Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed 7/31/2002 6:23 PM
Random Thought: "Souffe-ish" Teaching

I was talking with my youngest son, Robby, today. He is a sous chef, an artist with food. I was telling him about a discussion on the internet during which one professor called the likes of my non-traditional approach to learning as "souffle teaching" and used the same term to describe community colleges.

Robby smiled. "He didn't mean as a compliment, did he."

"No. You know a lot of people think that when you teach differently from the traditional lecture/note taking/controlled discussion/exam/research paper you automatically lessen and weaken and lower and dumb down and water down and....

"Well, it's true," he interrupted. "You are a teacher whose class is a 'souffle.'"

I looked at him with a ungrateful and silent "Gee, thanks."

Then, he continued as he sheepishly smirked with a "gotcha" smile.

"That professor complimented you and didn't know it. The laugh's on him. Tell him that very few people can make a real delicious souffle. And when they do, it is some treat. It's one of the hardest dishes to make. It's not something you slap together. It takes years to get good at it and you have to work hard at getting it. It takes a certain technique that's not easy to learn and master. It involves a lot of tricky steps. And, the timing of each step is critical. When it's done right, there's very little to match it. Remember, dad, a souffle is not fluffy. It has to have a delicate and soothing firmness. And, you need a gourmet chef, not just any cook to get that."

So, next time anyone describes what you do or you school as souffle, just remember what Robby said and simply reply with a gracious smile, "Thanks. I appreciate that."

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
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                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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