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Mrs Webb’s Blog

What is the recipe for success?

As we hurtle towards the end of a very busy half term and my “things to do” list gets seemingly longer by the minute, I reach for the flour, butter, sugar and eggs to find my moment of calm.

I’ve used baking as a tool for mindfulness since my late teens. It doesn’t come with a set of rules. Baking doesn’t judge. Plus at the end of it you are rewarded with something delicious, whether it’s the best chocolate brownies you’ve ever made or some unfamiliar looking blobs of dough that should be cinnamon buns but have gone hopelessly wrong. Over the years I have got much better at it and have learned that baking teaches you a lot of worthwhile lessons about life.

Firstly, things are going to get messy. It doesn’t matter how careful you are or how well you plan, not everything works out perfectly. Egg shell gets in your batter. You’re going to lose out on that university place you thought you’d nailed the interview for. The only thing you can expect in baking, and in life, is that you’re not really supposed to expect anything at all, because there are just some things you can’t control.

Some accidents are good. Baking forgives a lot. You can accidentally use the wrong type of sugar and your cake tastes a bit different. Perhaps even better. You plan an essay but you go off on a (more interesting?) tangent. We often beat ourselves up over little things when they are much less of a problem than we think.

Baking helps you learn from mistakes. The cake that was didn’t quite work because half of it slid from the cooling rack onto the floor teaches you to weigh the ingredients next time. The Maths test in which you missed out on several marks teaches you to read the question, don’t rush.

But also, something can still be salvaged—you still have half a cake! It’s not a total disaster, provided you don’t give up. When something unexpected or accidental happens, something good can still come out of it. The memory of the error reminds us not to do it again. Or in the case of the broken cake, add a bit more buttercream and it’ll all be just fine!

Sometimes it’s worth the risk. Substitute sultanas for cherries. Try something different. Join a sports team in year 7 when you’ve never played before and you might find yourself player of the match in your first fixture. Sometimes shaking things up will leave you pleasantly surprised.

Some things are worth waiting for. How much self-control do I have to exercise by not eating the entire bowl of shortbread dough? And while I am always going to lick the spoon, my patience is rewarded when warm biscuits come out of the oven. We often have to put work in now for an end product that we have to wait for, whilst wondering if it is worth it. Patience can be hard when we can’t see or taste the results now. This is especially relevant as Year 11 and 13 prepare for examinations. While the years of study, trying things out, making mistakes and generally figuring things out are certainly a lot more of an effort than the ten minutes of waiting for cookies to be ready, it will be worth the wait when you get somewhere or get to do something that makes you genuinely happy. Just as in baking, the proof is in the pudding.

I was reminded of all of these life lessons when Class of 2018 alumnae Morayo Adeagbo came to visit the Year 12 Pathways group this week, to share her experiences of applying for Drama School and what she has been doing since she left Croydon High. Morayo was refreshingly honest about the knock-backs and disappointments she received throughout year 13 in her quest to find somewhere to train as an actor. Her resilience and fighting spirit shone through as she shook herself off after each rejection, picked herself up and went back for the next round. After two years of study, Morayo is now auditioning for professional work and finds she is so well-prepared to deal with the uncertainty of every audition because of those earlier trials which really helped her to be “real world ready.”

Whilst we are on the subject of ensuring our girls are “real world ready”, I was intrigued to hear about the Reception class Toast Café from Mr Eaton in the Junior School this week.

The Reception children are learning to count, recognise and use numbers 1 – 10. Mr Eaton wanted the girls to apply their knowledge to real life situations and problems solving, so he introduced the Toast Cafe. Due to demand, it is open every Friday.

Every girl has a purse containing 10 x 1p coins. They visit the cafe and order what they want from the cafe owner. What is available varies each week in order to build in progression. So far, it has been organised as follows:

Week One

Toast at 4p per slice

Week Two

Toast at 4p per slice & Jam 2p extra

 Week Three

Toast at 4p per slice & Jam 2p & Croissant 3p & Bagel 2p

The children read the menu, make a choice and select the correct money from their purse.

They then wait for the bread to be toasted before being given a knife and butter (and jam if they have paid for it). Girls spread the butter and jam on their toast before eating it. When they have finished they wash their plate, dry it and return it to the cafe owner. The girls can visit the cafe as often as they like until all of their money is spent. The cafe owner may offer a reduced price if the girls show initiative such as “I’ve only got 3p left. I haven’t really got enough for another slice of toast as I need 1p more.”

What a wonderful way to develop knowledge and life skills in our young people. It is these memorable experiences that make learning at Croydon High an exciting and rewarding experience.

Because in everything we do to prepare for the future, the hard work is always worth it. Especially if that reward is slathered in 2p worth of extra jam!

Mrs Emma Webb

Assistant Head (Co-curricular)

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