Monday, April 25, 2016

Teach Like a Circus

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Circus in Sioux Falls, SD. As I sat in my seat, surrounded by cotton candy, squirming children, and light sabres, I thought about the nature of circuses and what exactly I was seeing as the tigers pounced, the camels trotted, and the ring master bellowed.  The circus is not just glitz and glamor. Here is what else you see while watching the circus. Amazing efficiency in transitioning from one act to the next. As one act ended, it was taken down as the next act began. Completed acts were put away by workers who knew exactly what to do and where to go.  Everything from taking down a cage to rolling up a tarp. It was all done with precision. They didn't have a lot of time so they needed to be quick, efficient, precise. You saw the result of an incredible amount of practice. How much practice goes into trying to jump a rope on a high wire? Or for a guy to catch another guy after 3 somersaults while swinging upside down, 40 feet in the air? The practice that goes into the acts is remarkable. But it's also necessary, as one slip up could cause serious injury or death. Looking for innovation? Look no further than the circus. It is oozing with innovation. How so? In the circus, there are no questions like, "Can we do this?" Instead, they are constantly asking themselves, "How?" They look at an act or an idea and ask themselves how they can make it happen.  "How can three motorcycle riders zoom around in an enclosed iron ball, side ways and upside down?" "How can I get this tiger to jump through a ring of fire?"

I think school should be a lot like the Circus. It should be a place with meaningful practice to master a skill, not busy work just to keep kids quiet. It should be a place of efficient ways of learning and moving. It should be a place of innovation in which kids are constantly asking themselves how they can do something new or better, rather than if they can do something. Like the circus, school should also be a place of fun and excitement. It should be a magical place for boys and girls of all ages. 

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