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Tim Zager
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I'm somewhat new to the Elementary School market and I am looking for tips on "packaging" my theme show. I interviewed approximately 20 school principals to determine what educators feel is important...the hot topics seem to be reading and math skills (at least in my market). So I designed a show for the Elementary school market that touches on both.

Here's where I'm having difficulty... I hear differing views on how to sell/market the show. Some tell me it's best to have two shows prepared - one for grades K-3 and another for grades 4-6. Same message content, but different presentation.

Others tell me it's easier to sell ONE show that covers grades K-6. I can see pros and cons for each side.

Any thoughts?

Tim
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kenscott
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I have been doing the schools for 5 years now. I have to say reading is one of the most liked by the teachers.

One show for the elem is enough. Two shows k-3 4-6. Second show change the content alittle to fit the ages.

Another thing you need is a worksheet guide for the teachers. This is a booklet about your show that they can use back in class for continued talks.

Also, at the end of your show do something to get the students guiet and claim. The hardest thing teachers say about programs is getting the students claimed down for class. Most presenters have a loud ending leaving the students very excited and loud.

Have fun
Ken Scott
tboehnlein
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I am starting to enlarge my marketing to the school market also & based on past experience I am developing 3 programs a)k-3,b)4-6 & c)7-8.
Andy Wonder
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tboehnlein

I'm not familiar with the US system. Do those figures represent the age of the students or the number of years they have been at school.

Where I live there are a lot of small schools with less than 200 students. With these I usually perform the whole school in one show. The ages can range from 5 to 12 years, but are usually ages 5 to 10. I find performing for 10 year olds a lot different than 5 year olds.

I change the humour in my show to match the age group. I also go into more depth with the older children which is why my show is about 10 minutes longer if I have just senior kids students.

http://www.LearningMagic.org
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
Dennis Michael
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Andrew,

They represent grade levels:

  • Kindergarten (4-5 year olds)
  • First to Third Grade (5-9 year olds)
  • Fourth to Sixth Grade (9-12 year olds)
  • Seventh and Eight Grade (12-14 Year Olds and considered Junior High School in some areas...6th to 9th grade)

Based on this it is obvious why age and grades are important in developing shows. Educational safety shows for the younger crowd would be different than for the Junior High crowd.

Some tricks like the Professor's Nightmare and 20th Century Silks can cross multiple levels, however, Barnyard Folics would not go well with preteens and teens mooing and oinking like cows and pigs.

Ideally, since we are discussing school shows, standard magic shows can cross all barriers if designed to do so. Now educators and in some states require assembly programs to be educational and magic does not fall into this category. Except for the use of magic to deliver an educational message.

Ken Scott is correct related to schools. Develop a 30 minute program with a single educational message to be delivered. Give the teachers a guide book with activities related to the age group to reinforce the message. In that guide book, have questions the teachers can ask the kids related to the message. Coloring pages and caricatures related to you and the topic can be one form of activity.

By the way, these show do command a higher fee than the standard magic act.
Dennis Michael
magicsiow
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Are there any books detail related with teachers guide books? how n what do your fit into guide book?

TS
KyletheGreat
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I do several themed shows and one flat out "Magic fun Show" for elementary schools.

Themed shows are really popular for schools, especially when a positive message is offered through the show.

They are all offered in my business packet that is sent to elementary schools. My elementary show is 45 minutes though. Several performers tell me that I am crazy for running it that long, but the schools seem to enjoy it and I have pulled many repeat bookings. SO, I stick with it. I think that it is okay to run a show a little longer than 30 minutes if you can keep the crowds attention. To me, 30 minutes is not long enough. It is like "Ooooh a Magician!!!!...what...its already over!!!...AWWWWW!!!"
Kyle Jarrard
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Mark Tripp
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First, this is the field where I make 99% of my income.

Second, I have seen magician's sell math shows to schools then claim to teach fractions as they do zig zag!

Lets just say that is a bad idea.

IF, and lets foucs on that if, you have sold the show as educational, you'd better be teaching them. Yes, the kids are important, but the teachers are the real feed back, and they will see right through "a magic show in drag."

Now, the say no shows, and the reading shows, and the character shows, magic is fine. Math or Science, THAT you really have to teach them.

It only took me 30 years to learn that.

As to the show time, again, I have done this a long time.

You write the show for 30 minutes. You have another 10 to 15 minutes of "business" you can do. Your problem will be that 90% of schools DO NOT get the kids in on time. A 9 am show will begin at 9:10. If you did 45 minutes you will mess up the entire day. My contract makes it clear that the show will end on time. So a 9 am show, NO MATTER WHEN THEY ARE READY, ends at 9:45.

If they are on time, I give them the business. If they are late, they get less business....

...yes I am using a bit of a play on words. But the point is sound.
James Munton
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Tim,

Quote:
...hot topics seem to be reading and math skills (at least in my market). So I designed a show for the Elementary school market that touches on both.


I would choose a single theme - Math OR Reading - for each show you market. Trying to incorporate both subjects in a single show is more difficult to market and almost impossible to do effectively.

Quote:
Some tell me it's best to have two shows prepared - one for grades K-3 and another for grades 4-6. Same message content, but different presentation.

Others tell me it's easier to sell ONE show that covers grades K-6.


I don't think it is "easier" to sell one show or two. It depends on the school's needs which depends on their size and budget.

I tell the school that if they can afford two shows it's better because I can vary the content for the older kids. But if they only want a single show it's no problem because I can mix into the program educational content that appeals to all the different ages.

You can do virtually the same show, but just change what you say.

For example, take the vanishing beer bottle to teach alcohol abuse. For the younger kids you can provide a basic "drinking beer when you are a kid is bad because it stops you growing into a smart and healthy adult" message. For the older kids you can do the same trick, but be more graphic about the dangers and perhaps talk about peer pressure or other topics more relevant to the 4-6th graders.

The reason why I and many other magicians choose a reading theme is because a motivational type show is more appropriate for an assembly program. We are not there to replace the teachers.

Let's face it, how much can you really teach about a subject to 300 kids from a stage in 45 minutes? Also, there is no way you can teach a subject like math to both Kindergartners and 5th graders at the same time - they are at totally different stages.

What you CAN do is support the teachers by getting the kids excited about the subject and increase their desire to learn.

By the way, I do a 45-minute show like Kyle the Great. I have a reading-themed show and a regular show. For daytime assemblies, I mainly get asked to do the reading show. The regular show is more popular for family evenings.

The reading-theme market is crowded however. Everyone is doing it!

Best,
James
Gideon Sylvan
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Quote:
On 2005-07-06 14:20, KyletheGreat wrote:
I do several themed shows and one flat out "Magic fun Show" for elementary schools.

Themed shows are really popular for schools, especially when a positive message is offered through the show.

They are all offered in my business packet that is sent to elementary schools. My elementary show is 45 minutes though. Several performers tell me that I am crazy for running it that long, but the schools seem to enjoy it and I have pulled many repeat bookings. SO, I stick with it. I think that it is okay to run a show a little longer than 30 minutes if you can keep the crowds attention. To me, 30 minutes is not long enough. It is like "Ooooh a Magician!!!!...what...its already over!!!...AWWWWW!!!"


Kyle arn't you 17? How do you go to schools if you are in school at the same hours? I face the same problem, so I see no real way of doing school shows.
You know you are a magician when you have boxes full of lecture notes you have never read, but still are excited about going out and buying more.

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John C
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Quote:

What you CAN do is support the teachers by getting the kids excited about the subject and increase their desire to learn.



This is the key here. "getting kids excited about your show theme" For example, in a reading show you aren't there to "teach" reading. You are there to get kids EXCITED about reading.

Teachers do the teaching. We get kids in the mood for wanting to learn.

John
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KyletheGreat
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Quote:
On 2005-07-07 07:09, SwissKid 52 wrote:
Quote:
On 2005-07-06 14:20, KyletheGreat wrote:
I do several themed shows and one flat out "Magic fun Show" for elementary schools.

Themed shows are really popular for schools, especially when a positive message is offered through the show.

They are all offered in my business packet that is sent to elementary schools. My elementary show is 45 minutes though. Several performers tell me that I am crazy for running it that long, but the schools seem to enjoy it and I have pulled many repeat bookings. SO, I stick with it. I think that it is okay to run a show a little longer than 30 minutes if you can keep the crowds attention. To me, 30 minutes is not long enough. It is like "Ooooh a Magician!!!!...what...its already over!!!...AWWWWW!!!"


Kyle arn't you 17? How do you go to schools if you are in school at the same hours? I face the same problem, so I see no real way of doing school shows.


Yes I am indeed 17. I do MANY school assembly shows for schools that are out of my district. I am now a senior in high school so I cannot miss much of my own. Now, the days that my school is out for teacher work days, spring break, hollidays, etc... Is when I go to other schools and perform because they are always on a different schedule than me. So I send business packets to schools, and when they call me, I tell them what days I have availible and we make an arrangement. This works really well and keeps me from missing school (except for one show that I had to get approved by the board to perform). I usually hit several schools in each of those days.

You to can do the same if you put forth some effort and arrange yourself a good, professional business packet to send out. Or you could just call schools and tell them what you offer (I do not prefer this myself, because it does not seem too professional.
Kyle Jarrard
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sluggo
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What about school safety shows? I am currently putting together two such shows.
1- Fire Safety
2- Child Abduction prevention
Are these popular type shows schools are interested in?
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The Great Smartini
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Schools will have improvement plans and those will be related to items such as literacy, numeracy, sense of belonging/community and so on...find out what the school is focussing on and target your show to meet this need

as an educator I can't reinforce the point previously made about having something that has some educational value...if your show doesn't then don't expect to get rebooked...getting them excited about a topic ie. literacy would qualify...let the teachers teach-trust me it's much more difficult than it looks-my background gives me a big heads up on my local competitors because I'm trained as a primary educator and have a graduate degree in education where my research topic was the use of magic in the classroom so I can say without any reservation that my literacy show teaches literacy skills

I would avoid fire safety and child abduction as this is just not an area to be doing magic with...i think it sends the wrong message...magic isn't reality and when you combine it with such a serious topic the message is inconsistent...a serious topic needs a serious approach and tone...magicians at school = fun and this should in no way be connected with the topics in question...that being said I know people out there who are doing it (not so much in canada)...i don't know sluggo's show but a puppet/vent thing might be workable versus a straight magic act
Donald Dunphy
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Quote:
On 2005-07-08 01:01, The Great Smartini wrote:
I would avoid fire safety and child abduction as this is just not an area to be doing magic with...i think it sends the wrong message...magic isn't reality and when you combine it with such a serious topic the message is inconsistent...a serious topic needs a serious approach and tone...magicians at school = fun and this should in no way be connected with the topics in question...that being said I know people out there who are doing it (not so much in canada)...i don't know sluggo's show but a puppet/vent thing might be workable versus a straight magic act


I don't know if I wholly agree with the statement that "magic isn't reality and when you combine it with such a serious topic the message is inconsistent...a serious topic needs a serious approach and tone".

The reason I say that, is because I also do gospel magic shows (among my repetoire), which have a serious message, but use comedy as well as message along with the magic. Yes, I also do educational school shows (reading and one other).

Care to clarify, defend or expand on your position / opinion, Jeff? Smile

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
KyletheGreat
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Quote:
On 2005-07-07 23:33, sluggo wrote:
What about school safety shows? I am currently putting together two such shows.
1- Fire Safety
2- Child Abduction prevention
Are these popular type shows schools are interested in?


I do not know about fire safety, but as far as CHild Abduction goes...YES!!!

In my Drug Awareness show, I do several Child abduction routines as well. This teaches children to say no to strangers. I got one of the routines out of Ron COnnley's book titled "Say No Show". The routine is really good and involves great explaining using a silk marked "You" . The performer talks about the silk representing "You" meaning every individual in the crowd. Then it is put into a strangers car, and the car dissappears and reappears on the corner of the stage under a traffic cone with the silk still in it. THroughout the routine you talk about how strangers can take you to any place and how strangers come in different shapes and sizes. You also define what a stranger is and what can happen if you talk to/ go somewhere with a stranger.

Hard to explain briefly, but it is a very good routine and well worth the price of the book just for that one. (the rest of the book comes in handy as well)

The teachers always compliment that routine and the kids always get a message out of it. So yes, I think a Child Abdutcion show would be grand.
Kyle Jarrard
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The Great Smartini
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For kyle...

child abduction education is something that requires a trained professional to present and to properly and effectively field questions...with all due respect because there is a routine and that it has received compliments from teachers still doesn't make it an appropriate routine...my question to kyle would how does he know that kids actually get the message out of it?...the sparse anecdotal evidence provided in no way shape or form demonstrates that the prescribed learning outcomes have been achieved...to me this is educational magic of the absolute worst kind and has the potential to do the most damage...stay away from things that you don't have an expertise particularly when you consider the consequences...the routine you describe where a silk is equated with a child or a stranger is sheer nonsense

Quote:
On 2005-07-08 01:06, Donald Dunphy wrote:
Quote:
On 2005-07-08 01:01, The Great Smartini wrote:
I would avoid fire safety and child abduction as this is just not an area to be doing magic with...i think it sends the wrong message...magic isn't reality and when you combine it with such a serious topic the message is inconsistent...a serious topic needs a serious approach and tone...magicians at school = fun and this should in no way be connected with the topics in question...that being said I know people out there who are doing it (not so much in canada)...i don't know sluggo's show but a puppet/vent thing might be workable versus a straight magic act


I don't know if I wholly agree with the statement that "magic isn't reality and when you combine it with such a serious topic the message is inconsistent...a serious topic needs a serious approach and tone".

The reason I say that, is because I also do gospel magic shows (among my repetoire), which have a serious message, but use comedy as well as message along with the magic. Yes, I also do educational school shows (reading and one other).

Care to clarify, defend or expand on your position / opinion, Jeff? Smile

- Donald


Donald,

you pose more of a philosophical question...without meaning to insult your beliefs I will do my best to outline my position...gospel magic is something that deals with beliefs and ways of life...this is in contrast to a personal safety lesson where a stranger may abduct/hurt a child which transcends all religious beliefs...if your message isn't received the child, one might argue, suffers spiritually but not physically...i also do religious magic with the children of the synagogue that I attend...i hope this clarifies things for you but I'd be happy to continue to have further dialogue on this...i just have a strong opinion about so called "educational magic" which usually is anything but educational and usually at best has a sheer veneer of educational worth which could be accomplished much more effectively using a different teaching plan
James Munton
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Smartini, I disagree.

Quote:
child abduction education is something that requires a trained professional to present and to properly and effectively field questions...


So are you really suggesting that parents shouldn't provide their own kids with basic safety advice until they have received professional training?

Here's what you can tell kids, "Don't speak to strangers and never get in a car with someone you don't know." Now why would I need special training to tell a child that?

We are not talking about giving a child psychotherapy. Just basic safety advice!

Quote:
...so called "educational magic" which usually is anything but educational and usually at best has a sheer veneer of educational worth which could be accomplished much more effectively using a different teaching plan


Our job as school performers is not to replace the teacher, but to reinforce what the kids are learning in the classroom. I do a reading show. I don't actually teach the kids to read!!!

Quote:
to me this is educational magic of the absolute worst kind and has the potential to do the most damage...stay away from things that you don't have an expertise particularly when you consider the consequences...


So Kyle does a "Just Say No" show. Perhaps Smartini could explain the potential for damage of telling a child that cigarettes are harmful or to look both ways before crossing a street!!! I don't have any professional training so maybe I am missing something.

If anything, I think kids are more likely to listen to 17 year-old Kyle than a boring healthcare professional who has no experience of performing on stage.

Quote:
..the routine you describe where a silk is equated with a child or a stranger is sheer nonsense.


Seems like a good routine to me!

Best,
James

P.S. Smartini, I don't intend to offend - just spirited debate!
KyletheGreat
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James,

I agree

Thank you, and you are correct, the routine with the silk and the car is a really good routine. It is one of the best Child abduction routines I have ever seen, and it is neat the way you illistrate what is happening in the case scenario by using magic. I commend ROn COnnley for his creativeness of that particular routine!

As for the great smartini,

I do not believe it takes a trained professional to teach a message like that if it is taught with seriousness (that goes for all lessons INCLUDING GOSPEL MAGIC) You would not have to be a minister or preacher to spread the Holy word of God!. The entire presentation is done through extensive detail, and statistics. Throughout the show, the magic word it "No". The kids are taught the four steps of saying no, and at the end they are tested. After the show, handouts are given to the teachers to give the children in class. I have recieved many thank you letters from parents telling me what a great lesson I taught there child.

One of the most important parts of the program is making it clear to the students what a stranger is. The performer even states that he/she is a stranger. A stranger is not someone you just don't know...it can be somebody you don't know well.

Pretty much...you do what you can do, and I will do what I can do! If you cannot teach through magic, then DON'T. But as long as I know that I can, then I will.

THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I KNOW MY SHOW WAS EFFECTIVE:

2 weeks after one of the say no shows, there was a man accross the street from the school playground. He was taking pictures and trying to talk to the kids. The children immediately ran to the teacher and refused to talk to the man (just as I had taught them). The teachers then called the police and the man was arrested. Then there was an ivestigation. As it turns out, the man hosts a child pornography web site and his computer was full of photos of children. The chilren who ran to the teachers were asked how they knew what to do, and they responded "Because the magician told us to say NO then Get Away and TELL somebody"!!!I immediately was called by the school and thanked for my presentation. I think that this event is absolute proof that the children learn from my show.

THink about that for a little while Senor Smartini!!
Kyle Jarrard
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http://www.hypnobilly.com
The Great Smartini
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Quote:
On 2005-07-09 09:13, James Munton wrote:
Smartini, I disagree.

Quote:
child abduction education is something that requires a trained professional to present and to properly and effectively field questions...


So are you really suggesting that parents shouldn't provide their own kids with basic safety advice until they have received professional training?

not saying this at all...what I'm saying is that would you want a trained professional or someone who has purchased a show in a box?...the key to this scenario is that the people talking to the child know the child (the parents or teacher) and are best able to communicate with them

Here's what you can tell kids, "Don't speak to strangers and never get in a car with someone you don't know." Now why would I need special training to tell a child that?


the message is inconsistent because the manner in which it is being presented doesn't reinforce or underscore the importance of the message...do you want to take chances that the message might get misinterpreted?...things aren't as simple as people like Barbara Bush would have us think "just say no" and everything will be okay...when it comes to child safety the message needs to be carefully presented by a trained professional who is able to field questions and debrief any issues that might arise


We are not talking about giving a child psychotherapy. Just basic safety advice!

if the information is so "basic" why do they need a 17 year old magician to present it?

Quote:
...so called "educational magic" which usually is anything but educational and usually at best has a sheer veneer of educational worth which could be accomplished much more effectively using a different teaching plan


Our job as school performers is not to replace the teacher, but to reinforce what the kids are learning in the classroom. I do a reading show. I don't actually teach the kids to read!!!

Quote:
to me this is educational magic of the absolute worst kind and has the potential to do the most damage...stay away from things that you don't have an expertise particularly when you consider the consequences...


I stand by my comment...what schools need are shows/presentation that have a solid educational component...if your show doesn't have this then the school isn't getting a good return on their educational investment and can achieve the desired effect without paying good money to you

So Kyle does a "Just Say No" show. Perhaps Smartini could explain the potential for damage of telling a child that cigarettes are harmful or to look both ways before crossing a street!!! I don't have any professional training so maybe I am missing something.

yes...teaching always appears easy to people who haven't actually tried it...it only takes a student teacher about 20 minutes on their own to realize that teaching isn't as easy as it looks...when I hear this comment I know that I'm talking to someone who doesn't have a real understanding of education and what schools do

If anything, I think kids are more likely to listen to 17 year-old Kyle than a boring healthcare professional who has no experience of performing on stage.

possibly but that doesn't mean the 17 year old has something that is educational

Quote:
..the routine you describe where a silk is equated with a child or a stranger is sheer nonsense.


Seems like a good routine to me!

we're trying to teach about reality and to do so we use a scenario that isn't real...think about it...what's pretend and what's real how does the child know where to draw the line?

Best,
James

P.S. Smartini, I don't intend to offend - just spirited debate!


debate is good, spirited or otherwise...trust me when I tell you that there's a reason that teachers attend university for 5 1/2 years in canada...the problem arises because we've all been to school and had the experience but that doesn't make us an expert on the topic anymore than someone who has had heart surgery having the qualifications to be a doctor or surgeon

Quote:
On 2005-07-09 09:59, KyletheGreat wrote:
James,

I agree

Thank you, and you are correct, the routine with the silk and the car is a really good routine. It is one of the best Child abduction routines I have ever seen, and it is neat the way you illistrate what is happening in the case scenario by using magic. I commend ROn COnnley for his creativeness of that particular routine!

As for the great smartini,

I do not believe it takes a trained professional to teach a message like that if it is taught with seriousness (that goes for all lessons INCLUDING GOSPEL MAGIC) You would not have to be a minister or preacher to spread the Holy word of God!. The entire presentation is done through extensive detail, and statistics. Throughout the show, the magic word it "No". The kids are taught the four steps of saying no, and at the end they are tested. After the show, handouts are given to the teachers to give the children in class. I have recieved many thank you letters from parents telling me what a great lesson I taught there child.



One of the most important parts of the program is making it clear to the students what a stranger is. The performer even states that he/she is a stranger. A stranger is not someone you just don't know...it can be somebody you don't know well.

Pretty much...you do what you can do, and I will do what I can do! If you cannot teach through magic, then DON'T. But as long as I know that I can, then I will.

THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I KNOW MY SHOW WAS EFFECTIVE:

2 weeks after one of the say no shows, there was a man accross the street from the school playground. He was taking pictures and trying to talk to the kids. The children immediately ran to the teacher and refused to talk to the man (just as I had taught them). The teachers then called the police and the man was arrested. Then there was an ivestigation. As it turns out, the man hosts a child pornography web site and his computer was full of photos of children. The chilren who ran to the teachers were asked how they knew what to do, and they responded "Because the magician told us to say NO then Get Away and TELL somebody"!!!I immediately was called by the school and thanked for my presentation. I think that this event is absolute proof that the children learn from my show.

THink about that for a little while Senor Smartini!!


your wording reminds me of the quote about a teenager who thinks that his father is an idiot...ten years later he's asked about his father and the grown man is able to say that his dad has certainly learned a lot in the last ten years...sound familiar?

so I thought about your scenario...and it doesn't qualify as absolute proof...I believe your scenario sounds like fortunate timing...somehow I can't believe that you were the only person that has ever told these kids to "not talk to strangers and to tell an adult"...if this is the case then the parents/school system where you did this show is extremely lacking to say the least...you may have been the most recent or memorable but certainly not the only one and so the children would have done exactly the same thing without your visit...what this means is that the money spent was unnecessary from an educational stand point because what "taught" wasn't really taught but in fact already learned behaviour...if I give a test to a group of students and they already know the material, even without me teaching them, then the time/effort is wasted since they already knew the topic...the usual scenario is often the reverse where the teacher tests them but doesn't actually spend the time to teach them the material...i do a public speaking unit and I don't actually teach them how to research a topic, write a convincing speech, outline/practice/give opportunity for feedback on how to present a speech and then in the end give them a mark on their speech...again not sound education but it happens all the time...my point is the same for much of the junk that is presented as educational magic
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