Our food curriculum

Food — making it, sharing it, experimenting with it — is at the heart of what humans do. Cooking defines us as a species. And yet, culturally, we've lost the need to cook: we live in a Candy Land where food is provided to us for cheap! But food is one of our richest links to the world. Food is chemistry, biology, culture, history, and community. By reclaiming food creation, and by putting it into the center of every school day, we can make our curriculum more vibrantly intellectual, and knit together a more healthy community.

What we'll do Every day, and beginning in the earliest grades, our community will make lunch together. We'll make delicious, healthy food.

We'll begin simply, slicing vegetables for fresh soups and kneading dough for fresh breads. As students master basic skills (slicing, browning, straining, waiting), we can move gradually to more complex dishes: chilis, chowders, stews, pastas, stir-frys, and so on. Gradually, we hope, all of our fifth graders will be able to cook more creatively than most college students.

As kids get older than that, we can start doing some really fun things!

Paradigm-changing chef Alice Waters wrote: Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education.

Why are we doing this?

If we were just making food to eat, and to strengthen community, that might be enough.

But we won't just be making food to eat — we'll be making it to learn! At the center of our school will be a general practice of posing questions: students, bamboozled by the complexity of the world, pose and debate honest questions. There may be no better launching pad for these questions than food.

Students can ask questions about the science of food:

Why do vegetables soften when you steam them? Why does tofu brown when you fry it? Why does milk clot into butter when you shake it? Why does dough rise? Why do cucumbers pickle? Why does dough rise?

They can ask questions about food's human connection:

What is this? Who invented this? Where does this come from?

We'll be embracing culinary diversity. We'll make bisque, egg drop soup, goulash, lentil stews, miso, and pho. We'll make challah, injera, baguettes, naan, and tortillas!

Every dish has a story, and a crucial place in the big history of humanity.

Food, then, is at the heart of what our new kind of school hopes to do.

You might also be interested in: Our question-posing curriculum, our science curriculum, our human cultures curriculum.

Brandon Hendrickson

Seattle, WA