Thursday, 9 June 2016

I would #lovetolearn Magic

The Festival of Learning used to be Adult learners week - its a celebration of lifelong learning and as an adult life-long teacher and learner I encourage everyone to reconnect with the joy of learning we once knew as children ... before it was drilled out of us in the name of exam performance and quality control during our years in compulsory education.

Magic is very special - it is human, social, practical and has a wow factor .. its cool ... if only the education system were like this. Magic exists between people - you can't do magic on your own, to computers, to animals or just talk or write about it - seeing is believing ... or as is usually the case - disbelieving  - especially when you see close up street magic done by the likes of Dynamo.

Magic works because we are human - magicians are cognitive artists - rather than scientists. While Arthur C Clarke might argue that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", and a lot of magic involves technology, ultimately magic its an art and a social performance. For the time being at least I just can't imagine a robot performing magic. Managed learning environments, machines, computers and robots might have  technical prowess that we might marvel at but "a drum machine has no soul" - can they engage us in the same way a human might. 

As a lifelong teacher I'm aware that teaching is like magic - a socially constructed human cognitive art event. Take a look at Steve Wheeler's blog post "Just an illusion?" where he explores the nature of human perception with his students and uses a magic trick to encourage lateral thinking about problems and human nature. 

A robot teacher has no soul - it has no magic - can it engage and inspire like a human teacher ... human to human.

As a lifelong learner I like to feel the magic of learning - the excitement, curiosity, playfulness and wonder of learning like a child.

You might think that learning about magic might spoil it but that's not the case. Learning magic doesn't break the spell - being shown how its done is just as good as the trick itself (see David Blaine explain a trick) and understanding how and why it works is fascinating as are the reactions of people when they see magic. Every performance of magic is unique and not something for rigorous quality controlled standardisation - "the art is in the way you communicate the trick".

Magic is a celebration of humanity and I would #lovetolearn magic.

Its not surprising that magic isn't on the standard curriculum but you can learn it in the lifelong adult education ecosystem - search hot courses for example. You can of course learn magic from books, on-line (e.g. Rebel Magic) or searching Youtube.

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