I think that cooking is a really neat way to engage higher order thinking. It is a lot like classroom learning, where cooking a meal is a particular problem, and students must use background knowledge and creative thinking to come up with a product. Cooking is a great way to teach these skills, because kids literally and figuratively have to juggle tons of different foods and knowledge about those foods, measurements, temperatures, etc. I can see how critical and creative thinking can easily be targeted in the math or science classroom using cooking problems.
I was thinking about what to write for my last journal entry this week as I stood in my kitchen looking at all the different produce spread over the counter and in the fridge. Reminder, my friend runs an organic farm on our property, and she drops of produce and herbs constantly in our kitchen. So, in thinking about dinner every night it is that sort of synthesis process where I look at the foods available, search my brain for past recipes or meals I have eaten, and think about how I can combine what I have in front of me with what I know. I must admit, I do use those online recipe builders for help sometimes, where you just enter the ingredients that you have and it spits out a couple of doable recipes. But it does take an awful lot of creativity to go at it on your own. It’s also a bit risky, because one probably has to eat the product. This is similar to education that targets critical and creative thinking because it puts responsibility on the learner to progress to an unknown endpoint, and because it is sometimes uncomfortable.
I think it would be cool to have students come up with and test recipes as a learning process. They would definitely need to pose and answer questions along the way, and reflect on their thinking in terms of divergence and convergence. This would be great for learners with different strengths in terms of their intelligences. I think it could be cool to infuse this as an interdisciplinary project that students could work on in their social studies and science or math classes. That way they could study the social or cultural connections of the foods they are using (like the history of sugar, which is really interesting and touchy) and they could be studying the science behind it! Hmm… I’ll have to think a little more about how this will all play out.