• Why I recommend everyone should teach something

  • March 02, 2020

  • Whoever you are, and whatever you do, learning a skill of any kind is one of the best ways to improve yourself as a human being. Taking the time to break something down to its component parts and learn how to do it well, can be arduous, complicated and frustrating. On the other side of all that exasperation is a beautiful feeling of unshakeable self-confidence that can only come from excelling at something. However,

    “If you can’t explain it simply, you probably don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

    I love this quote, and I think it applies to all things. The reason I bring it up now is to tie my introductory paragraph to the title of this article. Teaching something to another person requires you know it so much better than you might think.

    Be ready to learn it better than you think you need to.

    Students have an incredible way of asking questions you have never heard before, and sometimes they find a way to get caught up and stuck on something that you never realised required an actual amount of thought process.

    Having to write a curriculum, lesson plans, to actually structure the transfer of knowledge and information from yourself to another human being can be a daunting prospect; especially when you consider that you may be starting from square one. I am currently going through this process myself. I want to create a step by step plan for my students to follow from knowing nothing to their first performance. It is taking a lot more work than I thought, but I love it because it is making me a better magician!

    You’re going to have to relearn everything you thought you knew.

    To teach anything, you do need to understand it every which way imaginable and be able to explain it simply to anyone.   The reason I’m repeating myself here is that the best way to be able to explain it simply is for you to relearn it yourself. There are plenty of moves, sleights and flourishes that I take for granted in my performances. It is often only when it comes to teaching those same moves that I realise that while my muscles know how to do them instinctively, I can’t actually explain how I’m doing them.

    Over the years, I have also changed how I execute certain moves and just the other day, I was teaching one such move to a student. It was only when I performed the move at full speed to show how it “should” look, that I realised that I didn’t perform it the way I had been taught, or even the way I had been teaching it! I now show both variations and allow the student to work with the one they find most suitable for themselves.

    Sharing really is caring.

    I first started teaching only a year or two into my “career” as a magician when I was still in Sydney, working with The Magician’s Cabaret. While there, we offered a “Magic Camp” for kids to learn magic. At first, I was relatively opposed to the whole process of trying to teach kids, rolling my eyes like a bolshie teenager, but I did it for the extra hours of work.

    However, the more time I spent teaching in those classes, the more I enjoyed it. There is something supremely enjoyable about taking someone through the process of learning. For me, I began to get hooked when you would show them a magical effect, and then you could walk them through the process of learning it. Teaching the move, the patter, how to think about the audience first and every other little element that goes into a fully-fledged effect; finally culminating in getting to see the once nervous student handle performing with confidence. It’s addictive!

    How can you get started in teaching?

    Now if you want to teach magic to someone else, this brings a few problems into the mix. After all, a magician should never reveal their secrets to a non-magician. So, as ever, it is time for me to drag a single blog post out as long as possible, so tomorrow I’ll talk about my thoughts and ideas as to how to get around this problem!

     

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