“Of course, it’s challenging,” the Chef Lecturer of 19 years tells us after an online lesson. “I wanted to ignite a little passion in cooking again, and thought that our students may want to get more hands on.”
Westminster Kingsway College has adapted to online learning for its highly-regarded culinary courses, with students and staff meeting online to continue with their courses as planned. One silver lining that Miranda has already picked out is the opportunity for students to continue to interact and share notes:
“Some classes are combined, so I have given the more experienced students the responsibility of leading group discussions and setting projects. Some students can’t always obtain all the ingredients, that they need, but at least online they can watch and absorb and see their classmates … and talk to each other without face masks!”
The effect of lockdown on student wellbeing and mental health has been a frequently reported area of discussion since last summer, often linked to a lack of regular communication. To address this, Thursday 14 January saw the pilot of another weekly class aimed at providing healthy meals for the whole family. The idea, says Miranda, is to “involve the whole year group in a social meetup cook-along” to start and finish within an hour.
“Many students are suffering from mental health issues. The meetup hopefully gives them something to look forward to and create a positive, fun environment in which we can chat together, learn something and have a rewarding outcome.”
Reaching audiences beyond the college, a revelation of the move online has been the ability to stream classes on social media. For the first time, Ms Godfrey has been also sharing her class cook-alongs on Instagram to an international audience.
“I had alumni from the UK and overseas watching and messaging me the loveliest comments of how much they miss the college and my teaching. I have now contacted many alumni and asked for them to join the class as guests and demonstrators.”
In her class on 8 January, Miranda hosted the food historian, author and broadcaster Dr Annie Gray. Miranda and Annie are friends and have collaborated on television programmes and the book How to Cook the Victorian Way with Mrs Crocombe, available online.
Though firmly aware of the challenges of adapting the classroom for an online audience, Miranda’s unwavering optimism is encouraging. Looking towards the future, she has enrolled on a Culinary Health and Nutrition Degree at the college, taught by Dr Rachel Edwards. And at the beginning of February, she appeared on Heart FM to talk about the role of cooking and learning in staying busy through the lockdown. It is reassuring to see examples of remote learning creating new opportunities for staff and students alike to learn. As those involved get used to their new surroundings, it’s hard not to think the same thing: 2021 will be better.
You can catch Chef Miranda cooking sessions on her Instagram account