Monday 24 July 2017

Improving pupils' speaking and listening skills is just magic, says head

Magic can help with dexterity and in learning skills such as co-ordination and presentation, as well as boosting confidence in public speaking
Magic can help with dexterity and in learning skills such as co-ordination and presentation, as well as boosting confidence in public speaking

It may seem like it would only be of use to pupils at Hogwarts, but teaching children magic could help with their education, it has been suggested.

Teaching youngsters magic tricks in the classroom can help build their confidence and improve their speaking and listening, according to a small group of magicians and head teachers.

Sally Quirk, head of St John's CE Primary in Sevenoaks, Kent, said magic workshops at her school had helped pupils learn to communicate well with others.

"I had read about the way in which magic can involve speaking and listening skills, which is something we are very keen to promote," she said, adding that magic gives pupils the "the perfect opportunity to speak out loud".

Mrs Quirk said: "Each group were taught how to speak in front of and engage an audience, and were also taught a trick. They then performed it for each other and then to other classes."

As well as helping with speaking and listening skills, the workshops helped to develop pupils' confidence as well as getting classes to work together and bond.

Teachers spoke to children afterwards about what they had learned, Mrs Quirk said, and suggested that other educational elements could be introduced, such as writing an instruction manual to teach other youngsters a trick.

She said other schools should consider using magic.

Rubens Filho of Abracademy, which runs magic workshops, said: "Speaking and listening, a major part of the national curriculum in primary and secondary schools, are both areas magic can enhance since it requires self-discipline, presentation, storytelling and an ability to empathise with your audience, as you think how the trick looks from another person's perspective.

"All these skills are more likely to be taken on board by a child if they have a purpose behind doing it, like performing a trick. As a result, their confidence and self-esteem is boosted."

Gustav Kuhn, a reader in psychology at Goldsmiths University said there is potential to use magic in schools.

"People find magic very interesting and engaging and it could be used as an effective teaching tool," he said.

Magic can help with dexterity and in learning skills such as co-ordination and presentation, as well as boosting confidence in public speaking, Dr Kuhn said, but research is needed to evaluate the impact on schoolchildren.

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