City conjuror’s magic idea for teachers

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HEY Presto! – here’s a neat trick to liven up school work.

An Edinburgh magician – and former computer science teacher – is promoting magic in the classroom as a way of revolutionising learning.

Jody Greig says magic in the classroom will keep pupils engaged. Picture: Jane Barlow

Jody Greig says magic in the classroom will keep pupils engaged. Picture: Jane Barlow

Jody Greig has just launched an ebook, The Conjuror’s Classroom, to teach others the technique and believes the results are no illusion after a trial in the city’s Gracemount High.

The 35-year-old, who runs Leith-based Flummix, is now seeking funding to develop his idea further and said it could be used across a range of subjects.

He said: “This is about the joy of magic. It’s the kids’ gasps – that question of, ‘how did he do that?’”

Among the card classics set to have jaws dropping in Edinburgh’s normally sedate computing classes are the 21 card trick, the leading ace (in which all four aces jump mysteriously from one pile to another) and the Marrakech calculator.

He said the approach was based on the “natural curiosity” of young people for all things magic-related.

“First and foremost, magic engages,” said Mr Greig. “But in a self-working magic trick, what you’re doing is following a procedure and a well-designed set of instructions, as happens in a computing programme.

“The teacher would literally demonstrate a trick to convey the basic principles of a computing process.”

Mr Greig who taught computer science in schools across East Lothian said he had successfully trialled his ideas to Edinburgh classrooms but admitted teachers might feel put off at the prospect of performing in front of pupils.

But he insisted the method was robust and has launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding bid for money to produce a series of instruction videos for staff.

“In the end, magic is an expressive art,” he said.

“By giving teachers and pupils the opportunity to perform in class, we’re also addressing a range of key areas of Curriculum for Excellence – numeracy, literacy, health and well-being.”

Teachers have already hailed the idea and said it fitted well with some of the fundamental principles of the new curriculum.

Louise Shannon, curricular leader for expressive arts at Gracemount, said the businessman had enthused S1 and S3 pupils during a six-week trial in spring. She said: “The pupils were interested because it was an unusual approach, which is also a really good way of teaching higher order skills such as problem-solving, creativity and planning.”