Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Twisted pair?

This post is inspired by Steve Wheeler's #twistedpair challenge.

Essentially, it's about finding a link/synergy between two seemingly unrelated things. His post about teaching critical thinking led me to this post.

Earlier, I have written about pedagogy and food. Now I want to connect Heston Blumenthal, the chef, and the research process. His In Search of Perfection (see this example of the series) programmes are a great way to learn about action research. For example:

  1. he starts with a question - how do you make the best UK steak and salad meal? 
  2. he then asks a number of subsidiary questions to get under its skin.
  3. he does some data collection: he asks what people like in a vox pop and then follows up suggestions
  4. he asks experts in the field for their views, practices and protocols.
  5. he experiments with some of these - in the case of the steak, variations in the ageing process -what is the difference in flavour when cooked? 
  6. He then is able to make some decisions about tenderness, flavour, texture, fat and smell and tests them out by experimenting with samples of his own. 
  7. This leads to new knowledge and perhaps new practices.
This whole process is the way deliberate Teaching as Inquiry, a version of action research, can help teachers learn more about themselves, their practices, their wondering, and their learners. As Heston strives to know more by undertaking research into his practices, so teachers can learn from the principles of his method. He learns from things that go wrong (won't do that again) as well as things that are partially helpful or hugely successful. All of the data is potentially useful to add to knowledge. ERO (2012) argue that inquiry is about challenging thinking - it's about examining taken-for-granted practices through an evidence-based process. Heston Blumenthal's cooking investigation process shows how to do it. 

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