silent cheese tasting

It has been awhile since we’ve added an entry – but the subject of student drive has been popping up in discussions with teachers and industry professionals lately, particularly as we get further involved with job shadows in restaurants and hotels.  There is a lot of resiliency and activity by students in our classroom – that’s the reason many take the class – they are certainly not lazy.

Then put a student in a real restaurant kitchen, without their friends and familiar environment and these days, more often than not, they freeze up.   It is natural to be shy or nervous, but this can take on a different appearance than the jitters – it can look more like hanging back and waiting.  When most chefs see this, they take it to be a lack of initiative, or even care. What is odd is that we in education are seeing this “hang back” across the board more frequently, whether it is a continuation high school student, a comprehensive high school student, or yes, even college students.  It is not necessarily that young people don’t care, some don’t seem familiar with how to display their care. For others,  I wonder if they are numbed with over receiving information  & more ways to distract oneself in short spurts than ever before.  The problem definitely runs deeper than just learning manners.

Do you remember the first job you loved? That fire in your belly excitement?  Why don’t we see this in our students more? And what steps did we take to get enough under our belts to get into that gear?  How do you teach drive?

I try to remember back to where I got my drive.  Trying out various jobs that seemed like good fits (and often weren’t) but I was able to take away something of value from each one.  Building self value while you are finding your passion in those early jobs is in itself an important part of preparing for what happens after high school (and by the way, many high school students haven’t explored their future in terms of their passions – or can get jobs in today’s economy for that matter).

Still, many students make plans without really gathering information first, because that is what is required of them – a post secondary plan. Like a required worksheet, it gets decided without understanding the spark that should have prompted its formation. Planning your future is not a simple formula, but that is the beauty of it too.  It is not going to have all the answers, but it is all about you, it has value and you need to have a sense of yourself before you can make one.

And that is where active practice comes in.  It doesn’t matter what we are doing, many students are so hungry for activity, seeking that sense of self accomplishment again, they’ll jump into washing dishes.  They recognize that it doesn’t matter what we do (washing dishes, really???) it is that we do it the best we can, step by step, all the way through to the last step of appreciating the results that fuels their drive.   The desire to accomplish starts the drive that builds self value, the appreciation of the results cements that self value.

Maybe our earlier generations had this automatically built into our lifestyles, but that is definitely not so today for many youth.  Most of their activities are now centered around technology, where it may be easy to understand what needs to get done, but harder to feel the accomplishment from doing it.  I don’t think technology can teach drive, no matter how well structured, you have to obtain a tangible sense of self accomplishment before you can build enough self value to have your own drive.