My students think I’m crazy

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 at 8:01 am

As many of you know, I am a teaching assistant for a couple of “Scientific Principles of Food Preparation” laboratories. For our first lab session, we discuss and experiment with sensory analysis of food–how our senses affect our perception of flavor.

I was lecturing as usual, and as usual, I was starting to get excited about the subject material.

“I was just reading a book about the senses called See What I’m Saying. It’s a fantastic book, by the way,” I told them. “And in this book, the author describes a psychological experiment in which…”

As my eyes swept over my class of 25 students, I realized that I had lost them.

They think I’m crazy.

How can I find descriptions of psychological experiments interesting? How can I enjoy the science behind cooking? How can I get so excited about food and nutrition and families and…

Few of them understand the thirst for knowledge, the relentless desire to know why and how and how to change things. They are in school because they don’t know what else to do. They have few driving passions.

They don’t understand me.

My students have generally been polite and respectful–but our interactions make clear that the majority don’t get it.

They do what it takes to get a grade from that crazy-enthusiastic, crazy-tough TA–but they don’t understand why I am the way I am.

But in every class, there are a few students who agree that I’m crazy, but make it their mission to dig a bit deeper. They listen intently, not just to get a grade, but to figure out why I find this so exciting. They start to ask questions, start to search out answers, start to find it exciting too.

This is why I love teaching.

Lecturing dead-eyed classrooms that couldn’t care less can be frustrating. Hearing half a dozen lame excuses as to why homework can’t be handed in on time can be draining. Dealing with students who can’t understand why they don’t automatically get As in my class can be exasperating.

Being considered crazy starts to get old.

But then one student looks a little deeper, discovers crazy can be good, and starts to go crazy for knowledge herself.

This is why I teach.

‘Cause the world needs more crazies.

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Reader Comments (2):

  1. Nancy says:

    check out today about the cinnamon rolls, and the love which went into each batch. Is this what you are talking about when you say “sensory analysis”?
    I know love isn’t sensory, but I wonder if it affects our senses.

  2. bekahcubed says:

    I think you’re probably right, Nancy. Love isn’t sensory, but it definitely does affect our senses. When we know that someone has worked hard to prepare something for us, we’re more likely to perceive its flavor as being good than if we had, say, learned that it was bought from a store. It’s amazing how each of our senses, in addition to our moods and setting, impact the flavor of food!

    This is also one of the reasons why I like the idea of setting a nice table and having the whole family sit around it to eat. We enjoy our food much more when we’re in a relaxed environment rather than in front of a tv or in the car–and this extra enjoyment of the meal often helps us better pay attention to our hunger and fullness cues as well.

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