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Jono Blythe | Magician: My Talk at UWC Atlantic College: Exploring Critical Thinking Through Magic

Hey there, folks! Just wanted to share with you all the fantastic time I had recently at UWC Atlantic College in Llantwit Major. It was a unique experience that took me back to my school days, but this time, I was the one at the front of the class.


Nicolas Janvier, an all-around cool teacher of Theory of Knowledge and French at the college, reached out to me for a special task: to give a talk for a Critical Thinking course aimed at 16-17-year-old students. Let me walk you through what went down during those two enlightening sessions.


First off, let's get this out there: public speaking isn't exactly my comfort zone. But Nicolas had an engaging way of talking that put me at ease. He wanted me to talk about something that's become second nature to me over the years: magic and the way our eyes sometimes play tricks on us. The topic on the table?


"Should We Always Believe What We See?"


Now, I didn't want to bore the students with a bunch of complicated words and theories. I just wanted to have a friendly chat about something intriguing.

Optical illusions – those sneaky little tricks our brains pull on us – became the centrepiece of our conversation. I shared some classic examples with the students: like 'The Ames Room', which bends perspective in mind-boggling ways, and the 'Jastrow Illusion', where objects play size-changing mind games. And of course, there was the famous Jerry Andrus 'Dragon Head Illusion'. The students were on board, their eyes wide as they saw how easy it is to be led astray by what we think we're seeing.


Magician, Jono Blythe, wearing his signature brown jacket, stands confidently in front of a group of engaged students in the library of UWC Atlantic College. He introduces himself and the topic of his talk while gesturing towards a large monitor behind him. The monitor displays the first slide of his presentation, featuring the title 'Should We Always Believe What We See?' The students are leaning in, attentively focused on Jono's opening remarks, eager to delve into the discussion on critical thinking and perception.

But the fun didn't stop there. I dived into the world of magic and how it dances along the same lines as optical illusions. It's all about manipulating what we expect to see, and then pulling the rug from under our feet. We chatted about how movies like Lord of the Rings use forced perspective to make characters look giant or tiny. I even played them clips from old classics, like 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' and 'Royal Wedding', where filmmakers toyed with reality long before CGI.


Then came the real magic – the hands-on part. I invited some brave souls from the audience to help me out. But instead of asking them to keep their eyes on the trick, I had them focus on me. My hands, my movements, my expressions – that's where the real show was. We delved into the idea of perception and how it shapes our reality. It was a blast, seeing those "Aha!" moments light up in the students' eyes.


Beyond the classroom, Atlantic College itself was a gem. Situated in the stunning St. Donat’s Castle, the place oozes history and charm. I discovered that it had played host to movies and TV series like 'A Discovery of Witches' and 'Wolf Hall'. Even the iconic 'Doctor Who' found its way here. And get this – Hogwarts could've been filmed here too! The place truly has that mystical aura.



Overall, I can't express how much I enjoyed my time at Atlantic College. It was an educational ride, one where I got to share some of the things I've learned on my magical journey with these young, curious minds. The research and preparation were eye-opening, and I'm excited to have another talk to add to my repertoire, alongside my original discussion about Magic and Asperger’s Syndrome.


So, there you have it – a little glimpse into my recent adventure at UWC Atlantic College. Stay curious, my friends, and remember: not everything is as it seems!


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