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Relevant Education: A Lesson in Beekeeping

September 7, 2011

What do beekeepers and primary school students have in common? They’re one in the same.


Students at Charlton Manor Primary School in the U.K. are learning the trade of beekeeping, and the results are astounding. Beekeeping is completely woven into the fabric of the school’s curriculum. Students study the bees’ social behavior and how different cultures make use of bees. But it isn’t the direct study of bees that has the biggest impact on the students.


As head teacher Tim Baker states in this article, “One of the big things for me is getting children to think of others, and to be aware of their responsibility to others. With some children, you can’t get them to understand that in relation to other children, but you can show them using bees, chickens or plants.”


It’s difficult to inspire young minds just by teaching theories or abstract equations. But when you attach such material to relevant, real world scenarios like beekeeping, the students instantly engage.


At Charlton Manor, students sell nectar on the school playground. They weigh the honey and work out pricing, write ads for the shop and design branding for the jars. They are learning essential teamwork skills and business fundamentals. But they’re not learning it by sitting in a desk and staring at a chalkboard all day.


Lectures have their place in a scholastic setting. But we can’t rely solely on this anachronistic teaching style if we want to rebuild our school system. Kids need to learn by doing. And by doing things they enjoy. That’s not to say that Charlton Manor is a breeding ground for the next generation of beekeeping superstars. It simply means that it’s easier to inspire students when you engage with them instead of talking at them.


Kids don’t have to love bees in order to love learning from them. According to the article mentioned above, one student who was struggling academically, “discovered that he excelled at the practical side of beekeeping: making the wooden frames that go into the hive, and dismantling the hive to access the honey.” Perhaps this student will recognize his innate talent and go on to become a world-class carpenter…all because he studied bees at Charlton Manor Primary School.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2011 4:28 pm

    This you for this post. I am always so inspired when I read stories like this. Seeing our children exploring nature, whether through gardening or in this case beekeeping brings them so much closer to the things that truly matter. Becoming a beekeeper isn’t so bad either! I’d like to share a link to a documentary “The Vanishing of The Bees,” by my friend Maryam Henein. We need bees and beekeepers!

  2. September 13, 2011 3:02 am

    Great looking documentary! Thanks for sharing, Jasmin. The dwindling honey bee population is definitely an under-appreciated dilemma that will affect the whole word. I hope your friend’s documentary grows a stellar audience and spread awareness about the issue.

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