Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

February 2012

Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter February 2012

"Brother Juniper’s Bread Book" and the Theory of "Slow Rise" by Erika Guy, Dean of Students



During a recent forum for Class III parents, entitled “Navigating the Long Road to College,” I found myself answering a parent's question about the college process by once again, using a food metaphor. I just can’t seem to help myself! I was trying to make a point about the adolescent years being crucial moments for the requisite psychological tasks of identity development and independence and that the outcome-based expectation of college admittance sometimes creates tension, struggle and bad results. Without giving it much thought, I likened the crucible of high school to the process of making bread: there are no short cuts and the dough needs the time, space and the appropriate environment to rise. If you shove that dough into the oven prematurely, the results will be ugly. In retrospect, the reference I made most likely resulted from my recent reading of Brother Juniper’s Bread Book.

In the first chapter, author Peter Reinhart writes: “I learned about slow rise by reading Julia Child, who learned it from chefs, who learned it from bakers, who learned it from others before them. It is a principle, like a great cosmic law, that yields marvelous fruits when applied in conformity with other laws of baking and it is a principle that can, like all true principles, be transposed into the moral and ethical realms of politics, religion, work and life in general. Slow rise is like saying ‘the Way’, Tao, or insha’ a Allah.”

“Slow rise” as applied to the emerging adolescent/adult is no different. Like puberty, you cannot hurry it. It needs time and patience and trust in the fact that nature will work. Those of you who know the process of bread baking know what I am talking about. It takes a strong will NOT to interfere and want to rush the process, but we know that the longer the rise, the greater the character of the crust and the bread. In the same chapter of Reinhart's book, he mentions a world famous chili chef who advises not to stir a pot too often while it is cooking (“bothering the pot”) as this retards the character development of the chili. It requires faith in the process. Chili and bread have far more in common with adolescents than I ever could have imagined before.

So, if you are willing to follow along with my metaphor, I urge you to apply this thinking to your child’s Nobles experience. It shouldn’t be all about the oven…it should be about the “rise.”

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If you have questions, comments or suggestions for this newsletter, email Kim Neal at kim_neal@nobles.edu.