A few months ago, I wrote about the day I made my junior high students eat raw oatmeal.
After being asked, “What did you have for breakfast” by the students nearly every morning and always answering, “I had oatmeal,” it was decided that we would all make oatmeal together during English class.
The students’ only exposure to my sweet breakfast filled with raisins and cinnamon was through a picture I hastily took before scarfing down my breakfast and dashing off to school one morning. Here’s that picture:
It’s not a very flattering photo and it definitely doesn’t give the kids a good impression of my taste in food.
On the day we cooked oatmeal, class was held in the cooking room. We began the same way we always do, by asking the students, “How are you?” The usually response is “I’m happy” or “I’m sleepy,” but this time most of the kids responded, “I’m so-so.”
They were hesitant and nervous about eating their weird foreign teacher’s disgusting breakfast. I laughed and tried to reassure the kids that everything was going to be okay. You’d think I was asking them to do something horrible…I guess to them, eating oatmeal is horrible.
Before we began cooking, I told the kids that it’s okay if they spit out the oatmeal if they don’t like it, I just want them to try to eat it. They all looked at me skeptically, but I reassured them (spitting gesture and sound included) that to me it was completely alright and I wouldn’t be offended. The important thing was to challenge themselves to try something new and unusual (just like speaking English…although it’s harder to get the taste of English out of your mouth :P).
I showed each student the ingredients we would be using to make the oatmeal: Quaker oats (kept in an instant mashed potato can…the kids had a laugh as I prompted them to try and read the English writing), milk, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. I started to make the oatmeal by pouring all of the ingredients directly from their containers into the pot we were going to use to cook the oatmeal in. The kids laughed and said, “Aren’t you going to measure it?” I just smiled and said, “Nope, it’s free-style cooking.” The kids got a kick out of this as well.
After stirring the sticky mess, the kids were getting nervous. It was almost time to eat this nasty food! I looked around, realized that I didn’t prepare any bowls to eat out of and prompted the students to just grab a spoon and dig in (we were free-style cooking, after all). They were shocked at first (they’re not “supposed to” eat directly out of the pot, it’s bad manners), but only took a seconds pause and grabbed a spoonful of oatmeal.
I took the first bite to show them that oatmeal is not poison and the most adventurous of the bunch ate their spoonful first. Relieved that their classmate didn’t die after eating the strange substance, the rest of the students followed.
I was so impressed with the junior high students. Even though oatmeal doesn’t look like anything they have ever eaten and nearly half of them hate the smell of cinnamon, they all tried to eat the oatmeal. To my surprise, all but two liked it. The ones who were able to eat the oatmeal even made a second batch and finished it all. The two who didn’t care for the oatmeal choked it down (one kid looked like he was going to throw up), but they both were very polite about their new found hatred of oatmeal.
I love my students and I am very grateful for their willingness to try a food that I eat almost every day. Even though some of them don’t like raisins, most of them aren’t too keen on eating cinnamon, and all of them have never seen Quaker oats before, every single one of them ate the oatmeal. I feel really lucky to be able to teach such great kids.