This trimester I’m sponsoring a local foods cooking club. So far it’s been a very popular offering. (Food is a big draw for many middle school students :)) It’s more work than another club might be. There’s the shopping and supervision of 15 middle schoolers with knives and access to hot stove burners. But it’s work that I enjoy because it’s giving me the opportunity to teach through creating experiences. I also love the way that students are helping to shape the experience of the club by suggesting recipes or offering to bring in ingredients.
I went to a very small middle school. The size of the school allowed a degree of flexibility unusual at most schools. It would not be uncommon for us to interrupt our usual schedule to serve lunch at a downtown soup kitchen, practice for hours for a play, walk to the library, or help the priest scatter the ashes of a parishioner. As I look back, it is those experiences which I remember the most.
Skill acquisition and practice is important. They are the slow, sometimes difficult to perceive, work of education. But experiences are also important. It’s easy to feel frustrated (and sometimes rightly so) when extracurriculars or trips take students out of our classrooms, but we also have to remember that the world is its own classroom.
(I started thinking about creating experiences while reading the Things I Know series of posts Zac Chase, an English teacher at Science Leadership Academy, has been writing. If you haven’t checked them out, you should!)