Entertainment In The Classroom
I recently read an article in The Atlantic about magician Teller, from Penn and Teller. In the article, Teller talks about (yes he talks) entertainment in the classroom. I found it very interesting. In my last post I wrote about using entertainment in the boardroom. The classroom is even more important!
To read the full article, click HERE.
Teller says in the article, “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.”
The teacher being a symbol of the subject is intriguing. It’s like in my business, I am the product I sell. Without me, there would be no Richard The Magician. In many ways, without the teacher, the subject is meaningless for the student. They won’t care if the teacher doesn’t care.
Using entertainment in the classroom is how teachers could captivate their students. Many of my clients are teachers and librarians. They have told me stories of how they’ve used entertainment in the classroom. One of them used the “magic coloringbook” when teaching her kids to read. The “magic coloringbook” is a trick where an empty coloringbook becomes full of images.
If you are a teacher, here are a 3 ideas that will help you put entertainment in the classroom.
- The Sound And Motion Game: Have all the kids stand in a circle. You are to make a sound and motion, and they are to copy you exactly. Once everyone is making the same sound and motion, change it up. After a couple of rounds of this, leave the circle, but have them keep playing. Tell them, “when I tap your shoulder, it is your turn to change the sound and motion.” Go around and start tapping shoulders. Remember, everyone has to do what the leader is doing before you move on. This game teaches leadership, listening, teamwork, and so on. I have played this game with children and adults. Both love it! You can apply the lessons from the game to the classroom. In order for the game to continue, everyone has to play along. Everyone has to contribute. You have to take the lead when it starts your turn. It is just like in the classroom. The class can’t move on until everyone is playing along.
- Set The Scene: There are many ways to engage an audience. It’s all about activating their imaginations. You don’t need a big set for this. Something very small and subtle can evoke an image in their minds. Their imaginations will take care of the rest. Music is one of the simplest ways to do this. A little Renaissance style music while reading Shakespeare can go a long way.
- Make’em Laugh: Humor is the best way to make people remember something. They will want to remember so they can share the story with their friends. Don’t be afraid to look a little foolish. The hard part is balancing humor and discipline. You can make them laugh, but they need to know you are still in charge.
I knew a math teacher who would teach the kids tricks with numbers. My high-school theater teacher combined funds with the English department. They would bring in an actor who created a one-man Shakespeare show. Other schools have hired me to come in and teach about a subject using magic.
Entertainment in the classroom is essential. What are some other ideas you think would engage students? Have you tried any of the things I’ve mentioned? Please leave your response in the comments.