pot. hehe … yayyy! It worked!!! They love it so much!!!!! 😀 I agree with you that teaching is just like cooking! Hopefully we will know how to be a good chief ultimately…..

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