Many colours of magic

| September 22, 2010 | 4 Comments 

Again, thank you to Roger Neilson,of Marden CLC, for his gorgeous feedback, this time for our visit to Marden CLC, and the following day of lessons at Cullercoats Primary School, earlier this week.

(The original text is on his blog HERE).

But, please make sure you

(I know that Roger would value comments on his blog đŸ™‚ )

thanks to:

Despite her power, Granny Weatherwax rarely uses magic in any immediately recognizable form. Instead, she prefers to use headology, a sort of folk-psychology which can be summed up as “if people think you’re a witch, you might as well be one”. For instance, Granny could, if she wished, curse people. However it is simpler for her to say she has cursed them, and let them assume that she is responsible for the next bit of bad luck that happens to befall them; given her reputation this tends to cause such people to flee the country entirely.

Headology bears some similarities to psychology in that it requires the user to hold a deep seated understanding of the workings of the human mind in order to be used successfully. However, headology tends to differ from psychology in that it usually involves approaching a problem from an entirely different angle.

I have to say I love Terry Pratchett – the world seems to be split between those who ‘get him’ and those who don’t. The witches who are not witches he creates and flies through his books are marvellous because, apart from their flying broomsticks, they are actually wise old women who are wise because they apply headology – they know what makes people ‘tick’.

So we have had the joy of two days of Tim Rylands and Sarah Neild with us and it did not disappoint. Day 1 they worked with staff and day two they worked with 3 full year groups at a local primary, with the invite for the people on the first day to come and see them apply what they do.

It was a magical experience for all.

So what’s the constituents of the magic potion they use? Is it ‘eye of newt etc etc’….?

Well I observed very closely and at no point could detect anything more than a projector, some very cheap software, a space and then throw in the ‘magic powder’. Analysis of this magic powder suggests its made up of proportions of patience, commitment, belief, time management, asking children ‘are they up for it?’, asking them to challenge themselves, willingness to crack a joke, be human, smile, encourage, celebrate, – oh and of course you need children (of any age). Sometimes you need to be able to unlock the child that is within all of us – the being that is capable of awe, wonder, suspension of belief, who can imagine and can react emotionally.

I observed children with no preparation stand up and deliver reasoned arguments; slip into role and read powerfully scripted writing of their own to a peer audience of 60. I observed them appreciate the silence, appreciate being able to stand and look around, to wonder, to think. I observed them being to read spontaneously aloud without any request for bidding, and to follow on from each other eventually building to a mass reading involving all the children at once.

I saw the same routines, modified for age groups, and the same script improvised and extemporised – and hey they were not easy groups – they were challenging.

Powerful magical powers from Warlock Tim and Witch Sarah……..


I would hate to take anything away from Tim and Sarah, they are special people, they are consummate professionals. But they are not super beings, they are not magic workers. If they were I’d be very worried, and i’d feel somehow cheated. I think they’d hate that ‘badge’.

They model an approach that unleashes so much potential and energy, so much self belief and enjoyment……

And tomorrow I’m going to be doing a bit of it myself. Because I can – i might not be as polished as them, but I ‘get it’ – I see how this can be used with children and I’m raring to go. Its not magic….. well its the magic of learning…….

Like Granny Weatherwax, and like any good teacher they use ‘headology’ – they know how to work with learners….. and we all can do this. Seeing them work alerted me to the potential of the children, to fly and soar and enjoy what they do. It also alerted me to the fact that I could also fly and soar and do what I want – to enable my learners to grow wings and take their first wondrous flights and delight in it.

Positive headology that Tim and Sarah demonstrate is in any good teacher – and if its not then there’s a problem. Maybe its been clamped down into a small part of your brain, maybe its been battered into almost oblivion by others – but its still there.

Tim and Sarah, thank you for applying your positive headology to my colleagues and I (delivered in a VERY POSH voice with the right stance). I am now wonderfully cursed with your ideas and hopefully myself and my learners will be transported into a new learning world, a world of Myst ery – a world of boundless fun and enablement.

Now, have you heard the one about the toad that was turned into a ………..?

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (4)

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  1. A wonderful tale that once read stays in your mind and makes you want to improve your own teaching. I read this last night when Roger posted it and throughout today I found myself using ‘positive headology’ in class to great effect. Thanks for the tale and long may it continue to be the catalyst of many more like it.

  2. Thank you for that most gracious comment Kevin, I had a fantastic day today doing positive headology with some Yr 3s…….

  3. where could you possibly find cheap quality softwares these days, most softwares are epxensive that is why i like open source a.

  4. Sarah says:

    …and all of the links we gave, which were free, if not open source.
    Good luck trying out all of these free resources, and keep supporting them, even if they do have to charge, to survive.
    Tip jars are essential for the development of quality start-ups.

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