“A deranged lunatic named Herbert Blount (Jillette) donates a large sum of money to to land himself on the set of a crowdfunded horror movie starring his favorite actress, Missi Pyle. When it appears the director is not doing the film justice, he steals the footage and abducts Pyle in order to create his own better version. It all unfolds via the director’s commentary over his new and improved version of the film.
Education, at its most engaging, is performance art. From the moment a teacher steps into the classroom, students look to him or her to set the tone and course of study for everyone, from the most enthusiastic to the most apathetic students. Even teachers who have moved away from the traditional lecture format, toward more learner autonomy-supportive approaches such as project-based and peer-to-peer learning, still need to engage students in the process, and serve as a vital conduit between learner and subject matter.
Teachers are seldom trained in the performance aspect of teaching, however, and given that every American classroom contains at least one bored, reluctant, or frustrated student, engagement through performance may just be the most important skill in a teacher’s bag of tricks.
I asked Teller, a former Latin teacher and the silent half of the magical partnership known as Penn & Teller, about his years as an educator, and the role performance played in his teaching. Teller taught high school Latin for six years before he left to pursue a career in magic with Penn, and in the 40 years since, the duo have won Emmys, Obies, and Writer’s Guild Awards, as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As our conversation meandered through Catullus, Vergil, Shakespeare, and education theory, he explained why he believes performance is an essential, elemental aspect of effective teaching.
The first job of a teacher is to make the student fall in love with the subject. That doesn’t have to be done by waving your arms and prancing around the classroom; there’s all sorts of ways to go at it, but no matter what, you are a symbol of the subject in the students’ minds.” (Photo: Wikipedia )
I’ve read bios of Houdini all my life, and they all give the impression that Houdini — though he was an electrifying presence onstage – was a dud in the cinema, a posturing ham in whiteface. Not wanting to mar my hero’s image, I’d avoided those films.
But recently a virgin print of the long-lost film The Grim Gamewas rediscovered in the estate of Larry Weeks. I’d met Weeks at magic conventions when he was in his 80s — a wiry, goateed leprechaun with a beret and a wicked grin. He’d take my arm with a broad, tan, bone crushing grip (he’d been a juggler in his prime), and pull me aside to chat about Houdini. He’d obtained the print directly from the Houdini family and shared it only with his closest friends.
The Grim Game was Houdini’s third major movie venture. He’d botched a first attempt, then learned the ropes of the new medium by starring in a fifteen-part serial The Master Mystery shot in Brooklyn and bristling with his signature stunts. In the course of shooting, he’d suffered seven black eyes and a broken left wrist after he fell off a swinging chandelier, but during that time he’d learned to act for the camera. He wrote, “The smallest movie star can make the biggest spoken stage star look like a nickel before the camera, especially if they do not know the angle of the lens.” He was ready for Hollywood. Read more..
A new issue of the Magic Roadshow – Journal of Magic just published online. If you aren’t a subscriber, it’s OK.. you can read it anyway. In this issue you’ll find…
-I hope you guys are ready for some serious magic. If you don’t know how to perform a workable second deal, you will by this time next month, thanks to Paul Lelekis. Plus, Paul is going to teach you a very cool effect using your new second deal..
-Nate Ipock’s rendition of Henry Christ’s trick, ‘Stop When Ready’ will give you a very serviceable ACAAN you can perform impromptu.
-Eliyahu Wincelberg and I agreed to a series of articles on Proposing with Magic. This is the first of several really intriguing tricks to win her heart.. with magic.
-Paul Daniels will inform and entertain for a solid hour in a podcast hosted by Luis de Matos. You definitely don’t want to miss this!
-Jay Sankey will teach you the difference between being a professional and an amateur via a slick card trick. Plus.. I found a very good Ambitious Card Trick Variation Tutorial where a signed card rises to the top of a rubber band encased deck..
-Michael Boden will teach you a little bit of everything.. seriously. I’ve run across 50+ video tutorials from Michael you’ll love..
-Michael Ammar will teach you a special ‘sleeve aces’ trick
-FernandoP1 will teach you a very delightful sleight. Plus, a classic torn and restored thread routine.
-Teller will give you his thoughts on Revealing Magic
-Jim Canaday and myself will offer our opinions on a couple of commercial effects.
-Do You Know How to Convert an iPhone into a Hologram Projector? Watch this video and learn a really simple method.
-Plus, you’ll be privvy to a special offer , courtesy of Trickshop, that will keep you engrossed in magic for a solid month. And remember, aside from my special Trickshop offer, everything is au gratis.