Saturday, March 25, 2017

When is Cheese No Longer Cheese?


My love affair for cheese is well documented.  You can see my blog post on my cheese making course experience here.  If I ever go to jail, it will have something to do with transporting hundreds of pounds of cheese hidden in boxes labelled bocce balls.  I have listened to gastropod's history of cheese three times, just in case I missed anything. Although most of the time, I follow a paleo, non cheese food plan, when I travel, I do not limit my cheese intake.

I was shocked when I learned that a product could be called cheese without being cheese.  Parmesan cheese in those bottles can have up to 10% of stuff in it other than cheese. Filler. A while back someone reported that some of that filler was actually sawdust. If you call something a "cheese product" the percentage of "real cheese" is even less.

Here in Mexico, the cheese variety is extensive, fresh, and dam delicious.  Why can't I have this amazing dam delicious selection in Canada I wonder, but perhaps that is a topic for another blog. Most of the time, I opt for artesian or higher quality cheese in order to have a better chance of a full dairy cheese product. I don't have to make that choice as often in Italy, as they are sticklers for authentic.  They rigorously work at ensuring their food quality remains authentic and pure.

What about school?  How much of what we pass off as learning is the 10% filler?  Or worse yet, what are the "cheese products" of schools.  The Velveeta facsimile that only remotely tastes and looks like learning?

I think for many of us, "pure learning" looks like reading, writing and math, especially math.  Literacy and Numeracy.  Hard to argue with that, especially when we are seeing big links between academic success and literacy.  Let's add the holy grail of Science and Technology in there as a given. I'll even throw in History and Geography.

Things get tricky from here. Physical Education?  Fine Arts? Performing Arts? Social Emotional Learning? Meditation??????

The farther learning and schools resemble past practice, the more it can look like "filler". Traditional schools are appealing because they outwardly resemble the good old days where order and control appeared to have the upper hand.

Real cheese will always be about three ingredients: milk, bacteria and salt.  That's it.

Real learning, on the other hand, is a complex mix of culture, politic, brain development and values.  All of those ingredients are moving targets.  They do not remain static, even if there are those who try to claim it does.

Every one of these ingredients is a big conversation, I know.  Different systems work to address all of the complexity in a variety of ways. I just want to get you thinking about this so that we don't make the terrible mistake of thinking our illusions will make our children safe.  Like the illusion of desks in a row with a teacher up in chalk and talk mode.  Or the illusion that great math scores will ensure my child a good job.  Or the illusion that an obedient child is a socially emotionally well developed child.

I am going to let you chew on that while I savour a nice piece of delicious, 100% real cheese.

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