John A. Baron

John A. Baron

Curiosity is the mother of invention. John A. Baron , Culinary Instructor , The Art Institute of California—San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University

What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I passed my doctoral comprehensives, and after completing the orals, was applauded by the Professor Emeritus of Linguistics as having presented a benchmark defense of my competency.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession

Since I do considerable consulting outside of the classroom, I can tie the particular course objectives to a current personal case study and thus lend to the exercise a beating heart, which resonates with reality. And I always challenge them to improve upon the solutions that I present to the problems at hand.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

We do wine blending seminars whereby the students are given a legacy blend and the component varietals that could possibly make up that blend. They attempt to figure out the ratios of the components that created the blend, by testing various combinations. They are assessed on how close they come to the original ratios. Then, they are challenged to create their own proprietary blend based on the testing they did with blending in the exercise. Initially very intimidated by the project, they quickly learn to trust their own taste preferences and find language with which to discuss them.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Most breakthroughs happen when new unheard-of combinations and perspectives are deployed in projects. Success is more apt to find you when fresh eyes touch the subject. Collaboration forces flexibility. Flexibility rewards the project with sustainability.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

Curiosity is the mother of invention. If they are not curious about the nature of their business, it will never connect with their heart.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

I am a student of language and culture. I have worked, studied, traveled, and enjoyed the wide world out there. We have to become citizens of the world, by contributing our individual uniqueness to it. Students need to open up to the world and find their true place.