When I started my project, Becoming a Balabusta, my plan was to try one new Eastern European Jewish recipe every week to engage in my own adult education and community development through online educational tools like blogs, book marking sites and videos; as well as other more conventional tools for cooking such as recipe books and family recipes. At the end of this process I decided to add one more element, which was to culminate the whole experience with cooking a full Sabbath dinner for my parents.
In the Jewish religion, Sabbath is the day of rest. Traditionally the family comes together on the eve of Sabbath to share in meal time, discussion, and rest. It offers the opportunity to contemplate and spend time with family. I took this opportunity, Sabbath dinner, to discuss the experience of Becoming a Balabusta with my family, and to engage in a discussion of how this experience of learning using the internet is relevant in adult education and community development. Here are some of the thoughts that were shared during this discussion….
We discussed how cooking can be a central vehicle for teaching and learning. Throughout my own culinary experiences, whether cooking for myself with my mom and sisters for holidays, or just for fun, I have always viewed cooking as linked to social understandings of food history and understanding of nutrition; the preparation of food connects us to world and our histories and creates social identities. Cooking and eating together is not only an educational tool, but also influential in teaching us how to cooperate with and engage in our communities. We are linked by what is on our plates, where it came from, how it was made, served and eaten. Here learning happens through doing; through the traditions of study, preparation, and consuming food.
We also chatted about the pedagogical potentialities of social media. Social media, removed from the formal environment of the classroom, can create more opportunities to learn and engage. I believe in the importance of multiple means of knowledge production. Social media is an abundant means of sharing, clicking and learning. The internet has given us a different set of tools and ideas about cooking that did not exist before. Some of these things are a little unconventional, while others make our lives in the kitchen happier and easier as a result.
When I look back at my learning objective for this project, the first objective was to gain a better understanding of how community can be created through the internet. The internet instantly connected me to communities of cooks and bakers, and with this their resources; it allowed me to use social media to freely explore ideas. The internet opened up possibilities for sharing of knowledges, inspiring dialogue and mutual learning. Another learning objective was to learn which instructional method I learn best from, in person guidance, written guidance, and/or online guidance. I really enjoyed using the internet tools the best. I found that having videos to guide me through the process provided me with useful visuals. I also found the book marking sites and blogs useful, because not only did they link me to additional sources, but also linked me to other users comments which provided me with a greater understanding and tips of what did and did not work with the recipes. However, for this same reason, having my mother there with me and having in person guidance through some of these recipes provided me with extra insight into the histories behind these food, as well as lived experiences and stories to go along with the recipes. So, I found having her presence gave me a greater connection to my community. All in all, I found that engaging in a combination of both different online resources AND in person guidance provided me with the best learning experience.