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Baking adventure in school

Posted by Lakshmi

I recently undertook to teach a bunch of 30 school kids who had just finished their Standard 6 exams, on the intricacies of baking cookies. As the exams were over and there were no specific lessons being conducted, I had volunteered myself to conduct the baking class at a small and quaint Tamil school in Batu Tiga (SRJK Ladang Ebor)I also roped in my son, Arvind, to entertain the Standard 1 and 2 children with his violin.. I thought he should start somewhere too....

My first impression of the school,( actually my first visit to a Tamil school, unbelievable, but true)was its size! SMALL , very small by mainstream national schools standards, but very very clean and very well maintained. Lots of potted plants everywhere, a small but well manicured field, a water fountain courtesy of some generous parents' contribution and an equally small canteen of Lilliputan size. The classrooms, were of course, you guessed it, small ... The distinct feeling of being in a 60's time zone was evident.Worn out wooden desks and chairs, mismatched stools donated by caring individuals, shoes neatly arranged outside the library ( imagine that!)and the icing on the cake, no screams and shrieks from students and teachers alike. In fact, the clean surroundings, the crisp cool air and the quietness of the surrounding took me by surprise! Ha, this is not the case in my kid's national school environment... everytime I leave my son at his school, I can hear the high pitch shrieks of the principal/ teachers admonishing the students , over the loudspeaker/PA system, no less, all the way to the main road !.
Curiosity got the better of me and upon further enquiries from the HM about the school's size ( naturally!), it was made known that as the school was not situated on government land,only the administrative salaries came under the Education Ministry's purview while funding for the school was left entirely to the PTA and private donors, hence the corresponding size.... Sad, isn't it? Despite our 50 years of independence as a multi-national nation, we're still under such archaic and lopsided rules in education for our country's best asset, the young children.

Obviously, I volunteered to buy all the baking stuff of flour, sugar, butter, rolled oats, nuts, raisins, eggs and peanut butter for my baking do. Brought along my baking trays, whisk, bowls and my portable oven too. I then proceeded to divide the kids in two groups and gave each group the measured ingredients to mix it themselves. I wanted a 'hands on' approach by the students instead of a lone ranger demo . Some of the boys had the ' I'm the man and I don't do kitchen work' attitude ( sigh, typical male 'mental' syndrome, ) Had great fun bringing them down a peg or two, how? I made them clean up the mess . Served them right, I say! Everyone was given a chance to mix and shape the dough and from their squeals, chatter and laughter, I knew they had fun . Baking was a bit slow as I only had one oven running but the smell of the baking cookies was wafting in the air as some of the teachers found their way to my class to 'help'.

I managed to finish the class by noon and having distributed the cookies to the students and giving them the recipe to try it at home, I packed up all my stuff, dumped them into my car in the ensuing rain and headed straight home to cook lunch for my dear husband and kids..

Despite being caught in the heavy rain and feeling cold with water dripping over our heads, my heart was lighter and an indescribable feeling of happiness enveloped me. I dare say, it was for my son too.

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