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Rationale for Teaching
Middle schooling (grades 6-9) is a crucial time in the lives of the young people that I teach (Main & Pendergast 2017, p. 47-48), there is a lot going on at the same time as their education. Students go through a wealth of physical, psychosocial, emotional and cognitive changes (puberty), that is only matched by the development that occurs in the first two years of life (Pendergast 2017, p. 4). During this period, my students will form values and dispositions that will direct their attitudes and behaviours through to adulthood and into the future (Main & Pendergast 2017, p. 47-48).
The students that I encounter within a middle school context are complex, unique and diverse individuals, each having learning and personal needs that needs meeting. They are adolescents and are going through the journey of adolescence (Main 2017), Meaning they are still developing. Diversity in gender, culture and ability are seen and I acknowledge that this is where the one size fits all approach, does not work. I feel that using this type of approach in the classroom only leads to student disengagement. Pendergast (2017), notes that disengagement in many cases is a product of not meeting these desired learning needs. Learning needs are to be met for the students to be successful and include how they learn and learning difficulties they possess. All students have the right to success through both a meaningful and differentiated curriculum and it is my role as teacher to facilitate this to provide equity in opportunity for student success. I need to differentiate student needs to cater for all in my class (Main 2017, p.97).
When my students enter the middle school years of their education journey, there is an apparent focus on subject matter, rather than the student-learner as seen in primary school (Pendergast 2017, p. 7). The way that we expect students to learn changes and at this time there are increased expectations, new relationships and academic diversity are experienced (students at different levels of knowledge and ability in all subjects).
Middle school reform is a response to claims that the middle years of young people’s learning either slows down, stops or even seems to go backwards (termed disengagement), at a time when learning should be progressing (Stringer 1998, p. 6 as cited in Chadbourne & Pendergast 2005). The middle school reform is the transition period for young people moving from primary school to high school (Chadbourne & Pendergast 2005). This reform is necessary due to unfamiliar structure, forming new relationships, different focus of learning and unique learning needs (Chadbourne & Pendergast 2005. It seeks to address students’ learning in a way that meets their complex, unique and diverse learning and personal needs in a meaningful, relevant way. Thus, enabling students to feel safe, wanted and included in their learning environments. Motivation and engagement are important, this is why a specific meaningful curriculum presented using a middle school approach is needed to build students in preparation for success for themselves and the world.
How can a home cook in the northern suburbs of Adelaide plan, prepare and serve nutritious and high-quality dinners at home whilst being food savvy, safe and hygienic in the kitchen?
In the northern suburbs of Adelaide there are 4643 one parent families. This contributes to the varying age of home cooks, as it might be children or youth cooking for each other, themselves or families. One parent families could have lower incomes than those of two parent families, meaning they may not be able to afford to feed their families. 66.8% of one parent families with dependent children had an income of less than $800 per week, while only 6.1% had an income of $1,400 or more per week. In contrast, 42.2% of couple families with dependent children had a weekly income of $1,400 or more. Along with this, youth and children may lack the time, the skills, techniques, knowledge and understanding of nutrition, hygiene and safety procedures, thus affecting the quality and nutritional levels of the meal. This is why learning to cook is important. Learning to cook gives a person the skills, techniques and knowledge to prepare dishes within the home kitchen. It is essentially a skill used for survival and over time a cook’s level of knowledge and skills will develop and their confidence will increase to enable the tackling of complex skills, techniques and production of more difficult meals.
Click below to read the full report that I wrote back in 2013 as part of Stage 2 Research Project B, this is the Project Outcome:
Damien Walker is currently studying a Bachelor of Education, Food and Textiles Technologies at University of South Australia. This is him engaging with readings and questions throughout his teaching journey to gain professional insight and knowledge.