Review - Power of persuasion

22nd March 2013 at 00:00
Jedi mind tricks can be used to boost creative revision

Depending on who you ask - or how long it's been since they watched Star Wars - the greatest skill of a Jedi knight is the art of benign persuasion. Or as Obi-Wan Kenobi told apprentice Luke Skywalker: "The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded."

The use of mind tricks was at times a moral issue for the soul-searching Jedis, but teachers need face no such dilemma. In fact, mind tricks are ideal when attempting to help students master revision techniques. One of the most popular revision resources is james_abela's Jedi Mind Tricks pack. It encourages "higher order thinking and is designed to associate revision with success".

Start by handing out the worksheet with three different images: a pilot preparing for take-off, students celebrating on graduation day and someone crying. Get your students to tell you what each of these images suggests:

- that pilots have to do a lot of revision to pass many tests;

- that to graduate you have to do revision and pass exams;

- that someone didn't do their revision, failed and is now upset.

james_abela recommends following up with incisive questions about how students think people become pilots - for example, what qualifications do they need? What do people need to do to get to university? And how do they think disappointing exam results can be avoided?

It won't take long for students to make the connection between revision and success, through class discussion and debate about some of the answers. Now it's time to introduce some Jedi-inspired mind tricks (soundtrack optional).

Use a mnemonic for revision: rest, exercise, variety, imagination, structure, individual, ongoing, not too long. Then move on to word associations that link objects and ideas to each other in what james_abela calls "the craziest ways possible", using mind maps and spider diagrams.

For visual learners, try what he calls loci, the memory trick of memory masters, which can involve anything from creating posters with key information to drawing a map detailing the way a student sees their journey to exam success.

Finish by asking students to write on Post-it notes what they thought were the three most effective mind tricks. Pin these to the classroom board. They will leave the lesson armed with confidence. Some might even believe the Force is with them.

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