Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bobby Flay & Bachelor Degrees

While watching the Food Network's show "Next Food Network Star" this week, I heard Bobby Flay casually make a very interesting comment. In discussing one of the finalists who is a high school dropout, Bobby said, "I stopped going to high school after my freshman year." Hmmmm. Yet another tremendously successful skilled service worker and entrepreneur who did not finish high school ... who did not go to college ... who did not need a bachelor's degree.

The story on Bobby is that he dropped out of high school after his freshman year - or at the age of seventeen, the details are unclear - and went straight to work. He began working in restaurants, supposedly working in a Baskin-Robbins and a pizza parlor. After that rough start, he began working at a restaurant in New York's Theater District, where his dad was a partner. Impressed with Bobby Flay, the owner paid for Bobby's tuition to the French Culinary Institute. From there Bobby began an impressive career in the culinary arts that has led to worldwide success and fame with ten restaurants bearing his name. He also secured a job on the fledgeling Food Network, clearly revealing his skill in front of the camera as well as behind the service counter.

Yet another American success story on a young man who did not fit our traditional education paradigm, but had great promise and success based on skills not measured by ACTs or state tests. I'd like to see more support in schools for people like Bobby Flay.


Anonymous said...

What does that mean to you? What kind of school do you see that supports the Bobby Flay's of the world?

P.S. - I get bugged by examples like this to some extent. While I agree with your thinking (I think), there can only be so many Bobby Flay's, Bill Gates's or Lebron James's.

Anonymous said...

Pardon my messed-up apostrophes.

mmazenko said...

Absolutely. But sending more culinary and trade oriented kids on to bachelor degree programs won't do them any good either. Too many kids who want to go into a trade are asked by adults, "Wouldn't you rather get a business degree and start your own restaurant." Well, they don't need that.

If our education system allowed the Bobby Flays to graduate at sixteen and enter a trade school, fewer would get lost. He got lucky by finding a benefactor who saw his potential in culinary arts. That could have happened in the public schools if we developed culinary arts programs.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying that it is OK for kids to be done with school after high school? A novel and seditious thought :)

If you haven't read "Shopcraft as Soulcraft," you should. It's not perfect (is anything?), but it's pertinent and potentially interesting.


mmazenko said...

Of course it's OK for kids to be done after high school - maybe even before. The k-16 model is wrong. Though I am not opposed to higher education for any who want it - it'd be great if our plumbers could discuss Jane Austen and our English professors could change an O-ring ... or cook a gourmet meal ... intelligently discuss macro-economics. A classical education - as much as possible for all - is never bad for a society.

And I have read - and loved and promoted - Shopcraft as Soulcraft. In fact, I think I posted on it somewhere. Wish more would hear its message.

Anonymous said...

Flay is most certainly an American success story assuming your father and friends have connections and a fat wallet. However, Flay's restaurants do not offer its employees the same opportunities. It is run by an inner circle of his friends who chew up and spit out managers and workers at will. The so called Human Relations division only seems to exist to constantly turn over employees caring little about continuity or achievement. This business is to the restaurant industry as Enterprise (read the blogs) is to the car rental business in terms of the respect it shows its workers and it general business ethics. But, so glad, that Bobby made it!!!!!!!!!!!!

mmazenko said...

Wow, that is certainly a new one on me. And quite the revelation ... or at least accusation. If true that is mighty unfortunate. Yet the point about traditional high school and roles is still valid.