Spring is almost upon us and hopefully that will mean better weather and lots of sun shine throughout the days to come. Here in South Korea March brings with it the start of a new school year. The children here begin their school year during the first week of March and finish it during the third week in July. This is just one of the many cultural differences here when comparing Canada and South Korea.
The Korean education system is very different from those of North America and a glimpse of the pressure put on the children to study can be caught in the average child’s daily schedule. For most children here, starting even before first grade, it is common place to go to a privately owned specialty schools which provides classes in English, Math, Art, Music or Science after their normal public school hours. This means that the children are usually in classes from early morning until early to late evening during the weekdays. But what does this have to do with the art of magic?
In South Korea there is a field of magic which they now call “Education Magic” this is usually taught in public elementary or middle schools as an after-school class that children can take during their limited free time before going off to a privately owned school for more classes in other subjects. It is this field of magic that I would like to introduce you to because I found it to be unique in a number of different ways.
First let’s start out by looking at the requirements that the school puts on the magicians in order to teach this type of class. First to have the chance to open such a class the magician will need to have a certification in magic issued by a company that has been approved by the Provincial Office of Education for the area in which the school is located. Once this is acquired then the magician can go about making the application with the school to have their class put on the list of potential candidates for the upcoming school year. The school will usually require one to submit copies of the certification, a resume, an application form and a general teaching plan for the year along with any added information you wish to submit such as a brochure or pamphlet that offers a better insight into your program.
The hours can vary depending on the school but for most you are looking at signing a contract to teach 16 to 20 hours a month for the entire school year plus time during the winter and summer vacations. There is flexibility in when the hours can be offered but for the most part they are after 2pm or 3pm on the weekdays or during the morning or afternoon hours on Saturdays. They can be offered to any grade level from first to sixth in elementary or seventh to ninth in middle school. The design of the class is up to the magician. If the class does open then the magician is required to submit a monthly lesson plan at the beginning of each month and is also responsible for the attendance documentation and any other administration things requested by the school. The class size depends upon how many students have signed up to take the class. The average is anywhere from 10 to 30 depending on the limitations of the school’s program.
Once you have submitted all the required documentation then it will go through a review board consisting of usually a small number of school teachers, administrators and parents. If your program successfully passes this process then your class will be included on a list of various types of classes to be offered to the students at the start of the school year. The students will then choose the after-school class they wish to attend and if your program has received at least the minimum number of students required for the class to open then you have made it and can look forward to seeing all those smiling faces enthusiastically waiting to learn some magic. But what will they learn?
What is actually taught in the class is up to the magician and it can vary from class to class. Over the years I have seen magicians teaching anything from beginning level packet tricks to more completed slights which leads to a wide variation of what is being taught and how it is taught. It is up to the magician or the company he is working for to set the curriculum for the programs that they are offering to the schools. Some programs come in and just teach them magic tricks while others theme their magical teachings around a particular subject such as math or science.
For me personally, this is an area of magic I really enjoy. It is a relatively new and constantly changing field of magic here. It has the possibility to develop the art into a direction that allows it to offer an exciting and educational way to not only to motivate and engage children in the learning process but to also expose them to the some of the wonders of the art of magic. I have been teaching and developing magic classes that focus on students developing their English skills through magic since 2004 and find them to be very rewarding. The process itself is very challenging and at times frustrating but in the end you find that you really do push yourself to become a more creative and organized individual. The satisfaction that you get from teaching the children and watching them learn and progress is well worth it.
As always please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or questions on this or any of the other Magical Journeys blogs I have posted here.