Teaching Students About James May

James May, a well-known television presenter, journalist, and former co-host of the popular show “Top Gear,” has continued to inspire car enthusiasts and engineers around the world. Teaching students about his life and work is a great way to encourage them to pursue passions in engineering, mechanics, and cultural appreciation. In this article, we’ll discuss why James May is a fascinating subject for students to learn about and suggest some ways to incorporate him into classroom lessons.

The Life and Career of James May

Born on January 16, 1963, in Bristol, England, James May started his career as a sub-editor for various magazines before entering the world of television. With his love for cars and vast knowledge about automobiles, he joined BBC’s Top Gear in 1999. May contributed extensively to the show’s success with his technical expertise, laid-back demeanor, and camaraderie with co-hosts Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond.

Though primarily known for his work on Top Gear (2003-2015) and its successor The Grand Tour (2016-present), May has also hosted other shows like “James May’s Toy Stories,” “James May’s Cars of the People,” and “James May: Our Man in Japan.”

Learning from James May’s Passion

One aspect that students can learn from James May is his deep passion for cars. He has often showcased his love for motoring by participating in various car challenges on television shows. Many segments highlight his ability to dissect complex engineering concepts into simpler terms that viewers can easily understand. Encouraging students to learn from his passion can ignite their curiosity in engineering, design, and automobiles.

Exploring Culture Through Cars

May not only teaches us about cars but also provides insight into different cultures through automobiles. For example, “James May: Our Man in Japan” showcases Japanese culture and traditions while he immerses himself in their automotive world. By focusing on James May’s love for cars and cultural explorations, educators can inspire students to better appreciate the intersection of engineering and global societies.

Classroom Activities

1. Top Gear Episode Analysis

Provide students with an episode of “Top Gear” featuring James May to analyze his role in explaining the mechanics and engineering aspects of featured cars. Discuss how he simplifies complex subjects for viewers.

2. Biography Project

Assign students a project to research James May’s life, career, and contributions to automotive journalism. Encourage them to use various sources such as articles, interviews, and television shows.

3. Engineering Challenges

Using James May as an inspiration, create hands-on activities for students that involve engineering concepts related to automobiles. These could include designing a model car or exploring various aspects of aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.

4. Cultural Exploration

Discuss the automotive cultures around the world showcased in James May’s shows like “Cars of the People” and “Our Man in Japan.” Encourage students to reflect on the role cars play in society and engage in discussions about how transportation varies across cultures.


Introducing students to James May can be a valuable educational experience, combining educational content with entertainment value. By incorporating his passion for cars, engineering knowledge, and cultural insights into lessons, teachers can inspire a new generation of enthusiasts eager to learn about mechanics, design, global understanding, and much more.

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