I just started working in a kitchen as line cook. I've been on the section for about a month. I also started working as a piano teacher in another job ... and I also happen to be doing culinary school at the same time AND I am studying music too. So I just wanted to give a few learning tips - though I guess it should be straight forward. Mind you, I was the worst in my culinary class, I caught up half way through the semester and that was really a huge relief - I was ready to fall onto my safety net and stick to music (even though I sincerely didn't want to).
People on the forum already pointed out that there might be some very fishy things - the drinking, drug taking, sleep deprivation to be the reasons behind why the line cooks are unable to retain what they have learned.
Here are some things that I have been doing to assist me in retaining some of the new information from the new job - maybe you can suggest or even enforce the cooks into doing certain things to retain what they have learned
- Writing down the ingredients and methods for their standard recipes
- Asking questions - mind you, I am very curious and inquisitive, in my first week of culinary school I asked the teacher whether the orange moved or the peeler moved when he peeled the orange, I also asked if Aspic had a taste - both answers that he had to think about and check on when I asked him. I am shy when it comes to question asking but I don't get shy when the instructor invites me to ask questions
- As Brandon said - prep sheets help
Somethings I learned as a teacher and as a student
- Detail, or too much detail can be overwhelming- Keep it simple and don't confuse them with too much detail. Be basic about it
- Writing can be a passive way of learning. Demonstrating - and delegating tasks to the cooks or watching them whilst instructing them are usually more effective when it comes to retaining things. A recipe card should be there for them in case they forget and understandably don't retain everything that you said. Don't rely purely on writing.
- You seem to be doing all the work, sometimes when you get the student to do more stuff on their own, they have to use their heads and think and normally what you have taught would be retained. When you teach them next time - get them to write it down, or ASK them what ingredients are needed for this recipe, what prep needs to get done... If they still give you a blank look, say we've been through this before, several times, remember (insert occasion) to jog their memory
- When you get them to do something, ask them why do we do this: e.g. why do we fry the pork belly skin side down? This should reinforce their memory, and give them hard tangible 'rules' to remember
And I like Cheflayne's answer- asking them what you could do to help them retain helps. My culinary teacher did something similar. Here are some of the things he did:
Gave me tips - basic ones - e.g. start one job, finish it, start another job - have a workflow never do seven things at once (I was messy at a certain time)
Reflected by asking me: Why do you think you as so slow/bad? How do you think we can fix this?
Setting up an intervention: Made me work closer to him so that he could watch me and so that I could ask questions more directly
I hope this helps. All the best. I know that teaching is a hard job. It's rewarding when students get better though.