Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Fortunate Learning and Learning Fortunes #blimage

I couldn't resist taking up the challenge once again when Jane Bozarth responded to Jane Hart's #blimage challenge. Above Is Jane B's chosen image. In case you have missed this hashtag which seems to have erupted today, the objective is to write a blog post linking the image to learning and to then add your own image and share with more educators. Blog posts are being curated on Pinterest by Simon Ensor. Also check out posts by Amy Burvall and Steve Wheeler who set this going! You can get the gist from my previous blog post here.

Fortune Cookies

So my first response is I see fortune cookies. What are they? Well a little look at Wikipedia tells us that...

fortune cookie is a crisp cookie usually made from floursugarvanilla, and sesame seed oil with a piece of paper, a "fortune", on which is an aphorism, or a vague prophecy. The message inside may also include a Chinese phrase with translation or a list of lucky numbers used by some as lottery numbers, some of which have become actual winning numbers

The BBC even have a recipe to make Fortune cookies!

100g/3½oz plain flour
1½ tbsp cornflour
50g/1¾oz caster sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 free-range eggs, whites only
1 tsp water
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract

Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat. Write fortunes on pieces of paper about 6cm x 1cm/2½in x ½in.
Sift the flour and cornflour into a large bowl then add the sugar and salt and mix well. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the oil, egg whites, water and vanilla and almond extracts.
Place tablespoons of the mixture onto the silicone mat and use the back of a metal spoon to swirl out the mixture into 10cm/4in circles. Leave space between each cookie as they will spread a little during cooking; you will get about five cookies onto the baking tray so will have to cook them in batches. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. The outer edge of each cookie should turn golden brown and the cookies should be easy to remove with a spatula when cooked.

Place a fortune in the centre of each cookie and while the cookie is still soft and pliable, fold it in half and pinch the semi circular edges together to seal. Place the folded edge of the cookie onto the rim of a cup or glass and gently pull the two corners down, one on the inside of the cup and one on the outside, to form the classic fortune cookie shape. Set aside to cool and repeat with the remaining cookies.

Fortune messages

You can download and print fortunes from various internet sites such as the Fortune Cookie Message Archive. Who'd have thought it was such a big thing? And yet the more I read, the more I recalled vague memories of weddings including these as table favours. I'm not a fan of Chinese food (as it is served in the UK, which I understand is different to China) but realise these fortune cookies are also given out at some point during the meal. 

Reading further it would seem there is a dispute with regards to the origin, with claims that fortune cookies actually come from Japan. The New York Times shares a story about Nakamachi, a folklore and history graduate student at Kanagawa University outside Tokyo, who has spent more than six years trying to establish the Japanese origin of the fortune cookie. 

"As she researched the cookie's Japanese origins, among the most persuasive pieces of evidence Nakamachi found was an illustration from a 19th-century book of stories, "Moshiogusa Kinsei Kidan." A character in one of the tales is an apprentice in a senbei store. In Japan, the cookies are called, variously, tsujiura senbei ("fortune crackers"), omikuji senbei ("written fortune crackers"), and suzu senbei ("bell crackers")."

Cookies go stale and fortunes are forever was the title of Fine Art thesis written by David Cavaliero. It is deep and may need further unpacking. However the title caught my eye. Thinking about learning approaches, there are many examples where these may be considered stale and not engaging. The materials shared in lectures can sometimes be jaded or out of date. Perhaps though at the time they were created they were 'of the moment' and captured students curiosity to learn more. The ability to learn is our fortune. Learning fortunes can be anything from quick wins and just in time learning to deep learning and life changing. I feel fortunate to have had the learning opportunities I have had and I hope I am going some way to give this back to my students and those I learn with.  

Can we make our fortune through learning? A measure of prestige in the US is being a company on the Fortune 500 list. What did it take to get there? What's your measure of success in relation to learning? 

Public domain image: https://pixabay.com/en/scales-balance-measure-weigh-blue-309810/

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