Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Snacking Dangerously

Son Number Three brought this permission slip home from his sixth-grade cooking elective class the other day:

Over the next few weeks we will be working on a unit focused on making healthy after-school snacks. We will be learning knife skills in class so that the students can prepare fruits and vegetables. Students will be placed in small groups of 4-5 and will work directly with me to learn how to properly hold and handle a knife, as well as how to slice, chop, and dice. In order to participate in the hands-on knife skills training, all students must bring a signed permission slip.

   ___   I would like my child to participate in knife skills training.
   ___   I do NOT want my child to participate in knife skills at this time.

I have a lot of issues with this permission slip, starting with the fact that someone in our school district thought that a permission slip was needed in the first place. My son is in the sixth grade. He’s eleven years old. He has his own monogrammed folding pocketknife that he carries around with him (off campus, of course). If he doesn’t know how to slice a cucumber without hurting himself by now, then let’s just let the natural learning and selection process run its course.

I checked the yes box, and added a note asking if they would also be learning proper knife throwing techniques. I mean, if you’re going to make me sign a permission slip before my kid is allowed to do something as crazy as chop a bell pepper, then let’s really use the parental permission to its fullest. This could be a combination cooking and bladed weapon self-defense class, for example. Appetizers and axe throwing? Brunch and bayonets? I just feel like we’re missing a real opportunity for some higher learning, here.

You know, it wasn’t too long ago that sixth graders were running the radial arm saw in woodshop, and no permission slip ever went home for that. Of course, the radial arm saw gets its name from the fact that it’s great at removing your arm, just above the radius. (The original name, “ulnar arm saw,” didn’t work because everyone thought you were saying “underarm saw,” which obviously refers to a gas-powered thirty-inch-bar chainsaw.)

We have drifted a long way from the days of being taught woodworking skills by an eight-fingered man, but it’s very clear that we’ve gone over the edge the wrong way in the name of safety. That being said, my biggest problem with this permission slip has nothing to do with the knives.

Apparently, the only “healthy after-school snacks” being presented as options to my impressionable young son are fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables!? This is a travesty. I ask you, Rocklin Unified School District, what about the Totino’s Pizza Rolls? You call this a responsible and informed education??

And you want to talk about safety concerns? Let’s talk about a pizza roll that just came out of the oven. The potential for third- or even sixth-degree burns from the explosive molten-lava-marinara and cheese filling cannot be understated. If our military could somehow develop a rapid delivery system to effectively weaponize hot Totino’s pizza rolls, conflicts around the globe could be ended tomorrow. Try to say that about fruits and vegetables.

Pizza rolls - now that’s a situation that should require a permission slip!

And safety goggles.

See you soon,


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