From school to work: How the Restaurant School in Philadelphia prepares its students for the world of kitchen work through its classroom practices and the student apprenticeship program

John J Buckley, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This research looked at how students learned to become cooks through different kinds of classroom practice and through apprenticeships in restaurant and hotel kitchens. The methods used were non-participant observation of the different classroom practices in the school for about one year and participant observation in the form of an apprenticeship at a hotel restaurant kitchen in the city for about 15 months. Interviewing was also done in both the classroom and workplace settings. Both video and 35mm cameras were used to aid in the research. The results of the investigation show that students at the school felt that “hands-on” kinds of classroom practice taught them more about cooking and prepared them better for the workplace. The results also showed that instructors in the “hands-on” classes need to be more sensitive to the nuances of the “scaffolding” process when interacting with students of varying abilities With regards to apprenticeship, it was found that the most rewarding apprenticeships were those where there was good feedback given to the apprentice, where s/he experienced a variety of task assignments, from simple and easy to complex and difficult, that challenged the apprentice during the training period, where they got encouragement and feedback often, and received a lot of demonstration of tasks before they were assigned the task. Apprentices did experience the conflict in working kitchens between the need to make a profit on behalf of the owners and the need to train the apprentice in a rounded way. My analysis suggests, that the restaurant school needs to give the student more time in the “hands-on” classrooms, to deepen their skill levels, that the instructors need to better optimize the transfer process, and encourage more reflective and explorative practices; this would enable students to be better prepared for work. Restaurant kitchens need to be more sensitive to the needs of apprentices, and their desire for varied and challenging task assignments. Furthermore, in designing a more effective apprenticeship, mentoring would also be an important component. ^

Subject Area

Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

John J Buckley, "From school to work: How the Restaurant School in Philadelphia prepares its students for the world of kitchen work through its classroom practices and the student apprenticeship program" (January 1, 2002). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3043854.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3043854

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