Physics taken to another stage

19th August 2005 at 01:00
Physics teacher Bruce Fummey likes to spend his holidays doing something other than his day job... So he teaches physics. At the Edinburgh Festival.

The 40-year-old is spending part of his summer performing his one-man comedy routine The Greek, the Apple and the Time Machine. Striding into the tiny theatre dressed in a black teacher's gown, he greets the audience with a cheery "Hello, class".

During the one-hour performance, whose title refers to the eminent physicists Aristotle, Newton and Einstein, he attempts to instil in his audience a rudimentary knowledge of the subject.

Speaking to The TES after the show, he said: "Why should physics just be teachers being boring? Why shouldn't physics teachers be entertaining, zany and fun-loving? I wanted to make physics fun and interesting for people.

"You know the number of guys in their early 20s who walk on stage and just talk about wanking? I'm giving people a subject with a bit of depth."

The routine varies, with some jokes working better than others. But many physics jokes, such as the reference to Newton inventing calculus - "Newton wasn't just a scientific genius. He was also a bastard" - are well-received.

His ability to be funny has proven helpful when dealing with restive 14-year-olds, both as a tool for holding their attention and for disciplining them, he says. And, despite success on the comedy circuit, he has chosen to continue with his term-time job. "You develop an on-going relationship with pupils," he said. "When they're enthused and involved in a task, it's a beautiful experience - a richer, deeper experience."

AB

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