The Scone Metamorphosis

I don’t want to be that guy who never volunteers for anything on some kind of principle. But it seems to me like every time I do volunteer for something, it goes terribly wrong. At work we have these bullshit classes called life clubs, where we teach give the students some tasks to do, and hopefully to do while speaking English. I have tried my hand at this classes (I have a minimum to teach every month) and they are often good enough so long as the student’s hands are held throughout.

So a colleague of mine takes some time off and the incompetant scheduler leaves his life club on the schedule with no one to do it. Then the inevitable text message comes in “Hey man can you cover my life club next week?”

“What’s the topic?”

“Making scones”

God damn it. Food life clubs are pretty much doomed to failure from the start, because the only people who sign up for them are cheap asses looking for a free meal, and these students are generally so low level that they cannot do any assignment you give them. I avoid food life clubs like I avoid diseases. I express my concern and my co-worker tells me he will do all the prep, and explain to me how to make it go well.

I bit, and then I find myself on the day of reviewing the instructions one last time. Give the students the recipe, have them look it over until they understand what they need to do, answering any questions as needed. Of course, there were no measuring instruments of any kind, not enough bowls to do all the mixing, and no paper plates to ultimately eat the final product on. So things were going to go really well.

The class turns up on time, and of the 12 only three are actually at a level where they can actually do a basic amount of communicating in English.  I break them into groups, making sure at least one of the competent students is in every group, and I ask them to discuss the recipe. Surprisingly enough, they seem to study it diligently look it over and discuss their plan of action. They even asked me rather good questions about what certain things meant, and for just a few moments I had faith in what they were doing. After the allotted time was up I asked which group was ready to go, and one confidently approached the work table.

A student I actually like was in this group, and admittedly they did a good job up until the point that one of the students completly ignored how much of the paper cup you needed to use for it to match a liquid cup. So when the ingredients got mixed, the whole things was far too fluid, and so they added a shit ton more flour and kneaded excessively.

I have no baking skills, but from what I understand for a scone to be a scone you need to knead it for a short time and get it into the oven soon. This is because you use small chunks of frozen butter, which is meant to help form pockets of air inside the scone. Of course, with all the kneading they did, the butter was melted and integrated into the mixture.

Oddly shaped biscuits came out of that oven. And with the first whiff of baked goods, out came the parasites who wanted to eat them after having contributed nothing and not even being signed up for the class. I sent them away as the class enjoyed the first batch of not scones.

I then explained what had gone wrong and asked the next group if they understood what mistakes were made. Everyone nodded vigorously, likely assuming I was just asking if they were enjoying the scones. The second group got up, and one person in the group stole the show, he did everything by himself with only a superficial awareness of the recipe he had read. At best, he was doing it in response to having watched the previous recipe, not even bothering to measure out the milk but adding a dollop at a time as he felt was needed. He kneaded the ever living fuck out of them, formed them into balls and got them into an oven. Biscuits came out, but at least this time they were proper biscuits.

At this point I considered the night a wash.

The third group came up to bat, and at this point it was like the recipe never even existed. Ingredients went in with no semblance of measurements, in random order, and was kneaded for an excessive amount of time. More biscuits came out of the process.

Now why should I care? Well, it’s because I am a teacher, and I am hoping to do my job well. It bothers me that things come out wrong because the first assumption is that I have done something wrong as a teacher.

That being said, I really don’t think anything that happened with this one was really my fault. The students here are completly incapable of following instructions. They can’t do it in normal classes, so why should they  do it with something this complicated. Best bet is to say fuck it, let ’em screw it up as they please.

I will be doing a sandwich making life club soon. I can’t wait to see how they fuck that up.

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