Tuesday, November 14, 2006

F**k the IT! Where’s the passion?
As Gordon Ramsay returns to Channel 4 this evening with arguably his best TV format to date - `Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ - I can just imagine him getting worked up over a computer education project underway at Lewisham College’s `interactive kitchen theatre’. “An interactive what? For F**k’s sake, I don’t f**king believe it”, would probably be his reply.

Just over a week ago, it was reported that an `eKitchen’ at the college is being used to teach cooking. Cameras zoom in on dishes being prepared while the images are relayed to flat screen monitors on each student’s desk. Footage can then be recorded and edited into `e-learning chunks’ says Robin Ghurbhurun Lewisham College's director of e-learning. These `chunks’ can be accessed later on DVD or online over the web. Ghurbhurun explained: "There is an expectation from the students coming through - they are living in a digital world with YouTube and MySpace and iPods and Xboxes and the last thing they want to do is walk into a classroom that looks like it's from the 18th century." The college seems to think that the technology had something to do with a number of its students – including some from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen foundation – getting good NVQ1 results. The college is so taken up with the concept that it will be used for…wait for it… beauty and construction students.

It seems to me that these `progressive’ ways of teaching have not necessarily been a good thing overall. Take the wealth of cooking shows on TV, not to mention the recipe books they spawn. Although popular in terms of sales, they have not made the requisite jump to changing behaviour: A survey earlier this year said that while there are 171 million cookbooks in the nation's homes, 61 million remain unopened and on the shelves. Apparently, the average Briton makes a mere 35 of the 1,000 recipes they have in the home. That’s a lot of wasted trees. What makes Gordon Ramsay so riveting to watch is his no-nonsense and fully hands-on energy. He’s old school in his temperament, and utterly demanding of those under his tutelage. You either allow him to break you down and rebuild you up into a fine, hardworking chef and/or restaurateur. Or you stay broken and quit. I guess if you can’t stand the heat…And what’s Lewisham College’s dig at 18th century classrooms all about? See my next post.

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