Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You're Laborers; you should be laboring.

I'm smart, and I'm not going to apologize for it.

I spent years working though all the psychological baggage that led me to believe this was a bad thing and I know that, in fact, it's a damn good thing. It's not that I am a prodigy of any sort. I'm not a wizard or some superhuman thingamabob. Just good and smart. And yes, I have an education.

You would think this would make my life easier.

Instead I chose to work in an industry that has a highly skeptical if not cynical view of the value of classwork. And why shouldn't they? They have earned their education in a very real and practical sense - apprentices were around long before the idea of a professor - and have all seen some of the lesser examples of education without practical knowledge. And it is not simply my job that has this viewpoint. Some of the best chefs out there scoff at the skills of the culinary school graduate.

I am very conscious of not waving my brains about at work. In particular, my immediate supervisor is not educated and is very sensitive about it. I have actually had to ask him to stop dismissing the skills of the instructors at my school because of things he felt I should know. I have never corrected his science when it is flat out wrong, because he is not the kind to respond to that well. I am tolerant that when asked what six times nine is, someone is going to check my math on a calculator. But dammit, I AM going to say something about that butter cookie they want to send as a lactose intolerant dessert. And it is really hard to not react strongly when the response is "So? Only milk has lactose."

I had great teachers in culinary school. Intelligent individuals who were perfectly comfortable with letting me know how much I wouldn't know when I got that piece of paper, even while they fed my brain. They encouraged me to get out there while going to classes to see what is really like, and I did. They understood, and helped me to understand, that what I was getting from them was a vocabulary. They gave me the freedom to fail. That freedom gave me confidence to try again, and try different, and question how and why and what. To learn. To be educated.

Is it any wonder that of all the options available to me for the long term, I want to be like those that valued my brain, challenged me even while letting me know that I was working in an idealized, sheltered environment? Could you blame me for wanting nothing more for the immediate future than a chef that is, if not as smart as I am, cognizant of what to do with someone who is smart?

1 comment:

ThePooh said...

I like the Real Genius ref. :)

Sounds like you should teach at culinary school. *runs and hides*