online learning

Cut the Pot Roast in Half: Blending my love for cooking and online learning


Online Learning: Evaluating processes, habits, and efficiency


Growing up, nothing was as comforting as my mom’s pot roast dinner. In this new world of online learning, schooling at home and the COVID pandemic, we are all are craving comfort foods. The recipe (click here for my great-grandma’s recipe!) has been passed down through the generations. When I moved into my first apartment, my mom gave me handwritten recipes from my childhood. On top of the stack was the century-old “Potted Pot-Roast”. I could not wait for a special occasion to try my hand at my great-great grandmother’s recipe. Excitedly, I went to the grocery store to gather all the ingredients, feeling ever so adult.  I called my sister, knowing she would share my enthusiasm. 

Following the Exact Same Steps

I turned the oven on and attended to the process.  Step one: Cut the pot roast in half. So, I followed my mother’s written orders mindlessly, caught up in my first attempt at adulting in the kitchen. As I was talking to my sister, giving her the play by play over the phone as sisters do, she mused, “I’ve always wondered. Why do we cut the pot roast in half?” I tried to think of a culinary purpose for this and was completely stumped. I called my mom and asked as there had to be a reason. The women in my family are known for being great home cooks, so I was anxious to learn the reason for cutting the pot roast in half. What magical secret of pot roast did my great-great grandma know? 

Century Old Habit

The answer was simple: embarrassingly simple. Because her 19th century skillet was too small to fit the whole pot roast, she had to cut it in half.  For more than a century, the women in my family have continued the tradition of cutting the pot roast in half, for no reason at all, other than “that’s how it’s always been done”.  

While we had a good laugh over this, I use this analogy quite often in our office and with our online learning and virtual school. As we complete our daily tasks, it is important to ask the whys. Are we doing it this way simply because that is how it has always been done, or is it truly the best way? If we do it differently, would we be more efficient? Is there a better way? Tradition is great, but it can impede progress.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Why

I challenge you, do not simply cut the pot roast in half. Evaluate your process and ask the why. Empower your employees to evaluate what they do; let them own their processes, their hows, their whys.  Continuous evaluation is key to continuous improvement. Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up. Change is essential for growth. In the words of Winston Churchill, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

This theme of evaluation and change is incredibly pertinent in the pandemic world we are now facing. Online learning has become the focal point for education in homes around the world; parents are teachers and computer screens are books. Schools couldn’t just cut the pot roast in half- they had to do things differently. For the majority, this is their introduction to learning in a virtual space. When we began ADVANTAGES, online education was still rather new. Today, our nation is dependent on it. This change has been forced and it has been a challenge. When we return to the new normal, educators will be evaluating so much of what they do and how they do it, and I believe the world will be better because of it. 

online learning

This blog post was provided by Allison Dampier, President/Founder at ADVANTAGES Digital Learning Solutions.

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