Juggling in Schools

This is something I’m very passionate about.

I believe that alongside the more traditional sports like football, rugby, netball and rounders that juggling should also be delivered to school children.


That’s a good question.

In short juggling is good for you, both mentally and physically.

It helps the whole of your body from top to toe… Literally.

It’s also a non-competitive sport in that you can do it without having to beat anyone else.

With other sports, like football for example, you can only play if you are playing against someone else. Most sports are like this. But juggling isn’t like that. When you juggle you compete with yourself. Jugglers constantly strive to better their last run. Every time they practice they want to make one more catch or throw up just one more object. There’s always more to learn no matter how far you go.

It’s possible for an 11-ball juggler working on 12 balls to be stood in the same hall as a complete beginner learning 3 balls and both get the same sense of achievement from being able to juggle their new patterns for the first time. No other sport offers this.

What’s more, jugglers love to share. They love to teach each other new tricks as much as they love to learn them. When you get 700 juggling enthusiasts in the same place you don’t need extra police or other security to prevent violence or disruptive behaviour. It’s a shame that the same can’t be said if 700 football fans got together.

As a result of this, juggling is very sociable. When you get two or more jugglers together its not long before they start passing objects between them.

For those who want to compete, juggling can also provide this too. There are juggling competitions run by the IJA and the WJF. There are also smaller games run at conventions and some of the larger juggling clubs.

Finally, juggling can be used as a universal language. It’s not uncommon for jugglers from different countries who can’t speak the same language verbally to communicate through their juggling. Working together, playing together and teaching each other.

With all these benefits, why is juggling a minority sport? Seems a crime to keep it this way.

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‘Civilisation is a race between education and catastrophe’ – H G Wells

No truer a statement has ever been written than the one that forms the title of today’s post, which will focus on an experience I had at a baked potato stand I was at in Bristol.

My wife (then girlfriend) and I were visiting my parents in Bristol and we’d decided to take a stroll into town. My parents live only 30-minutes or so from the Center and we will often take a walk in that direction.

On this occasion we had quite a bit of shopping to do. It was coming close to Christmas and we’d been trudging our way around the shops for some time. It was now 1pm and we were hungry.

After the 15-minute discussion any couple needs to decide what they want to eat and where they want to eat it we headed for a potato stand in the food court of The Galleries Shopping Centre. I’m sure you’re all familiar with these types of places. A plain, sterile looking collection of tables and chairs complete with teenagers munching on burgers and guzzling down coke, an elderly couple looking confused at the lack of change from a £10 note after ordering two cups of coffee and a screaming baby who’s completely shattered parents have gone into a coma-like state brought on by lack of sleep.

On approaching the potato stand I ordered my usual cheese and coleslaw and the Mrs asked for cheese and beans.

“Can we have butter on those too please?”

A confused look came back at us from across the counter and after a short period of silence a reply of: “Butter?”

“Yes please”, I said.

My poor server stood, thought and finally told me they could get me butter and proceeded to go and collect one of those pre-packaged portions of butter wrapped in foil and placed it on the side of my plate next to the potato.

It was my turn to look confused.

“Could I have the butter on the potato?”, I asked.

More silence.

“Oh, I’m not allowed to do that.”, was the reply.

I tried to explain that putting the butter on was no different to putting the beans, cheese, coleslaw or any other ingredient on.

Likewise, my server tried to explain that his job was to take the orders and he wasn’t allowed to touch the ingredients. So I came back with the argument that those who are allowed to build the potatoes could put the butter on.

But no, this too wasn’t allowed because the butter wasn’t officially an ingredient for use with the potatoes. Therefore the potato assembly team weren’t allowed to put it on either.

In the end I had to unwrap my butter and put it on myself before handing the potato back and having them put the rest of the fillings on the spud.





Why have I shared this with you?

Well, it’s because it illustrates the title of this post perfectly. This is the result of our current education system. Not just schools, but anywhere that training is given. Including Potato College.

The current way of educating people produces obedient, rigid and non-flexible students and workers unable to think creatively and solve unique problems.

Now, I know the non-application of butter on a potato isn’t a total catastrophe. But it highlights the way in which people think. The way in which people are taught to think.

They are taught to think from A to B to C and if someone asks them for something slightly unusual they panic and are unable to come up with a satisfactory solution.

But if my server was able to think a little creatively they’d have put a tub of butter on the fillings counter and labelled it an ingredient. Then they would ask each customer if they’d like butter. If they do the fillings operatives (I’ve been struggling what to call them throughout this post) would be able to add butter to the potatoes that need it.

You don’t have to be a creative genius to discover that answer, I know this to be true because I discovered this answer and I’m no genius creative or otherwise. But I’m able to think outside the box enough to create a solution. And a solution that would solve my problem, and any future similar problems.

Creative thinking doesn’t have to mean writing plays, producing works of art or putting on a performance piece. It is essential to the general survival of our species. It’s needed in everyday life to solve simple issues like how to put butter on a potato.

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I hate sport!

Not me. I love sport. Not all sports, but most.

I really enjoy rugby and other contact sports. I also like strength sports and the field games at athletics events. Skating, surfing, snowboarding and other extreme sports are also great fun to do and watching.

I don’t particularly like football though. Never have. And during primary school I was considered to be one of the non-sporty kids based on the fact I never wanted to play football.

In fact football was pretty much the only sport we were offered in primary school, the rugby and other sports I eventually got into didn’t come about until secondary school when we were offered a much wider choice.

But for a lot of kids sport isn’t something they find interesting. Or at least they don’t enjoy doing what they deem to be sports.

My niece hates sport, so she tells me. But in the same breath she also says she loves rock climbing, abseiling and canoeing. Since when was canoeing not a sport?

In her head it isn’t. In her head, and many other kid’s heads, sports are the games you do in school and see on TV. They are football, cricket, rugby, netball, hockey and athletics. No more, no less.

If all you know of as sport are those activities and you happen to dislike them then its quite easy, and logical, to come to the conclusion that you hate sport.

In my nieces case she has never had the extreme sports she loves doing labelled as sport. Sport is PE and PE is one of the activities listed earlier. The stuff she does in school during PE is sport.

This obviously indicates an area of school life that needs to change. Kids need a wider variety of sporting activities put on offer. Something more than team games that pit one against the other.

Modern school life is a stressful and competitive environment, do we really need to make young people compete even further on the rugby pitch or tennis court. Sport doesn’t have to be competitive, does it?

If you talk to a surfer and ask why they surf the answer will be a personal one. One of self improvement and a ‘oneness’ with nature. A surfer doesn’t try to beat the others on the water. They are there for themselves.

Before anyone writes in, I know there are surf competitions. But the choice to compete is just that, a choice. In football you either play a game or you don’t. There’s no way of playing a game of football without competing in some form.

Juggling, snowboarding and other similar sports share this non-competitive angle with surfing. The only competition is that of competing with oneself. Trying to juggle three balls for just one more throw or master a new slope on the snowboard. It’s all about self improvement.

Why are these sports not taught in schools on a more regular basis?

Team sports have their place and some people thrive in those sorts of environments. But they are just one example of the myriad of possibilities available. Team sports should be just one option offered alongside a variety of other sporting activities.

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‘I’m thinking of becoming a primary school teacher.’

– Rhod Gilbert

I’ve been listening to Rhod’s interview for The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast on the way home from today’s gig, it was recorded back in August 2012 and the comedy superstar announced that he’d quite like to go into teaching.

To many the movement of performer to teacher seems almost backwards with most more likely to want to go the other way seeing teaching as the 9-5 and performing as something special. But like any job that you’ve done for a while the romantic image fades and reality eventually sinks in.

Rhod didn’t say much about why he wanted to become a teacher, but what he did say rang true with some of my own reasons for wanting to make the transition.

Besides, there are many similarities between being a good performer and being a great teacher. They share many of the same skills. At least I think they should.

If you’d like to listen to the Rhod Gilbert interview you can get more info on this and loads of other brilliant interviews over at www.ComediansComedian.com.

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Francis Bacon paintings fetch £21 million at London auction

With all this talk of Renaissance Men I just discovered this story on the BBC.

“Francis Bacon paintings make £21m at London auction

Two works by British artist Francis Bacon, including the first painting he ever sold, have fetched more than £21m at a London auction.

Head III, which sold for £150 at Bacon’s first solo show 54 years ago, was bought for £10.4m by an American private collection.

It had been estimated to sell for between £5m and £7m.”

–read more–

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Science + Art = The Future

Traditional education systems all over our tiny planet focus on the sciences, alongside languages, technology and mathematics, as the priority subjects taught to children. The arts, humanities and physical education are sidelined and deemed less important. As those who have read my other posts will know this is something I disagree with, and recently I’ve been pondering on this disagreement quite a lot.

One of the things I’ve discovered is that its only been in modern times that the sciences and the arts have taken different paths.

I was researching Ren Faires in the United States as a possible outlet for my work as a performer. Being from and living in the UK I’d never been to a Ren Faire before. I knew they were medieval-style themed events but didn’t know what the Ren in Ren Faire meant. Turns out its an abbreviation of the word Renaissance. A word I’d heard before but never used, and if I have I’ve probably used it incorrectly.

The Renaissance, in short, spanned several centuries from the 14th to the 17th and was the time of great thinkers like Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei. These men, these Renaissance Men, are known to be what’s called polymaths.

A polymath being someone who is an expert in both the arts and the sciences. The two subjects collide and blend together to become one ‘super subject’ within the minds of the polymath as apposed to being thought of separately as they are in the classroom.

The Renaissance legend Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) said: “a man can do all things if he will”. And who am I to argue with that? His concept did after all give rise to the Renaissance humanism movement, which considered humans to be “empowered and limitless in their capacities for development”. Renaissance humanism led to the notion that people could, and indeed should, embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible.

And that’s just what the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon and Michael Servetus did. Could you imagine what the world would be like if they hadn’t?

By combining the creative process often associated with arts subjects to the more linear subjects like science and maths you open a world where new, never asked questions form and the answers to those questions lead to exciting discoveries that would never have been found if we continued to simply learn what has come before.

Its a simple idea, and the best ones often are, that will keep us looking forward rather than constantly looking back. We don’t know what the future will hold, but what is certain is that our children are the ones who will have to face it and it is our job to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge to be able to cope with whatever is thrown at them. Science, math, languages and technology alone will not be enough.

Take Kodak as an example. A giant among the photographic world for decades and the home to many great minds in science, math, languages and technology, but where are they now? Unable to react to change they have gone by-the-by.

Kodak were unable to create a solution that meant they would continue as strongly in the 21st century as they had throughout the 20th. If they’d been a polymath organisation they would have been able to draw on knowledge from many different areas and ask new creative questions that would’ve generated the new answers needed for their survival.

In the same way our children need to be polymath organisms with the ability to creatively ask new questions that will lead to new answers needed for their survival.

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London House is 3D Illusion

Be prepared to have your mind go in to complete meltdown…

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Leandro Erlich, an Argentinian artist, has built a Victorian-style house in London that doesn’t exist. It is nothing more than a very clever optical illusion… Yet you can see it, touch it and even give the impression you’re walking up it!

For those not able to see this in person you can check out the BBC’s report on it here. But if you’re in the London area why not go and try out your own Spiderman abilities?

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