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3.1 One person’s experience

A celebrity informal learner: Madhur Jaffrey CBE
Figure 5 A celebrity informal learner: Madhur Jaffrey CBE

Madhur Jaffrey is a good example of someone who has successfully combined learning experiences. She is a best-selling cookbook writer and actress, and was a popular television presenter. She has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for her contributions to drama, culture and cuisine – but as a child she never learned to cook.

Madhur travelled to London at age 19 to study drama. As a student, she desperately missed home-cooked food and wrote letters to her mother back in India asking her how to cook different dishes.

Her formal learning was focused on her drama course. However, at the same time, she was informally learning how to cook. As things turned out, Madhur’s rather unusual style of informal learning was far more important in her life than the formal learning in her drama course. This combination of learning experiences enabled her to develop more career choices – perhaps we could even say she was liberated by her learning.

Can you see how some aspects of Madhur’s learning can be seen as deliberate, such as enrolling on a drama course, while some seems to have been more accidental – a result of needing to cook for herself in a new country?