Education Through Entertainment

Mobile Ed School Assembly Guide Part 10 – Entertainment Programs

Posted on Mon, Apr 8, 2013

school assemblies resized 600Recently in these pages we have been developing a Guide to School Assemblies. Today we will begin looking at all the different types of shows that are available, starting with something fun, the entertainers.

Entertainment is to be expected as a component of most all school assembly programs. But the exact definition of entertainment if flexible in this regard. Obviously, a comedian (if he is funny) is going to be entertaining. But in a different way, a purely educational documentary can also qualify as entertaining if it is engaging. So, regardless of the degree of educational value, we anticipate that all good school shows will be entertaining on some level. However, there are some occasions that may warrant a show that is totally entertaining and has no educational value whatsoever.

Now, as a company that creates shows that always have educational value, we tend to think that even on these occasions a show that does still contribute to advancing education is a better choice. We nonetheless acknowledge that not everyone feels this way. Sometimes a clown or a magician is exactly want you want. Fair enough. Halloween might be just such an occasion, or right before Christmas. Following a week of testing is another time a PTO might want to employ a show that is nothing but a happy lark.

For such moments the world is full of shows and entertainers happy to oblige. Magicians can be found in almost all markets, with a large sliding scale of rates and abilities, to suit almost any budget. Clowns are also usually easily found. There are wonderfully exciting shows available featuring teams of BMX bike riders who are extremely adept at performing daredevil tricks. There are jugglers and Yo-Yo guys and puppets and just about everything else you can imagine.

Now, just a word to the wise regarding entertainers.

Just as we here at Mobile Ed feel that many of our educational programs also make for good entertainment, there are also plenty of great entertainers who feel that they are also educators. Sometimes this is true. Sadly, often it is not.

The market for programs that are purely entertaining has diminished dramatically over time. Partly this is because schools are now so pressured to deliver, that taking time, any time, for a show that does not advance the curriculum, has become a very hard sell. Moreover, it has become apparent to teachers and parents alike that the wealth of high quality educational programs available that are also extremely entertaining removes the need for programs that do not deliver in both areas.

So, for the performer who makes his living performing school shows, it has become essential to market themselves as providers of programs that are educational. Consequently, we now find a phenomenon we refer to as “Magic Shows in Drag”.

No, this is nothing to do with assembly guide

Rather, the term refers to a program that is one thing while pretending to be another. In this case, the term refers to a show which is really a pure entertainment program masquerading as one with educational value. It might be a magic show pretending to be a science show.

Watch this, kids!"

(insert magic trick – follow with appropriate oohs and ahhs)

"That is pure science! Cool, huh?"

(no explanation of the trick given)

"Now, for my next trick … er... I mean … experiment!... etc”

Or, it might be a juggler masquerading as an anti bullying show, or a BMX bike show pretending to be a self esteem program and so on.

Often, these entertainers are so good at the entertainment side of things and so much fun to watch, that the average audience does not realize they are being conned, and that the curriculum value is virtually nil. That is what the performer counts on. If they do a really fun show no one will notice it has no nutritional value at all. That is a Magic Show in Drag.

We have nothing against good entertaining shows. We love a laugh as much as anyone. Really!

But when a school is spending their hard earned money for a science program, we feel they should get a science program. Truth in advertising, you know?

So, how do you make sure you are not booking a "Magic Show in Drag"? Sometimes it can be hard to tell. But there are usually some clues to look for.

If you are looking at a brochure or a website, and the same individual offers both educational and entertainment programs, that may be a bad sign. If you are looking at a performer who is obviously available as a magician but also offers science, that may be a bad sign. If the stretch from the entertainment skill to the educational content promised seems pretty remote, it may be a bad sign, An example of this would be a juggler teaching chemistry, perhaps, or a Yo Yo guy teaching math. Usually, a little common sense goes a long way.

pancakes resized 600My Dad always used to say that he didn't go to a pancake restaurant for a steak and he didn't go to a steak house for breakfast.

In most cases, the same may safely be said for school assembly programs.

If you are looking for a science show, look for a company or provider that specializes in science shows. If you are looking for a magician hire a magician.

We like pancakes and we like steaks. We just want to be sure that when we order the one we don't get served the other.

We recommend you try to do the same thing.

Bon Appetit!




Topics: School Assembly Guide, School Assembly Programs, ideas for school assemblies, Educational school shows