How do you learn to cook?


I recently attended the ECIS (Educational Collaborative for International Schools) Educators Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, with the theme, Cultivating Curiosity.


The theme of cultivating curiosity reminded me of one of ISP‘s (International School of Prague) strategic goals,

Curiosity drives what and how we learn.” 

It is through curiosity and personal relevance (another ISP strategy!), that all students, young and old, will be deeply engaged in the learning process. For students to take their own personal paths to learning in school, teachers must create rich environments and multiple learning paths to encourage and nurture curiosity.

The first keynote speaker at the ECIS conference, Dr. William Rankin, highlighted the paradigm shift schools need to make: From teaching and learning as a linear activity, to contextualizing learning within an ecosystem.

Bill Rankin
“Dr William Rankin is a speaker and independent consultant focusing on the impact of emerging educational technologies.”

In his talk, Rankin pointed out that the more educators and schools try to reduce information into easily “manageable” and discrete chunks, the more we actually reduce engagement, because this “goes against the way our brains were formed to work.” Rankin argues that learning requires an ecosystem, which similar to the world of nature, is Diverse, Relational, Balanced, Torsional, Dynamic and Substantial. Such a learning ecosystem is where relevance serves as a catalyst to stimulate curiosity and engagement.

Learning Ecosystems - Rankin
Learning Ecosystems – Rankin

To illustrate how the lack of relevance can be a mind-numbing experience, Rankin demonstrates how not to teach cooking. Each week the class is informed that they will learn about a different cooking tool: Week one is spoons; week two is knives; week three is pots and pans etc. By the end of the semester students don’t have the time to actually cook. Rankin asks his audience, “How many of you have been in that course?” Sadly, many hands are raised.

So “How do you learn to cook?” Rankin asks, “By cooking! You learn all that information, not first but while you are doing it.”

In the school of the future?

“Always cook from day 1!”



  1. Hi Arnie,

    Thanks for sharing what you learned at the conference and the keynote from Bill Rankin. Thought-provoking! In South Australia at a school where Kelvin and I used to teach, Prince Alfred College, there is a great program called EduCook and the students cook from day one! There is an equally inspiring program involving design technology called EduKart where students build a motorized kart (in pairs or triads) from Day 1 and drive it when it’s completed and safety checks are done. Both programs stimulate curiosity and I have observed, year after year, high levels of engagement.

    Jo Fahey
    Adelaide, South Australia


  2. Hey Arnie,

    I agree. Our education systems everywhere need to incorporate more curiosity-driven learning into the curriculum. It looks like ISP is taking the right steps to ensure their student body is developing the 21st century skills they’ll need in the future. I would be interested to read how your teachers collaborate with each other and the ISP community to incorporate these kinds of (seemingly interdisciplinary from your other posts I’ve read) projects to drive the curriculum.

    Danielle Martin


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.