Food is for Eating, not Wasting!
(A personal Reflection on Evaluating Impacts on My Professional Practice)
Like many other teachers, when I was working as a teacher in an International Preschool I enjoyed creating activities where children exposed with many different kind of things to simulate their hand coordination, sensory and motor trough art, craft and hands-on activities.
There were so many resources provided to support the children’s activities in this area. There were the abundance of resources such as colorful shiny beads, sequins, glitters, pompoms, feathers, papers with the different shapes and texture, wonderful stickers, paints, chalk to do the different activities in the art and craft. There were the macaroni, pasta, rice, and the variety of dried bean to make necklaces and collages as well as the different fresh fruits for the children to make stamp with the paint.
Truly speaking, I felt nervous for the first time I encountered with my experience to use food as the learning resources. Coming from a developing, third country such as Indonesia, even though I was growing in a family that could give me enough food every day, the life outside was surrounded with the poverty in many corners of my environment. Therefore, I was raised in the family and community that really valued and respects the culture that food is very precious in this world that lack of food.
I thought maybe I am the only teacher who has the thought and feeling of objection about food as the learning material particularly if I feel the food would end up wasted. However, I kept on doing my job as a teacher in the learning activities using all of the food as the ‘new’ resources for me, and keep the contradiction silently deep in my heart-not to mention that at that time I was not brave enough to discuss it with my colleagues from different countries than mine.
Knowing the bigger fact that there is food waste everywhere in the world -roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tones are lost or wasted (Global Food Losses and Food Waste – FAO, 2011) is another reason behind my ‘guilty’ feeling. Food as the learning resources should not end up wasted.
Having involving with the anti-bias education principles, I realize that I can offer many perspectives to the children at home and in my class as well as my colleagues about the respect for the food as part of the anti-bias learning in the class, and still support the sensory learning in the class. I would have the empathy and became more considerate to use the learning resources if someday I have to work in different places in the world.
Maybe next time I can offer my students or my own children a different activity-still using the food as the learning resources-in the cooking activities for example. The children can use the ingredients to give them the experience of sensory and fine motor activities, but after that the children could transform the ingredients into a wonderful food they love in their cooking activities…. Therefore, there will be no more food wasted in a bin except ‘wasted’ in the ‘little chef’s’ tummy!
Brunei Darussalam, October 2013
Global Food Losses and Food Waste – FAO, 2011
The environmental crisis: The environment’s role in averting future food crisis – UNEP, 2009
Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/wed/quickfacts/
P.S: I am really happy when my mentor, Dr. Nanette Schonleber give the comment to my writing as below:
“I had that experience in Hawaii where a lot of the cultures there…including the Native Hawaiians do not agree with the idea of using food for anything but eating. They feel that it is disrespectful. Most of the preschools in Hawaii for that reason did not use food products such as rice or macaroni for art projects. Food was only for eating and eating was meant to be a sacred act. Thank you for sharing. To not use food products in a culture where food is precious is an act of respect so I encourage you to find the courage to say something if this happens again. With your gift for diplomacy I am sure you could figure a way to say it gracefully!”
Thank you always for your great encouragement as always, Dr. Sheri!