This year was it for me. With twenty six years of teaching reading and writing, then writing and reading and loving every nanosecond of it, I got sick. Literally. And had to slooooow way down. It’s not that I did the same thing for twenty six years. Never. One of my daily mantras is “change is a rest”. I am motivated and challenged by change. I am excited by it and driven by it.First, an Early Childhood Specialist. The magic of teaching tender little ones how to read, write, and think was an empowering gift. Picture twenty seven little cuddles wrapped around your arms and legs purring peace and security while reading to them. Can you feel the gentle tickles? The enormity of my responsibility was consistently compelling. Understanding that sacred trust inspired each day. Yet, they grew, and I grew.
Next, the middle years. As tweens and teens struggle to understand their place in this world, “we” abandon them. The intensity of the struggle is so consuming that it sucks the oxygen from the air. As adults, we flail, gasping. We panic in search of an exit to find space to breath. Yet, they need us to stay put. They need us to learn to breath their air. And, they need the strength and firmness of our guiding hand every step of the way. And now, more than ever, they need to learn all over again how to feed themselves.
Oh, they are eating, and eating, and eating, and eating. But they must learn how to feed themselves. Most of them have no idea where their food comes from, or how it got into their hand. Most are two and three generations away from the farm, and most have never even been to one.
This is the “New Age”. It is the age of instant gratification: “I am hungry; I will eat something.” And, in minutes, or even seconds, something is being eaten. Why? Because it can be. Our youth are satiating themselves effortlessly.There is no sense of satisfaction gained through the quest for food. There is no quest. There is no satisfaction. There is: “I want more.”
The notion of us as hunters and gathers is completely lost to the emerging culture of this generation. What is truly troubling is that meal planning, meal preparation, and the concept of working to meet one’s nutritional needs is mute. Gone. Dead as the dinosaurs. Almost forgotten. So very few families actually engage in the activity of preparing an evening meal with their children, or even for their children, that kids actually find it fun! It is a novelty. It has become an elite after school activity, and everyone’s favorite complementary course in middle school because most rarely get to do it at home. (If truth were to be told, they would find it fun at home if they did it everyday, as long as they were involved in the preparation process, and not just the clean up!)
Most know what salad dressing is. It comes in a bottle. Too, too few know how easy it is to make their own.
Most know how to open a can, rip open a bag, and use the microwave. Too, too few know how to peel a vegetable, to use the stove top, or to use an oven. Most know how to order take out, how to pick up fast food, and how to buy something processed out of a machine. Too, too few know what most vegetables taste like, or what any herbs taste like, let alone what they are called, or how to prepare them. Too, too few know how to handle a small knife, a peeler, or to even what constitutes a healthy well balanced snack, let alone how to make one.
So, this is my year. My year for a change. A change from the writing and reading and thinking to the shopping and cooking and thinking.
I am teaching FOODS! Back to work, and back to basics! My year to make a difference. I always try to do that in this profession, but this time it will be in a more fundamental aspect of my student’s lives: their ability to be independent, self reliant, and knowledgable regarding their personal health.
I plan to develop a framework that each can hang some very basic knowledge upon: what real food is, where real food comes from and what impact eating real food has upon one’s body and out local economy. The impact that purchasing real food has upon our local economy and the future of the world’s ability to continue to produce real food compared to purchasing processed and manufactured food is critical knowledge to impart to our young. It is my hope this knowledge will be wrapped in the positive experiences created in our foods classroom this year.
Our Foods Lab is a happy, happy place, just as every kitchen should be. Just as every home would be, if the kitchen was warmed with the smells of the evening meal inviting the family to be together. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the see-saw generation. The one that will take us back to our roots. To our tables. To our farms and our fields. To the parts of our past that we have forsaken in such a very short time for the convenience of Time. Yet, that is exactly what we have lost.