With the new university year looming, newbie students are preparing to leave home. For some of them, it will be first time in their lives that they’ve lived without the support of good old Mum and Dad. But how equipped are they to fend for themselves? Should we all have rushed out and bought Unilever shares before Pot Noodle sales start to soar?
If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know I keep banging on about kids being taught to cook in schools. Yeah, I know… that old chestnut… again! But they’re not. It’s easy to say kids should learn to cook at home, but as we’ve already raised a generation who don’t know one end of a kitchen from a hole in the wall, that doesn’t help. And a recent episode of Today on BBC Radio 4 sums it up.
Enterprising Kumur Ghandi of the Cooking Academy runs cookery classes for freshers. She believes university is a great place to learn to cook. On the other hand, Alice Thompson who writes for the Times, is a staunch supporter of the Pot Noodle school of thought, saying we have to stop over-parenting. Kids have to fly the nest and learn to cope on their own. She said…
‘There’s nothing wrong with doing what we did, which was living on Pot Noodles for a couple of weeks until you learnt that you wanted something more substantial and trying to work things out for yourself.’
Far be it from me to argue with such a pair of well-informed ladies, but quite frankly girls, I don’t know when I’ve ever heard such a load of old codswallop!
University is the time for kids to learn to cook, eh Kumar? Cobblers, but ten out of ten for spotting a great business opportunity. Kids should be taught to cook as soon as they’re old enough to climb on a stool and wear a pinny. Kids LOVE cooking. Yes, they’re going to make a mess but so what? Teach ‘em how to clear up after themselves too! They’re going to have a great time doing it and it’s a darn site cheaper than days out at a commercial play park or trips to MacDonalds.
If you were never taught to cook, what’s wrong with learning together? It’s a good parent-child bonding opportunity and you’ll both learn from the experience. Forget Facebook for five minutes and log into YouTube – you’ll find millions of cookery classes there that won’t cost you a penny.
And I’m sorry Alice, but saying ‘there’s nothing wrong with doing what we did’ makes you sound just like my granny. ‘It never hurt us’ was her battle cry on the subject of everything from the outside privy to liberty bodices. Just because you survived, it doesn’t make it right.
Try looking online at some of the student forums. A common consequence of them working it out for themselves involves fire alarms, fire brigade call-outs and melted microwaves. Not the best start to student life.
Kids are under a lot of pressure when they first start uni without having to learn to cook or even worse, going hungry. Let’s face it, they’re going to spend the first few weeks doing all the things you’ve spent eighteen years telling them not to do. Better they do it on a full stomach, at least!
Of course, the Students’ Unions mustn’t be forgotten and for many they’re a life-saver. They sell awesome food at great value for money prices, and are great environments… or at the least the ones Nina & Co work with are… (shameless plug).
But I digress. Part of Alice Thompson’s criticism was parents have enough to pay for when their little treasures start university life, and cooking classes shouldn’t add to their financial burden. I might get some hate mail over this one, but I believe, like a lot of things, paying for cookery classes is too easy – it’s nothing more than a cop out. Too many people would rather just throw money at their kids’ upbringing and education than actually give up their previous time to get involved with it themselves.
According to the Independent, disasters help bonding between students. And well they might. But I can’t help thinking the youngster who can whip a meal up out of nothing is going to be flattened in a stampede of potential bonding attempts and have more best friends than anyone else on campus.
It might be too late for this year’s freshers, but if your kid has university ambitions, get them in the kitchen with sleeves rolled up NOW. If not… well, horses and stables doors come to mind… and we’ll be having the same conversation next year!