Reprint courtesy of the Missouri Education Watchdog
Since the Department of Education is determined to make us "global" in our educational pursuits and interests, perhaps schools should take a page from Britain's educational planof....beekeeping. The subtitle reads:
Learning to look after bees has transformed the behaviour of unruly pupils, says headteacher
In PE, the children study the waggle dance that scout bees do to tell the other bees where nectar is to be found. In cooking lessons, they use honey in their recipes, and in geography, they learn how different parts of the world make use of bees.
Business advisors have helped the children open a shop selling honey in the school playground. The pupils weigh the honey and work out pricing, write ads for the shop and design branding for the jars.An unexpected benefit has been the effect the bees have had on behaviour. Baker says they have had a "massive impact" on challenging pupils:
"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."
One pupil was a regular visitor to the school's behavioural support house because of his violent outbursts of kicking, punching and throwing furniture around. While he struggled with academic work, he discovered that he excelled at the the practical side of beekeeping: making the wooden frames that go into the hive, and dismantling the hive to access the honey.
When the Guardian's bees expert, Alison Benjamin, visited the school, the pupil told her: "The bees made me peaceful and calm."
"It's not just him, other unruly children have also risen to the challenge. They have finally found something they like to do at school and they are good at."
The introduction to sociology, psychology, capitalism, science, art, animal husbandry, geography, consumer science (home economics), and wood shop (is it still called that?) is all wrapped up in one course. It would be less expensive and more "hands on" than the expensive computers needed in schools and most importantly, such a class involves participation in the educational process:
Baker wholeheartedly recommends beekeeping: "When I first looked into it, I was thinking of the curriculum. But it has had unexpected spin-offs – it has given parents and children a common interest, improved the behaviour of disaffected pupils, and worked on the two extra 'r's' in the curriculum: respect and responsibility."
Do you think such "respect and responsibility" can be enhanced through a virtual online course? Maybe we should ask the kids who are in a beekeeping club at Maplewood Middle School in suburban St. Louis their thoughts on that question.
Sorry folks, Sandra's still on vacation and will be for the next few weeks. SDLGretchen from the Missouri has been kind enough to help out. Personally I enjoy reading Gretchen's posts, she a damn good writer -- You can find an entire collection of her material here.