Monday, June 1, 2009

All Chocolate Chip Cookies are not the same!

I made some awesome chocolate chip cookies last week. The recipe called for roasting pecans for 10-15 minutes, then putting a bit of butter and salt on them, then grinding them up in a food processor and using this mix to replace some of the flour.

I used real butter, real vanilla, farm fresh eggs, real dark chocolate chunks and mixed the batter oh so gingerly so the cookies would be a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy. I scooped out rounded masses of the buttery mix, baked them on parchment paper for exactly 12 minutes and slid them on to waiting cookie racks. Can you see the delicately browned cookies? Can you smell the buttery, nutty chocolatey morsels? They are crisp on the outside and gooey and rich in the inside. Oh, my...heaven in my mouth. [recipe here]
Now, contrast that with a bag of Chips-Ahoy. I mean, they are both cookies, they both have chocolate chips, they both are round--but what exactly is partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and artificial flavoring? They are not gooey, they are do not melt in your mouth, but in a pinch they will do and when you have a hankering for a cookie, they are not too bad.

So, when I was thinking about cookies, it made me think of curriculum. When you teach your kids by reading them great literature and exposing them to ideas and thoughts contained in literature, it is like the homemade chocolate chip cookie. It is pleasing and satisfying. Kids want more--they want to dig deeper, they enjoy the experience and learn an incredible amount as they go along. Learning through literature appeals to old and young, rich and poor, eager learners and slower learners. We can learn so much through stories--we can be transported across time and space and can experience more than we could possibly experience in our own lifetime. It is rewarding and satisfying.

But, when you learn through text books, it is kind of like a store-bought cookie. It is kind of the same--but it is not really the same at all. Textbooks take a bunch of great history or science and pre-digest it in a sort of "readers-digest" format so you get the gist, but none of the passion. Incredible events such as the explosion of the space shuttle are brieffly covered, a date given, and then the article ends with something like "but even though this launch was not successful, the space program learned from their mistakes so future launches were much safer."

UGH! Where is the passion? Where is the mourning? What is the point of the event? It leaves one wondering why they bothered to even read this book and how many pages more are assigned. Kind of like wondering why you are wasting your calories on a Chips Ahoy, when you could eat a Mrs. Fields cookie. There is just no flavor, no satisfaction-- no character at all to the cookie or the text.

Whether you are homeschooling or your kids are in a traditional school--please read to them. Read them books with passion and excitement. Introduce your kids to your heroes or read classic literature to them. If you don't know where to start, ask me, ask your librarian, ask an English teacher or get a Sonlight catalog and use it for a reading list. Use this summer to ignite your child's interest and imagination and to strengthen family bonds and have true quality and quantity time with them. Read to them and maybe whip up a batch of cookies too! It couldn't hurt!

Take care,

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies.


  1. about reading a great book while eating the perfect chocolate chip cookie?! Thank sounds like the perfect combination to me!

    Using the topic/era that they are studying, if using a textbook, and supplement with a literature on that topic! Integrate the curriculum with some great literature and whala! Your student will find a "place in time" that they cannot get enough of and isn't that what learning is all about?

  2. My wife said she was going to make chocolate chip cookies today... I hope she does because you just inspired me [smile].

    And, yes, there is something very sumptuous about homeschooling.