Power of Hand Gestures

hands_cardsSteve Martin is an amazing entertainer: comic, musician and dramatic actor. While reading his autobiography, Born Standing Up, I came across this powerful quotation. I think that all teachers should keep it mind as they watch their students in the classroom and wonder how to motivate some children who are busy with their hands but not with their books or worksheets:


“Merlin’s magic shop was run by Leo Behnke, a fine card and coin manipulator who was the first person to let me in on the inner secrets of magic, and who endorsed a strict code of practice and discipline that l took to heart. But Leo had another quality that transfixed me. He handled cards with delicacy; there was a rhythm to his movements that was mildly hypnotic. He could shuffle the deck without ever lifting it from the tabletop. After an almost invisible riffle, every card was interlaced exactly with the next, a perfect shuffle. Then, with the elegance of Fred Astaire, he squared the cards by running his fingers smoothly around the edges of the deck. Leo taught me his perfect shuffle (called the faro shuffle), which I perfected a mere four months later, and I squared the deck just like he did. I enjoyed making the sleights imperceptible and moving my fingers around the cards with Leo’s grace and ease. A magician’s hands are often hiding things, and I learned that stillness can be as deceptive as motion. It was my first experience with the pleasure and subtlety of a physical expression, and I became aware of the potency of movement.

Because I was demonstrating tricks eight to twelve hours a day, I got better and better”