I had some super-exciting news this week: an article I wrote about my food-themed experiential English 101 was accepted and is currently NISOD’s featured Innovation Abstract. NISOD is a national organization that focuses on professional development at two year and technical colleges, so it is kind of a big deal.You can read it here: christinerai-nisod-innovation-abstracts
Anyway, this semester I am teaching the second iteration of this course using the same flipped, experiential model. Our first field trip was to a local apiary to learn firsthand the integral role bees play in our food system and why they are currently in crisis. The students were prepared ahead of time by watching a documentary and TED Talk and reading up on the honeybee crisis. However, there is something magical about being in the midst of these charming and surprisingly complex insects that video or the written word cannot adequately capture. Upon arrival, students donned their head nets and hung back, unsure what sort of reception the bees might give them. By the end of our visit, though, students were leaning in to take photos of the bees, asking incisive questions, and tasting honey.
My students will synthesize all these resources to craft an essay about the honeybee crisis and what beekeepers, the general public, and policymakers can do to help. But I truly believe that long after students’ memories of the paper fade, their sunny morning with the bees will remain. Therein lies the power of experiential education: its potential to create truly meaningful and lasting learning.
Are you aware of the current honeybee crisis? What are you doing to help our buzzy little friends?