The expert at the lunch table

A British psychology professor and magician has called for adding magic classes to the national education curriculum:

Pupils should be taught “mind reading” card tricks and how to rejoin the ends of a magic rope after it has been cut in two, it was claimed.

Richard Wiseman, professor of psychology at Hertfordshire University, introduced the lessons to two groups of 10 to 12-year-olds as part of a study.

He insisted the classes improved pupils’ social skills and confidence levels and is now calling on them to be introduced in all schools.

Prof Wiseman, who is also a skilled illusionist and member of the Magic Circle, said they were more effective then standard classes in personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), which are designed to help children deal responsibly with life issues such as drugs and sex…

Fifty pupils at two schools were given hour-long “Magic School” sessions as well as their normal PSHE classes. They were then given standard psychological tests.

Confidence and self esteem scores measured before and after the lessons showed that magic had a significantly greater benefit than PSHE, said Prof Wiseman.

Actually, this doesn’t strike me as a bad idea, especially if it’s replacing limited amounts time that would otherwise be spent on PSHE activities that are likely fairly worthless on the margin. Lots of magicians first got into the art to improve their social skills and confidence. (Not me, of course. You know, other magicians.) My guess is spending time learning any practical skill, not just magic, would have similar results. Magic has the advantage though of offering some immediate payoffs in the form of simple, introductory tricks. I do wonder how much teachers need to know going in.

[Title reference here. Via iTricks.]

Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    Problem with teaching magic is that it’s an arms race. Learning magic is most useful if just one or a few people learn it. If everyone does, it isn’t impressive anymore, and everyone is only slightly more fun. On the other hand, perhaps people who know magic enjoy other people’s magic more…

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