Your attitude determines your altitude

Hello Kevin,

I’m looking forward to working with you in the coming weeks. I always enjoy having another perspective in the classroom; it keeps me on my toes and gives me the opportunity to reflect on my practice. In a previous email you asked me what I think every Canadian needs to know, I’ll try my best to answer.

Knowledge is a tough thing to affix with a specific definition; I’ve attached a couple of resources for you to look at that sum up the murkiness that surrounds ideas of knowledge. I personally don’t take such a broad view. In my mind, what the students are supposed to know is outlined for us in the Integrated Resource Packages (IRPs) drawn up by the provincial government (which I follow to the best of my ability). While the IRPs do a great job of letting us know the technical information that we have to teach, they don’t give us much to work with when it comes to what I’ll call ‘lifeskills’ (I’ve attached the IRP that we’ll be using).

The subject of the email pretty well sums up what I hope the kids take away from my class. The kitchen is a tough place to make a living, but if you have a positive attitude you can go places. Tied up in that (at least for me) is the idea that you don’t know everything, but that you want to learn. I think this is one of the most important lessons I can impart to my students. There are few people more annoying in the kitchen, than the recently graduated culinary student who thinks they know everything. I want my students to leave my class with the knowledge of kitchen basics, but with a passion to learn, and improve.

For us as teachers, the attitude determining our altitude takes on a different meaning. In the article by Smith and Siegel they talk about the overlap of belief and knowledge in the context of teacher education research (pg 558). I agree with what that notion, and I think that belief is incredibly important. For me the concept of belief is most poignant when it comes to students. Of all the pieces of advice that I can give you around what every Canadian should know, it is this: You will get the students that you believe you are getting. That is, if you think that you are getting a group of students that are excited and eager to learn than that is what you will find when you come to class.

I hope that this email has been helpful, and that it answered at least some of the questions that you have.

I’m looking forward to meeting you in person!


Rowley, J. (2007). The wisdom hierarchy: Representations of the DIKW hierarchy. Journal of Information Science, 33(2), 163-180.

Smith, M. U. & Siegel, H. (2004). Knowing, believing, and understanding: What goals for science education? Science & Education, 13(6), 553-582.

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