Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Utilising Language to Enhance the Sensory Appreciation of Food by Year 9 Food Specialisation Students

Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Utilising Language to Enhance the Sensory Appreciation of Food by Year 9 Food Specialisation Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

It is very possible that young adolescents entering junior secondary school in Queensland are not familiar with food preparation, as in cooking a dish for a specific purpose, following instructions in a recipe. However, despite lack of familiarity with preparing and presenting food, young adolescents are regular consumers of food in both the home and external contexts, such as restaurants or fast food outlets.

It is unlikely that the process of consuming food necessarily causes full consciousness or appreciation of the effect of good cooking techniques on the quality of the food consumed. In particular, adolescent consumers tend to lack awareness of the sensory aspects of food preparation and presentation, such as texture, odour, temperature, flavour, colour and appearance.

The reader might ask what these aspects of food, or cooking, have to do with literacy or literacies in the Year 9 classroom. The purpose of this paper is to detail how explicit use of descriptive language in a Food Specialisation course at Craigslea State High School enhanced students' knowledge and understanding of food preparation, as well as their ability to evaluate the impact of food presentation on the consumer.

The focus on using language to describe what was seen, smelt, tasted or touched resulted in improved writing of subject-specific texts--of the kind Britton (1962) described as representing 'the moulding of technical material into the proper language and structure for clear communication'(p. 5)--as well as high quality preparation and presentation of food. The teacher tested her belief that the conscious application of descriptive language would lead to a full awareness of the sensory qualities of food and a readiness to address the sensory needs of the food consumer.

The approach was an appropriate Year 9 response to Content Descriptor ACTDEK045 in the F-10 Technologies syllabus (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2016; Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, 2016) that students develop knowledge and understanding of how sensory perceptions impact on the creation of food solutions.

Investigate and make judgements on how the principles of food safety, preservation, preparation, presentation and sensory perceptions influence the creation of food solutions for healthy eating. (ACTDEK045)

Her belief was based on the relationship perceived between relevant theory and her classroom practices, as detailed in the next section of this paper. This is followed by a description of the details of the sequenced classroom learning experiences developed in the classroom to achieve the outcomes, followed by a conclusion.

The relationship between relevant theory and classroom practice

It would be expected that a teacher working in a classroom kitchen context would be immersing students in language about food. However, a deliberate emphasis on the connection between language and kinaesthetic appreciation of food is a strategic and constructivist approach that has theoretical support (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002; Parsons & Ward, 2011). Further, explicit instructions and focused discussions when coupled with meaningful experiences, represent effective learning (Parsons & Ward, 2011, p. 464).

The teacher at this school challenged herself to validate these theories within a one semester introduction to what would be a Years 10, 11 or 12 study of nutrition. The short time frame meant that, in each lesson, key vocabulary, statements and description were introduced and matched to sensory concepts relevant to the dish design, planning and preparation prior to cooking. It was an approach representing learning by accretion, one well suited to authentic disciplinary experiences (Conley, 2008; Rekrut, 1996). Two aspects of the theory underpinning the teacher's approach will be explored briefly here: the first is the role of discipline literacies or ways of knowing evident in the classroom practices; the second--and perhaps more dominant aspect--is the nature of the relationship between the language of description and a consciousness of sensory concepts underpinning food preparation and consumption. …

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