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I Know a Few Clowns that Work in Education

I Know a Few Clowns that Work in Education

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Seriously. I do.

During graduate school I was in a cohort with a woman who happened to be from San Francisco. She was a practicing clown, and her clown-ego was named Bill. Bill was a doctor and he was very silly. I had never thought about circus as an art form, nor had I ever thought of it as a form of education. But my friend proved me wrong, and to this day I love the idea of circus arts for education.

The circus arts are great for kids ages 1-100. It allows you to be in touch with a sillier side, and calls for a general air of happiness. It promotes failure as a learning tool, and collaboration as inevitable for success. As with most other art forms, clowning takes purposeful practice and requires things like self-discipline and teamwork.

Clowning allows students to take off a mask they wear at their schools and replace it with a mask that's more kid-like, positive, joyful, and carefree. And don't our kids deserve that?

Here are some tips to try clowning in the classroom or at home:

Exaggeration Game: Have each student write down 2-3 actions, traits, qualities, or states. Put all suggestions into a hat and have students take turns exaggerating the item they picked for one minute.

Jumbled Choir: Assemble students in a line or group and start by asking one student to pick a sound. Then have all students follow. Keep going until all students have made up a sound. Then lead a choir by asking students to create their sound when you point to them and to not stop until you point to them again. You can practice with going louder or softer, slower or faster.

Props: Give a pair of students a prop and encourage them to figure out the many uses of that prop--the sillier the better! You can also have a third student join the conversation halfway through to bring in new ideas.

The opportunities for learning are endless in the circus arts. Clowning is just one medium through which students can express themselves. There are also circus schools in almost every major city around the country that do workshops for students. Don't have a circus school around you? Check out these resources for teaching clowning:

Have you ever thought about clowning in the classroom? What are your thoughts after reading this post?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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