Friday, September 14, 2012

The More Magic There Is

Rolling a hoop down a hill is not as simple as it might at first appear. Most of the 2 and 3 year olds can't do it, except by accident, and then they stand amazed, later growing frustrated when they try and fail to recreate their magic trick. So instead, I often roll hoops for them to chase and retrieve, because the whole idea of a hoop rolling down a hill is still an important thing to have in your life.

There's a lot to know about the world and your own body before you can master this particular form of magic. 

I sometimes perform slight of hand tricks with the children, then violate the magicians oath and lift the veil on how it's done. However, no matter how many times I show the younger children that the coin is, in fact, in my other hand, they still follow the empty hand with their eyes. It's only as they approach 4 and 5-years-old that their brains are ready to "get it," their eyes perhaps fooled for a second, but then, usually with a laugh or squeal, they redirect their attention to where the coin really is, in the hand resting innocently on my lap. Sometimes they just point to where they now know the coin to be, but other times they try to pry my fingers open, determined to prove to themselves that they now get it.

We sometimes tell children that "magic isn't real," but as I watched the kids in our new 5's program, rolling and chasing their hoops down the hill, something that has rarely happened at Woodland Park, even in our 3-5's class, it occurred to me that magic is real, not "if we believe" as Peter Pan might suggest, but rather so long as it's something just beyond our grasp. Maybe we sometimes call it innocence.

When we successfully and repeatedly roll a hoop down the hill, it shifts from the realm of magic, into the realm of science, something to be studied and perhaps perfected.

At one point a hoop stopped at my feet. I picked it up and tossed it up the hill, high into the air, over the  heads of the kids, imparting a lot of backspin. The hoop landed on it's edged, skidded for moment, then began racing back down the hill.

Finn looked at me with wide eyes, "How did you do that, Teacher Tom?"

I demonstrated how I did that particular magic trick, showing Finn, but knowing that it would be awhile before he would be able to do it himself.  That's the real wonder of magic, I think, the more of it you turn into science, the more magic there is.

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