‘Who knew? Masterchef Australia as a Tool for Social and Emotional Development and Instruction’

In May I attended #TMSydUni and remember being completely enthralled and delighted by an ingenious presentation by an education student who used a particular outfit worn by Delta Goodrem on ‘The Voice’ to teach the concept of supply and demand to his class. Very simple but conceptually brilliant (after all most of the students could relate immediately with what he was talking about) I marvelled at his ingenuity and thought nothing more of it…until now.

I’ve found myself unexpectedly back in a school setting and as counsellor of primary children have the brief of supporting students’ social and emotional learning. I do this mostly through play and facilitated group discussions with either individuals, small groups or whole classes. Although my work isn’t Australian curriculum subjects the content of my work is really important as it’s well established that without feeling good about themselves, student participation in school life will most likely be compromised.

And today, as I worked with a class of Year 5 students it suddenly occurred to me that the content of what many of them were viewing at home was actually very relevant to their social and emotional learning. Without even realising it, the Masterchef competitors are providing children across the nation with examples of the following skills which we as teachers recognise as imperative to optimal emotional development, including:

– the importance of working as a team

– emotional regulation (particularly managing anxiety and stress)

– being a good leader

– the importance of communicating clearly

– learning from mistakes

– the value of persisting and hard work

– taking risks

– valuing being ‘good enough’ above perfectionism

– fair play and graciously accepting defeat

– humility

– resilience and bouncing back from adversity (how many times have you worn that eliminations apron Samira? Really was it 10? Wow!!)

Although I don’t normally watch television  (I have neither the interest or the time) I have been pleasantly delighted at having the opportunity to snuggle up with my two primary aged children and discuss the trials and tribulations that occur in the various Masterchef kitchens through the social and emotional learning lens. As the series has developed, so has my children’s understanding about how the behaviour of the contestants relates to the above and as opposed to the initial gender preferences at the beginning of the series (yep, glad the initial ‘boys versus girls’ component of the competition rubbish is long gone) they now use the personal qualities of the remaining eight participants as predictors of their success.

And the class I worked with today got it too. They understood how the increasingly complex tasks were providing great learning opportunities for the people on the show and understood that the whole point (much like school) was that it was meant to be hard, for how else would any of them learn anything new and improve their skills? They got it immediately with content that was relevant, current and which was familiar to most of them and for those reasons I think Masterchef Australia is a fantastic tool for teaching and developing students’ social and emotional learning. Now all that needs to happen is for the violent ads to be censored (they’re not all family friendly Channel Ten – you really need to do something about that) and it will tick all the boxes!!!

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