Juggling … throwing and dropping … and finally, how that could work in school
And now for something completely different…. Skerries, the town in North Co. Dublin where we’re living, has a fantastic annual arts festival known as Soundwaves, and workshops for this, that and the other form part of it. For a good few years now, I’ve been wanting to learn how to juggle, and when I saw that one workshop was for juggling, I signed myself and The Son up for it. The Son complained afterwards that I had not consulted him, but came along anyway, as any good 11-year-old would. So today was the big day. We expected the workshop to be chock-a-block – who would not want to spend 30 minutes on a Saturday afternoon to learn how to juggle, I was thinking… However, I was mistaken, partly because I had not taken The Match into consideration (and hooray for the Dubs, well done!!!). In the end, it was The Son, myself and another 11-year-old who were in attendance of John’s workshop. John (whose second name I didn’t catch, alas) was brilliant. Funny, nice, pretty good at juggling, and even better at explaining what we were to do!
First, we were to warm up, shaking and stretching arms, shoulders, neck. Then he gave us juggling balls – one was plenty to begin with. We threw it in the air, diagonally, so that it would go roughly to the height of our eyes, and then fall into our waiting other hand, which would in turn throw it up, diagonally, and so on. We did that a few times, clapped before catching the ball, clapped twice (which is when we started having to pick up that ball occasionally as we clapped and didn’t quite catch the it….). And now for the two-ball routine: Throw ball 1 into the air; as it reaches its peak, throw ball 2 up; catch ball 1; catch ball 2. That was the theory…
Thus far, I had read it before, I had been
explained told how to do it before, and I had failed miserably to do so before. Fair play to John, so, because today I understood, for the first time, what I was meant to do, and I managed to do as many as 4 reps in a go without dropping a single ball!
We went on to try this with three balls, which is where it got complicated again – but still very enjoyable! John said it took him about a fortnight to get his head and hands around the “three-ball cascade” (which is apparently what we were learning). He showed us some of his tricks, which we appreciated even more as we had not quite gotten the hang of the basic juggling yet, and left us with an appetite for more. The Son and I have already spent some time practising, and he was quite pleased that he had so much fun without a computer.
So how does all of this fit into a blog that is (more or less) focusing on primary education? Well, a good while ago, I came across this study that juggling in school can help with numeracy, concentration and brain development (http://brainfitnessstrategies.com/juggling-brain-development/improve-academic-skills.html and http://archive.teachfind.com/ttv/www.teachers.tv/videos/juggling-with-success.html). I’ve been wanting to introduce juggling into my teaching – but felt I probably needed to actually be able to do it myself first! So now I’m going to practise, practise, practise, and hopefully will be able to add some more fun to my classes soon! How good would that be – taking a few minutes out from other classroom work to juggle together! What do you think?