Bringing a bit of magic to learning

When you’ve got to introduce challenging content to audiences, it’s good to get inspiration in unexpected places. We loved this interview with superstar magician Teller: Teaching: Just like performing magic.

Before finding fame as the silent half of Penn & Teller, he taught Latin for six years. That might have been a challenging gig in modern times, but he clearly brought showmanship to it. Following the educational philosophy of “romance, specialisation, generalisation” he focussed on bring his love of the subject to life for his students:

“The first job of a teacher is to make the student fall in love with the subject. That doesn’t have to be done by waving your arms and prancing around the classroom; there’s all sorts of ways to go at it, but no matter what, you are a symbol of the subject in the students’ minds.”

He ditched the established curriculum and created his own, including hand-crafting his own beautiful textbooks.

Once you’ve got your students excited, then you can get them interested in the details. 

He also has some brilliant things to say about the important of discomfort in magic and in education:

“When I go outside at night and look up at the stars, the feeling that I get is not comfort. The feeling that I get is a kind of delicious discomfort at knowing that there is so much out there that I do not understand and the joy in recognizing that there is enormous mystery, which is not a comfortable thing. This, I think, is the principal gift of education.”

It’s a fairly short article and well worth your time.

(Also posted at creativefacilitation.com)

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