Teaching is difficult. Truly difficult. I have no formal training as an educator but this past summer I started a job where I am teaching one university-level course each semester. I love the subject-matter, I have had great interactions with my students and have learned a lot but it is probably the most difficult part of my job. It’s challenging to avoid second-guessing myself and ponder whether I am addressing all of their needs and making it a meaningful experience. I am also challenged by the sheer amount of time and effort that goes into researching and writing a coherent, interesting lecture. I realize that they can’t all be winners, but I do want to make sure that my students get some benefit out of the experience.
In discussing my teaching woes with sympathetic ears, I have received two pieces of very good advice about teaching. One was from my 88 year old grandmother who started her career in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Minnesota and the other from my college roommate who comes from a long line of educators–it’s in her blood. Respectively, this was their wisdom:
1.) Never lose control of the room
2.) Never care more than the students do
As I embark on my second semester of teaching while balancing program administration, student advising, grant writing, conferences and everything else that requires my attention (ahem: wedding plans) I feel like I these pieces of advice are transferable to almost any area of life including the kitchen. Particularly my grandmother’s advice about never losing control of the room.
So Lishy, (you may wonder) what does this have to do with your kitchen activities or the domestic utopia you are trying to build one day at a time?
Well, friends it seems that some life lessons can be effectively translated to the kitchen. Food blogs and the domestic divas of the world are intimidating because it seems like nothing ever goes awry. I mean, why should it? Who wants to write to the world about their mistakes or yucky creations? We bloggers have the power to edit our selections so that only the best products of our kitchen are shared with the world. However, I feel the need to confess that I have had a few cooking disasters in the past week–I tried an ill-fated attempt at cannellini bean gratin that…well, was underwhelming at best. I had made a large pot of it, too. It ended up as a big, colorless pot o’ meh with a few carrots for visual interest. It was bad. But in the same week I came up with a winner of a spicy peanut noodle dish that is being perfected and will be shared soon.
I will stop my meandering now and get down to the point I’m trying to make–teaching, cooking and any other developmental process in life draw upon some of the same fundamental rules for success: never let external factors get the better of you. One (or two…or three) bad experiences are just that–experiences. Pieces of a greater whole, nothing that should thwart you from your goals and overall mission. Also, never obsess over the mistakes because they don’t matter to anyone else as much as you might think. I was disappointed in the great cannellini caper of 2011, but Cam was a good sport and ate leftovers for lunch, discreetly adding goat cheese, salt/pepper and other additives to make it more palatable, but I was the one dissecting everything that went wrong and my mistakes along the way. He is my immediate audience and he didn’t care nearly as much as I did, when I realized this it was then time to get over it and move on to the next dish.
So there you have it–not only does life happen in the kitchen, life lessons happen there as well.