Showing and teaching the children magic tricks encourages skills, such as self-discipline – unless you practice magic skills you will fail – and critical thinking. It also helps children to think from another person’s perspective, and consider how they are feeling.
Wiseman, who is based at the University of Hertfordshire, reports an experiment he conducted in cooperation with two Hertfordshire schools, JFK school and the Wroxham School in Potter’s Bar, in which children aged 10 to 12 were taught magic instead of the standard curriculum of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). The magic lessons involved teaching them how to perform two simple tricks and encouraging them to practise them on friends and family. Teachers rated the children as “more sociable confident” after magic lessons, and the lessons were also very popular with the children.
I’m particularly interested by the potential to introduce habits of critical thought at such a young age. A child who knows how to do seemingly impossible things using quite simple and easily taught deceptive techniques, and who has experience of watching the thought processes of other people while they view a magic trick, is better equipped for evaluating the seductive claims of con-men, religions, paranormalists, ufologists and the like.
- Teach magic lessons at school, says professor, The Guardian, September 12, 2008