In my previous post, I shared how to do the educational 21-Card Trick. In this post, I’ll detail how, with some creativity, we can use magic to educate.
“Creativity is the greatest gift of human intelligence. The more complex the world becomes, the more creative we need to be to meet its challenges.” – Sir Ken Robinson
Creativity is one way we can encourage the increasingly recognised skill of higher order thinking. A big part of being creative is looking for new ways of doing things within whatever activity you’re involved in. For me, this ‘new way’ is magic. Magic is the creative tool I use to create exciting learning experiences that bring together knowledge, understanding and real-life applications.
I want to share with you an example of my creative thought process in developing an educational workshop using magic and how I inject some creativity along the way to bring my message across effectively.
Magic for Teaching: The Process in a NutshellThe first thing I do is create a simple definition of the problem. I then make meaning from that description and find a trick that could be the method or means for the learning experience. The learning outcomes and lesson plan could then be constructed. To illustrate the process, let me share how I made a show about cyber bullying. The process went like this:
1. Define Cyber Bullying
As mentioned, I first defined the topic. Cyber bullying is the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages or pictures of an intimidating or threatening nature.
2. Make Meaning from Direct Experience
Next, I thought of a fresh way to make meaning out of the topic. This is where some creativity came into use.
To make the meaning making process easier to understand and appreciate, watch the original version of the trick Carry on Conjuring that I chose for the anti-cyber bullying workshop:
How did I use this magic trick to communicate an educational message about cyber bullying? You see in this magic trick, we thought that we had a free choice, but actually we did not.
It is the same thing when you send photographs online. It is your choice to send the pictures, but once you do, you have lost control over how they can be used or distributed.
3. Make the Trick More Relevant
In the example cited, the first thing I did was change the playing cards into picture cards. I did this for two reasons. First, this helped the trick NOT to be seen as a card trick. Second, by using pictures of famous people for the particular age group, the trick became more engaging and interesting. I then laminated the pictures so that I could draw on them (the selected picture and duplicate), and then after the workshop, I could wipe the drawing off and reuse the props.
Now instead of a card prediction, I had an envelope with a duplicate picture of the person that would be selected. I drew a fake mustache and glasses onto this picture. This photo was put to one side until the revelation at the end.
After my volunteer had selected their picture (using the same method demonstrated in the video), I then said that wouldn’t it be funny if we drew a fake moustache and glasses on that celebrity. (I think I used Harry Styles from One Direction.) I then placed their selection into a clear poly pocket to demonstrate the “uploading picture process” before revealing the “copied and shared” version that was in the envelope.
It was effective. The self-working magic trick that I modified to make it more engaging for my audience highlighted a main point of the workshop effectively: when we upload a picture to the Internet, we have lost control over that picture. (Also, defacing a picture is not cool and can be very nasty!)
Learning over a Range of ContextsThough the above trick is the main vehicle I use to bring across the message I wish to communicate, it’s just a part of a more elaborate, richer program.
Get the teaching resource at www.flummix.com to see what I mean and get your copy of the complete program.
When you look over the program, you will see that the lesson is supported with learning outcomes. The kids are given the opportunity to actually learn and perform the trick (this is loads of fun for them), grasp the maths behind it, simulate the process using Lego (as seen in the video from the first article about the usefulness of educational magic today and also described in the 21-Card Trick article), and use dictionaries to define relevant terminology for Internet safety. An extended task could be the creation of a video to document the students’ learning experiences.
Hopefully you find value in this lesson and see how, with a bit of creativity and imagination, you can adapt simple card tricks to suit your audience and make meaning from direct experience. Not that I am biased or anything, but I believe that creative learning is magic.