Have you seen Chef’s Table on Netflix… Ugly Delicious… Salt, Fat, Acid & Heat.... Mind of a Chef… Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown… The Great British Baking Show? Shows about cooking and food are only getting sexier. Not sexy in the sense of more skin or romance; sexy in the sense of dramatic music paired with crackling fires in the crisp air of Patagonia; or a magical plant dropped into a wicker basket filled with water and as the music builds the plant extends and grows into a gorgeous flower that someone then eats and smiles with a look of tranquil satisfaction. I am talking about magic and cinematography and food kind of sexy. I mean, I'm writing this and dreaming about cooking, and eating, and watching Netflix (they got me hooked) kind of sexy. Like that pig was actually raised grazing in the woods then butchered and smoked 24 hours! Those chickens only eat red peppers so their yolks are red! Or this miso was fermented for how many years! - kind of sexy.
Sadly, I watch too much t.v. about cooking because I could go on for pages.
Recently, a colleague, and a good teacher, left the teaching profession to become a chef. This isn't the first time I've seen this jump. In fact, I've known several teachers who've made the transition into the restaurant business. And I'm sure it helps that both professions correlate with higher drinking rates, but I rarely see the reverse trend: cooks becoming teachers. And when I watch shows about food versus shows about education - it's hard to argue for education as a profession.
I actually couldn't come up with a single tv show about teaching for this piece off the top of my head… luckily Google is always around. According to IMDB a fair number of the current top 10 tv shows about teaching were made in the 50's, 60’ & 70's, several more were mockumentaries disparaging teachers, and one of the more popular modern shows was Glee. Given this data I think it's fair to say the media's depiction of teaching does not make the field look sexy. And sure maybe it is just another example of how the media tends to favor men, as cooking is male dominated while teaching is female dominated, but what if...
What if there were shows about teaching that actually focused on the most inspirational and innovative aspects of education with dramatic music & cinematography like Chef’s Table. What if there were shows about how interconnected education and class and race are - presented in a fun, light-hearted, mouth watering way like Ugly Delicious. What if there were shows that infused the joys of good drama and interdependence in a collaborative competition like The Great British Baking Show?
Teaching is sexy. Or rather can be. It can also be grueling and heartbreaking and heartwarming and hilarious and inspirational and beautiful just like cooking. Imagine a Teachers Table episode featuring Cornel West's or bell hook’s life story, or an Ugly Education episode tying cooperative learning pedagogy to desegregation in America and examining current global connections. Imagine an Education Parts Unknown episode where the charismatic host travels around the world examining educational practices along with counter narratives and truth telling. And imagine these shows done with a high budget, aesthetic, musical score and positivity…
Does teaching start to look sexy? Do we get an influx of new incredible talent into the field? Do politicians change educational policy to truly support teacher and student growth regardless of race or class? Does it start a cascading effect where truth telling and great teaching are synonyms and ubiquitous leading to a generation eyes open to the ‘imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchal mass media’ (hooks) that turns around and deconstructs to reconstruct the system for liberation that got the ball rolling unwittingly in the first place? Maybe. But we won't know until we move passed our imagination and make teaching sexy in the media.