Mayo's Clinics

Jun 25, 2017, 20:45

Mayo’s Clinic: The Habit of Curiosity

Wondering and thinking about everything that is done in the kitchen—and considering how and why—are important behaviors we want to build in our students and encourage a stance of questioning.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

For much of the fall, we discussed helping students learn about themselves, assisting them in taking charge of their lives and in other ways building their professional skills. This spring, we will focus on another aspect of working with students: helping them expand their curiosity and their creativity. This month, we will discuss developing the habit of curiosity.

A Habit of Curiosity
The habit of curiosity is a pattern of looking at and wondering about things throughout the day. It involves noticing when things do not work the way you expected them and asking why things happen the way they do. Since it means asking a range of questions—who, what, where, when, how and why—this process of thinking actively engages the mind and builds critical-thinking skills, something so necessary for our students.

Unfortunately, there are many people who can look at a loaf of bread, a plate presentation, a clear soup, a glass of wine or a composed salad and not see anything. They do not wonder why it was prepared the way it was, where it came from, what was involved, what else could have happened, and why it smells or tastes like it does. While that acceptance without noticing and thinking may be acceptable in a restaurant patron, it does not belong in a professional chef or a student learning to become a chef. Wondering and thinking about everything that is done in the kitchen and considering how and why are important behaviors we want to build in our students. Therefore, we need to encourage a stance of questioning and a habit of curiosity.

Mayo’s Clinic: Helping Students Take Charge—Letter Writing

One of the most powerful techniques to help students remember what they have learned and apply it to a range of situations is the assignment to write letters to themselves.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Last month, we discussed helping students take charge of their lives by using journals. This month, we will examine the power of personal letter writing as a way to encourage recognition of what students have learned and motivate them to apply it.

Writing
Almost any kind of writing helps students improve their writing and, usually, the clarity of their thinking. Students—and professionals—who cannot write something clear are typically not able to think clearly about the topic or think about it in an organized manner. Therefore, any writing assignment that asks for careful structure and logic will make a difference in a student’s education. Simply regurgitating definitions does not make a difference. Writing research papers, creating project reports, answering essay questions on a test, preparing reaction papers and developing reflection papers all help students organize their thoughts as well as build connection among ideas. Writing assignments also improve students’ recall of information.

Writing Letters to Myself
One of the most powerful techniques to help students and trainees remember what they have learned and apply it to a range of situations outside of the classroom is the assignment to write a letter to self. At the end of a course or specific topic, ask them to write themselves a letter describing what they have learned and how they plan to use it in the near future. When they get the letter some time later, it reminds them of what they learned and what they intended to do with their newly acquired information or skills.

Mayo’s Clinic: Helping Students Take Charge—Using Journals

Through culinary and reflective journaling, students can become empowered to consider broadly and deeply what they are learning and what they need to do in the future. Your role is simply to encourage them to write.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Last month, we discussed helping students take charge of their lives by using peer coaching. This month’s column is about using journals, a powerful strategy to assist students in taking charge of their education and their lives.

Journaling
The use of journals has a long and productive history in education. They have been used at all levels of education for a wide range of purposes. They have been used to foster creative-writing skills, research interests, interpersonal skills, intellectual reflection, personal rumination and critical thinking. Inviting—or requiring—students to keep journals in a way to encourage them to write, and writing is one of the most effective a ways to clarify thinking and improve writing, something we want to promote in all our students.

Culinary Journals
Many successful chefs have kept journals of good recipes, ingredient combinations, plate presentations, food events and menu ideas. They become repositories of good ideas to which the chefs can refer when needing to come up with new ideas or new practices. They are also very helpful in reviewing the progress and development of a chef’s thinking and career growth.

Some culinary faculty members encourage students to keep culinary journals while they are in school, as well, so that the students develop the habit of collecting and reviewing information. It builds good habits of note-taking for the future. In some schools, faculty members collect and read the journals, but most just encourage students to keep journals and use other techniques—tests, papers, cooking assignments and observation of performance—for evaluative purposes.

Mayo’s Clinic: Helping Students Take Charge—Peer Coaching

The advantages of peer coaching include helping people realize they can solve their own problems while helping others. It also broadens their awareness of how many people they can call on for assistance.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Last month, we discussed helping students take charge of their lives by using a technique called the three-legged conference. This month’s column is about peer coaching, and the rest of the fall will focus on other strategies for helping students learn to take charge of their education and their lives.

Coaching Explained
Coaching is the process of one person helping another person to clarify the coachee’s goals, jointly determining strategies to attain those goals, and providing support for reaching the goals. It differs from consulting since consultants provide advice based on their background knowledge and experience; coaches commit to help their coachees do what is important to the coachees. Coaching differs from therapy since therapists are interested in why, and they focus on the present and the past; coaches are interested in what and how, and they focus on the present and the future.

The challenge in coaching is really listening to the other person and not providing advice or judging what the other person says or wants to do. It is a full commitment to helping the other person in the areas where the other person wants to focus. Many teachers find coaching hard to do since it differs so radically from their normal work as teachers, dispensers of knowledge and evaluators. It is even hard to shift from facilitating learning to coaching; these functions draw on different sets of skills.

Mayo’s Clinic: Helping Students Take Charge—the Three-Legged Conference

The value of a three-legged conversation is that you can make some statements or ask questions that prompt students to think about the topic they are raising, and you do not have to completely answer the question in one meeting.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Last month, we discussed ways to begin a semester by making our students feel special; this month and for the rest of the fall, we will talk about ways to help them learn to take charge of their education and their lives. This month will focus on the strategy of the three legged conference.

Students Taking Charge of Themselves
One of the important goals of any teaching situation is promoting creative and critical thinking. However, we often apply it only to the subject matters that we formally teach and not very often to helping students become better industry professionals and better persons for several reasons: There is not enough time in class, these subjects are not part of the curriculum, and most of us never learned how to teach about professional and personal development.

When you stop to think about it, helping our students to build their decision-making skills is a great goal, and one that many of us in culinary and hospitality education have adopted, even if only on the edges of our teaching. After all, helping our students to become better professionals is an important part of our commitment to them and a unique aspect of culinary and hospitality education; other fields do not care so much about that aspect of their students’ lives. If you want to commit to this goal, there are several strategies; the easiest is using the three-legged conference to promote their thinking about themselves.