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.
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.
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.