Matt the magic man is one such inspiring individual.
An extremely talented and entertaining magician he seeks to right one of the wrongs he witnessed in his days as a teacher.
Matt observed, as I’m sure many of us, as parents have observed, the education turn off, at a depressingly young age children succumb to peer pressure and consider themselves “too cool for school.”
From this observation Matt along with his business partner and fellow entertainer Tom developed a vision; to bring magic and variety education into all schools, and thereby encourage children to develop the skills they require for learning alongside developing coordination and motor skills.
Matt and Tom, under the banner of “Circus Education” quite simply go into schools and teach children to learn.
This isn’t like other circus programmes where children are left to play with a bunch of exciting and colourful circus equipment brought in by some eccentric looking individuals.
Matt doesn’t see Circus Education as a distraction from traditional classroom education but rather as a foundation for the development of learning skills.
There are a lot of under achieving children who have never experienced achievement and progression and therefore don’t attach any value to achieving or to the skills they need to achieve
Having been staggered by the lack of basic motor skills of some children, for example the inability to throw and catch a ball, Matt and Tom have put an education programme together drawing on the recognised framework of Building learning power. (BLP)
The framework for learning comprises the ingredients of:
It is interesting to note that these ingredients are essential for growth and development in many areas of work and life, perhaps we could all benefit from some circus education?!
Matt, using his framework doesn’t simply stand in front of the children and advise them to be more resilient, he doesn’t even use the words to explain the ingredients in his teaching, but rather demonstrates through circus skills how resilience, reciprocity, resourcefulness and reflectiveness can be developed.
The children learn skills such as juggling & plate spinning and even simple co- ordination & balance techniques.
In a short period of time they have visual evidence of progression and then gain an appetite for further progression.
Circus Education is available as a full 37week programme with visual evidence of development over the weeks, which importantly is communicated to the children.
The education programme is fundamentally about outcomes.
Simple things like how often a child performs are measured and there is a very small progression ladder for each skill, which encourages children to move forward.
Progression can be broken down into as many as 12 levels, which allows children to see and celebrate the smallest amount of development. A key component of Circus Education, included to build children’s confidence, is the “show off” session.
“Show off” sessions are used for children to demonstrate their learning, as the sessions progress more and more children come up to demonstrate, even though some of the children only learn a small amount they develop a desire to show off their progress.
Matthew and Tom are currently targeting their programmes for primary schools to instil the skill to learn as early as possible.
The critical part of the programme is that children develop the desire and want to achieve for themselves, there aren’t rewards for children, no sweets for good behaviour but rather the visual rewards of achievement.
Through the programme children learn to develop resilience and accept failure as a route to success.
Circus isn’t the only technique, which could be applied to the framework of building learning power and Matt sees the possibility of extending the education to other forms of art.
Matt is a visionary and has a training programme for other potential circus educators, seeing the future for Circus Education as being a trusted brand that is in every school in the country.
Imagine if every child in the country experienced, through the magic of circus the positive impact and power of learning.
Imagine if every child had the opportunity to be championed for its achievements however small.
Now it doesn’t take much more imagination to guess the impact on education and results nationally.
Making education a positive experience for all children shouldn’t just be Matt and Tom’s vision it should be a vision, which we all share.