By Teachers, For Teachers
Brian Daniels is the man behind Teach by Magic, a website that provides videos and how-to steps for teachers who want to add some magical pizazz to their lessons.
Brian fills us in on his experience as a magician, how Teach by Magic helps teachers and what tricks your students will LOVE.
How did you come to learn about magic?
My first experience with magic was when a magician came and performed at my elementary school. I was in first grade and I can still remember many of the tricks he did.
I thought it would be neat to be a magician when I grew up but figured you must be born with special magical powers. Later that summer, I saw my cousin doing some magic tricks and I knew he was not special so I went to the library and began learning magic. I have been performing ever since (about 25 years).
Do you have experience as a teacher? What is that experience?
I do not have classroom experience as an educator, but I have worked with students of all age groups in other situations such as scouting, Sunday School, and educational assemblies for elementary schools.
Why is magic a good tool for classroom teachers?
I believe strongly that the key to effective learning is caring. When a student cares about a subject and wants to learn, he or she will listen and retain the information not to pass a test but because they are curious about it. Magic is a GREAT way to create interest and wonder.
What is your favorite trick?
Wow, that is like asking a painter what his favorite color is. It really depends on the day and the situation.
My favorite magic trick I ever saw was David Copperfield appearing in an empty elevator at the beginning of a live show in my hometown when I was a young boy. I was so excited to see him and it was pure magic.
My favorite trick to perform for others is a trick where two linked rubber bands melt apart.
What is your most educational trick?
These just keep getting harder and harder. Some tricks have more applications than others. For example walking through postcard can be used to talk about: recycling, diameter, creativity, foreign countries, astronomy and the list goes on but it is always an object lesson where a comparison is being made as a visual aid that is interesting.
But the Instant Star, while not as versatile of a trick, is really amazing and the science learned in it is what actually makes the trick work. The real answer to this question is kinda corny but true. The most educational trick is the one I am working on that day because it is always a learning process for me as I work with teachers.
How did the Teach by Magic business come about?
A few years ago, a teacher asked me to show her a few tricks she could do in the classroom to get here students attention the way I just had. The next week she came back for more and that is when I realized that there was a need for a comprehensive resource of tricks, puzzles, and brainteasers for teachers.
What has your response been from educators and administrators as you introduce this unique approach to instruction?
Honestly the feedback has been incredible. There has been a lot of buzz lately about the need to get students attention and teachers are telling us this is just the thing they have been looking for. We have been invited to do workshops in many schools and at conferences and the excitement surrounding the project is very encouraging.
What is your response to critics who might say this is a waste of valuable instruction time?
My best teachers were the ones that “stopped to sharpen the saw” as the old story goes. I’m afraid the teachers that don’t “have time” for warm up activities, attention-getters and visual aids are working harder not smarter.
But I don’t think it is my place to make those judgments. I have a lot of respect for teachers and I know it is a tough job and many times incredibly under-appreciated. I am not here to tell teachers how to do their jobs at all I am just wanting to offer an aid for teachers that feel like they could benefit from it. But again speaking from personal experience, I learned the most from the teachers that were fun and interesting not the ones that covered the most material.
Would you use magic in your classroom? Share ideas and attention-grabbing tricks in the comments section!