Tuesday, March 24, 2009

All Cakes Deserve the Best Ingredients

I've been trying to come up with an analogy to express why I dislike pull-out as a means of addressing special needs, specifically pull-out enrichment for gifted and talented students. I dislike labels to begin with, and I believe good teaching is good teaching and all students benefit from a strong, well-integrated student-centered approach to learning and a school culture that values and encourages excellence. Please note: I understand that there are some
special needs that are extreme and that may require pull-out programs and other resources. My point is that excellent classrooms can meet the true needs of many different learners. Not enough of these classrooms exist.

Let's think of each child as a cake that we are baking. In reality, there is no comparison to the growth and development of a human being to a cake. I know that. Let's move on.

There are many different kinds of cakes. That is the way it is supposed to be, right? All cakes are good. A chocolate cake is not supposed to be a banana cake, nor any other kind of cake. Each cake strives to be the most delicious cake it can be.

Many ingredients go into creating the cake. Since this is about education, let's talk about the important ingredient of education. Have you ever tasted a cake made from a boxed mix? I liken this to a "boxed" curriculum--worksheets and textbooks. These days there are some pretty fancy cake mixes out there, made with better than average ingredients and producing a darn good cake. These mixes, like a private education, cost a pretty penny. But no boxed cake mix can compare to a homemade cake, baked with quality ingredients. Think project-based, differentiated classroom. The best ingredients are good for all cakes. Fresh, organic eggs and high-quality butter are not going to turn a chocolate cake into a carrot cake, but they will enhance both cakes and help them be the best they can be.

Some bakers believe that their cake should be "pulled out" of the regular oven and baked in a convection oven. The convection oven is accelerated, and true, the cake may bake faster. However, their ultimate destiny is no different than that of the slower-baking cake. Each becomes the cake they were meant to become.

Some bakers insist on worrying over their cakes. They think if they constantly open the oven to check on the cake's progress, they will improve its outcome. Not so. They actually interfere with the all important process of cake development. All a baker can do is make sure that his cake is given the best possible ingredients and then love and appreciate it.

image: Graduation Cake Guy from CarbonNYC's flickrstream end note: had I searched flickr for cakes first, I might never have written this. Wow. I mean WOW. There are some crazy-talented cake artists out there. If you want to see some amazing looking cakes go search flickr!


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Andrea!

I'm with you with the idea that all cakes deserve the best ingredients. There is, of course, the important issues of cost and availability of ingredients.

Some quality ingredients are more costly than others. Some ingredients vary in price erratically. Some homes and kitchens cannot afford the same range of ingredients that others can. Some ingredients are simply unavailable from time to time.

Using your analogy of baking a cake, how can you rationalise the final product in terms of available ingredients and the capricious costs of some of them against the home budget?

Catchya later
from Middle-earth

Andrea said...

Hi Ken,
Of course the analogy has it's limitations. It's like a sponge cake, full of holes.
When I wrote this, I was thinking only of schools, not home education or home budgets. The baker I had in mind was the school, not the parents.

It is true that ingredients can be expensive or unavailable. There will always be obstacles in our quest for the best quality for our cakes. The point I was trying to get across was that we should put our focus where it will do the most good overall, rather than spend valuable resources on special programs that will only benefit a few students.

One of the people I asked to read this earlier wrote, "It is as if we value some cakes more than others. "