Last night I went with the lovely girls I teach with to a Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Foundation professional development night on the Mornington Peninsula. Now if truth be told, often the professional development courses teachers go to are pretty darn boring… but this one was AMAZING! And it wasn’t just because of the cheese and wine provided…. I swear!
I do love Stephanie Alexander and so it’s not surprising that I loved every second of the night. We were a bit like groupies… getting our photo taken with her, cookbooks signed (I forgot mine!) and telling her about how when I was little I used to handwrite out the recipes from her cookbook (hehe I hope I didn’t weird her out with that little piece of information!). Actually, we weren’t the worst groupies there. We were definitely pipped at the weirdness post by a lady who went up and told Stephanie that she had named her daughter ‘Stephanie Alexandra’ after her…hmmmm!
Anyway, Stephanie was just so incredible to listen to. In fact I could have listened to her all day. She is so passionate about improving the health of children by getting them involved in the growing, cooking and eating of good food. What an inspiring person! I think that considering we live in a day and age where everything is prepackaged and full of lordy-knows-what, actually getting kids planting vegetables and cooking with real food is a bit of a revolution! I especially loved how she talked about the importance of having kids sitting round a table together, eating and talking about the food they have cooked. What a good lesson for everyone (yes, I admit that my meals are often eaten on the couch in front of the TV…. but I do much prefer sitting around a table with friends and family having a laugh and a chat!).
Stephanie spoke to us about the work of her foundation. Seriously what she is achieving in schools is just incredible. Her program really seems to bring together the whole community, including parents, grandparents, green thumb gardeners and foodies alike! The foundation has some pretty huge goals in terms of rolling out their program to a greater number of schools and getting more and more kids involved in gardening and cooking. Having listened to her speak though, I have no doubt Stephanie’s foundation will continue to go from strength to strength as it really is based on such a wonderful premise, which is to improve the health of children.
For us teachers (and all of the parents too), we love how the program relates to the curriculum and what we need to teach kids. Lifelong learning begins with real life and relevant learning opportunities and her program suits this to a tee. For a basic example, it’s pretty obvious that kids are going to understand fractions a lot better when they are continually using measuring cups when cooking. Same goes with teaching about procedural texts… recipes are a perfect example of a procedural text. And of course we can’t forget the zillions of important science and sustainability concepts that the kids are being exposed to through gardening and cooking.
Gosh it was such a great night. I learnt so much and came away super inspired and bursting with ideas. How great to know that a much loved and influential person in the foodie industry is making such a difference to kids lives!
If you want to find out more about Stephanie’s brilliant work, check out her website: