I have recently noticed that one of my missing family members is broadcasting to the internet her desire that I write more on this blog.  I suppose it is a sad sign of neglect when I have to look up my username and password because I don’t visit here often enough.  It’s amazing how quickly I can find other ways to while away my free time as well as the times when I should be working on homework or studying for tests.  The entire culinary arts course so far has been an odd concoction of trying to avoid overconfidence and feeling completely lost and bewildered.  If I was asked, I couldn’t even say how much I’ve learned, which could be a good sign or a bad.  Because the entire school experience is so new to me it can be difficult to tell how much of what I think I’ve learned is common to the entire college and how much is just the oddities of this program.   Much of the learning in the school can be done through osmosis, which I enjoy.  Every one learns from things around them, but I think that being taught at home has made me very comfortable with paying attention to those ahead of me in their studies and trying to learn what they’re learning, as well as what I’m supposed to be learning.  Sometimes, it seems that what they’re teaching is so basic that the time spent on it is pointless.  At other times, you wonder why they didn’t give you any instructions before tossing you into the melee of the work spaces.

The class that I will be finishing up with next week has been an odd mixture of learning and boredom.  Baking I is based heavily on a textbook entitled How Baking Works.  The book itself is fascinating, telling me all sorts of things I didn’t know about gluten and polyunsaturated fats.  The lab classes, which we have Tuesdays and Thursdays are very relaxed and enjoyable, even if it just feels like doing over and over the same thing that I’ve done for many years – that is, baking bread.  The experiment class a week ago was very enjoyable, as my lab partner and I got to explode cupcakes in the oven.  Or, more properly, we watched them collapse from lack of structure.   The test was more difficult than I thought it would be, with many good questions – not multiple choice.   Lecture days, though.  Perhaps it’s the nature of a lecture, something I’ve rarely had to use as a learning method.  Even when my siblings and I viewed taped lectures as part of our science studies, sitting around a table eating mac and cheese and discussing the video as it plays is much different from having to pay strict attention from a plastic chair for two hours.  Perhaps is the way the lectures seem to be turning out.  I know I enjoyed most of the lecture time in Culinary Foundations, the class that came just before this one.  Besides the fact that there were more in-class discussions, the information was orderly and thorough.

Maybe what is frustrating me the most right now is that I truly believe that the teacher is educated and knowledgeable about what she is teaching.   She’s good-natured, friendly, and always willing to answer questions.  Whether it’s the answer you wanted is another matter.   One of the advantages I’ve never realized about being taught by my mother is that it’s fairly easy to communicate what I’m asking.  So many times over the course of time I’ve been in classes here, I’ve heard students ask a question about what the teacher just said.  You can literally hear sighs from the people around you as the teacher launches into their reply, which consistently seems to be a near word-for-word repetition of what they just said.  At the end of this, they will ask the student if they understand.  The student will hesitate, the teacher will relaunch and I wonder how anyone learns if this is the common method of communication in public schools.  I can see now that I’ve been spoiled with clear concise answers to my questions.  Well, at least the important ones.  The not so vital ones have taught me many ways to twist people’s words.  Yes, I’m looking at you Daddy.

Back to the point of learning in college, though.  I have admitted that I think I could learn more and retain more information if I spent the two hours of lecture time reading through my textbook.  I think I would also have been more confident during the test last week as I stared at the questions that I knew I’d read the answers to briefly, but that hadn’t been gone over during class time.  Next test, I’m certainly studying harder for.   Not to worry, though, parents over there, who are frowning at the thought that I didn’t study hard enough.  Out of 52 points, I was given 51 1/2.  Normally I wouldn’t post this out here, but I do wish to make a point.  I knew most of the answers, even if only vaguely, or not even from the class or textbook.  There was more than one question, however, that I guessed on, or felt that I left partially unanswered.  I do know that it’s the teacher’s prerogative to grade however they see fit, but I feel that I was given more credit than I deserved.  She did give fair warning before the test, I suppose, that if you could give a logical guess as to the answer, she would give you credit.  I’m still confused, though.  One of the questions that I hesitated over asked which item would give better rise, shortening or margarine.  I took a guess from what I remembered and said shortening.  When I was allowed to look over the test Thursday, I saw that this had been marked incorrect.  In her notes, the teacher said ‘nice guess, but margarine actually gives better rise’.  Alright, so, out of two choices, I picked the wrong one.  Maybe you won’t agree with me, but how do you get 1/2 credit for the question off of that?  I think it’s just because I didn’t leave it blank.  And the fact that I’m willing to guess at things I don’t remember doesn’t seem to me to be a fair reflection of what I’ve learned or how I’m doing in the class.  If my guess is correct, all for the better, and I’ll remember it for the next time.   From this test, though, I think I’ve learned that I’ll learn more in this class if I police myself, rather than expecting the teacher to do it.  So, this weekend, I’m going to re-read that section on malt syrup that I don’t remember enough about.  And I’m going to go over the section where it talks about steam leavening and fats.   Even if all the students in class pass with A’s, I want to feel that I’ve earned what I’m being credited with.

So, yes, I’m learning in college.  I’ll try to share here with you specific things I’ve learned, such as the fact that teachers can be surprised by the fact that you turn in all your assignments on time and properly completed.  I’ll try to remember that everything I’m learning isn’t necessarily the best thing to learn.  And I’m learning how very grateful I am that my mother taught me how to teach myself.

A post for you, Gypsy.