It seemed innocent enough. I was offered $20,000 to go to culinary school. What an amazing opportunity! Little did I know the toll it would take. I started classes in July. After the first week I was panicked because I didn't fit in, not even a little bit. My classmates were half my age and incredibly rowdy. Every class period was like a junior high lunch room, with people yelling, cursing, carrying on conversations throughout class (both with each other and on their cell phones) and engaging in horseplay. I'm serious about learning, passionate about culinary arts and respectful and professional. Few of my classmates share any of those traits.
I talked to some of them, explaining I hadn't been in school for twenty years so it was harder for me to concentrate when they were loud and. A few of them seemed chastened and behaved more maturely. A couple became belligerent and called me everything from uptight to a racist. Most just ignored me and kept on being disruptive.
Next I went to my teachers, who agreed it was out of hand and started shushing the classes when they got too loud. That wasn't very successful so it escalated to threats of ejection from class. Nobody got kicked out but the obnoxious behavior continued, so I went up the chain to the chair of my department. The next class meeting everyone was seated alphabetically. It took four weeks but this finally broke up the worst of the cliques and the Romper Room atmosphere was toned down enough for me to make it through my first quarter.
Monday night was my first class of this quarter and I walked into even more chaos than I had back in July. When I enrolled at AI I was told my kitchen classes would have no more than 15 to 18 students. Last night we had 26. We only have work stations for a maximum of 20 and the kitchen is stocked for about 15 students so we quickly ran out of everything. It was a mad dash to grab what you could, when you could.
When the teacher left to get more ingredients or equipment more than half the class would erupt into horseplay. The last straw for me was when I was helping a fellow student wash all the dishes. I was putting them away from the drying rack and there was a cluster of our classmates standing beside us in a circle doing freestyle rap while people would enter the circle and breakdance. I asked one of them to help me put away the dishes and responded, "You ain't my massa."
I withdrew from classes today. I simply can't endure another quarter like last one. It's not worth my time or effort when The Art Institute can't create an environment in which I can learn. Rather than being the pissed off grumpy old man I decided to remove myself from the situation. I appreciate the opportunity I was given by the Food Network. I sincerely wish I could have taken advantage of it.
I don't know what my next step might be. It probably won't be culinary school, at least for a while.