My 12-year-olds had a tweenager quarrel. He said. She said. It happened suddenly while we were sightseeing. On a hot day. In the sun. So, as any good parent who has been learning and applying the principles of improvisation and clowning these last two years – in the classroom, as an educational clown in schools and in devouring numerous research papers on the subject– would do, I agreed that such bickering should continue. The theatrical game of “Yes, And…” My caveat: That it
1. Therapeutic clowns work in schools at all levels – high school, middle school, elementary school. 2. Therapeutic clowns work with students in mainstream education. They can also work with special needs pupils but for the most part you can find them in mainstream schooling systems. 3. Clowns are not students or teachers; they are friends and confidants to the former and helpers, an extra eye and ear to the latter. 4. Clowns thrive on bridging the student-teacher and student
Learning from failures is important. Being able to fail, to really embrace a failure, is even more significant if the experience is to be learned. I preach it to my kids. I tell it to myself. Oshi, my alter ego, breathes this motto every moment. I envy her joy of failing; her ability to be so unsuccessful at so many different undertakings. Oshi, an educational clown, is all about bringing pleasure to people she meets. But in order to create this joy she usually needs to fail.
The Passover holiday break ended... so, Oshi, went back to school for educational clowning. First day back after so much family time also meant the pupils felt somewhat homesick. At the elementary school where Oshi works, children from grades one through six used the day to create dozens of imaginary pains and aches. They congregated in the secretary’s office every recess break. Oshi came to hear about the amazing, creative and fantastic ailments. She wanted to help make the
I love speaking to students. This week, I met with Medill School of Journalism students and teachers, who were in Israel to learn first-hand about this country’s challenges and opportunities. They had already met political leaders and pundits galore. I spoke about Israel’s creative and innovative side. It was a Q&A style talk, and the students asked some very insightful questions. Among other things, we spoke about the change in the news cycle and how, today, tech stories are
“I don’t want to talk to you,” a sixth grader recently told me.
“Good. Cuz I don’t want to talk to you either,” I replied. “I only want to talk to the girl sitting beside you.” He loved my response. He knew we had just begun the “Yes, And!” game. And he couldn’t wait for my next move. My sparring partner for this match of “Yes, And!” was a kid with a lot of drama in his life. He is a kid who needs boundaries to function but hates limits set upon him. We meet once a week. He
As soon as the kids saw me walking towards the school gate, they screamed my clown name: “Oshi! Oshi!” They had big news to share with me: I was in their school newspaper. It was great excitement for them that Leepa and I (we split days as educational clowns at this school) made it into the school magazine. Before I had time to even walk up the steps to enter the front door of the school, a girl was already pulling my hand to come meet the writer of the few sentences that had
So, there I was, moderating and speaking on a panel about innovation at the International Lion of Judah Conference in Hollywood, Florida and my fellow panelists and I knew that the last topic I was going to introduce could be a hit or miss with the audience. I regularly give talks about innovation and creativity taking place in Israel and how it benefits the global community. But this time, I was asked to talk about the personal innovation in my life. That meant that my educa
At an elementary school today, the pupils made sure to tell Educational Clowns Oshi and Leepa about all the things we didn't know. We didn't know our style of dress was out-of-style. We didn't know our hair bows were called 'ugly.' We didn't know how to do Fortnite dances properly. We didn't know that Oshi's knapsack was for little kids only, not for educational clowns. We didn't know that when you go to the bathroom, it is best to be followed there by a group of kids. There
“Leepa and Oshi are coming!!!!” one pupil shouted from the front gate of an elementary school. Within seconds, a gaggle of pupils from first through sixth grades crowded the gate chanting a welcoming cheer for us, educational clowns. “Go straight. Turn to the left. Come to us. No… go straight. Turn to the right. Now straight. Come to us.” The excitement rose and rose. So, we – Leepa and Oshi – slowed down our walk towards the gate. The anticipation only grew. A teacher up on
Coming up the stairs with one friend on each side, Nicole repeats in disgust how she is a magnet for bad luck. “Terrible luck. Bad luck. Ugh. I have horrible luck,” she complains to her friends as they reach the 11th-grade floor and head towards the classrooms down the hall. “Mazal Nakhs,” she calls it in Hebrew. I’ve overheard Nicole lamenting her luck, as I happened to come down the stairs from the floor above just as they were coming up. As such, we reach the same floor mi
Ciara hesitates for a few seconds before deciding to stop me and another clown-in-training. “What are you doing here?” she asks. She has seen us around, she says, and wants to know why there are suddenly seven adults dressed up as clowns roaming around her school. “We’re educational clowns,” I answer. “This is a school. So, we came here to learn.” My answer seems to hook her in. She squares herself in front of us. “But what are you doing here?” she asks again. “Why are you he
Mr. Peacock introduces me to Barb. Well, it isn’t really an introduction.
He points at her and says, “she’s the school drug dealer.” As an educational clown, I get to meet today’s youth on their turf. I am allowed – and sometimes invited– into their space. I view it as a great privilege to be able to connect with them. To see the world through their eyes. After all, most middle school kids and high school kids wouldn’t choose to hang out or share their stories with a 43-year
Therapeutic clowning has fascinated me for years. As a journalist, I have the good fortune of meeting people from all walks of life. Every time I interviewed a therapeutic clown, I left the interview thinking, “I want to do that.” I first met medical clowns when I was a print journalist, early in my career. I would meet them again as a television correspondent, then as a radio host, and again, years later, as an online news editor. There was something about this art form that
The seventh graders go wild when they see us, a small crew of educational clowns, in their quad space. The 8th and 9th graders squeal, ask for high-fives or handshakes, or sometimes invite us to their classrooms. The 10th, 11th and 12th graders think we’re hilarious, they beckon us into their classrooms, and join us in our silly games. All of these high school kids want us to stay in their midst. They like us. They like the color we add to their school day. The feelings are m
Puzzled looks, raised eyebrows, quizzical glances, and a smile. These are the reactions I get whenever I talk about my latest volunteering stint in educational clowning. This clowning field, educational clowning, is still in its infancy. It is still being created in Israel. And, thanks to my teacher, Talia Safra, I’m part of this amazing adventure. In short, educational clowning -- or, school clowning -- can be described as a stress reliever for students and teachers. Therape
I don’t work on Sundays. While many people around the world don’t work on Sundays, in Israel, where I’m based, Sunday is Day One of the work week. For the past 20 years, I’ve worked on Sundays. As a freelancer, when I take on new clients or enter into new collaborations, I make note right away that I don’t work on Sundays. People inevitably ask why that is. My answer: I’m a therapeutic clown on Sundays. I spend my Sundays in a high school or mental health center, hoping to ea
My school clowning took me to a high school in a low socioeconomic neighborhood of a central city in Israel. The students, we had been told, came from broken homes, single-parent homes and from homes struggling to make ends meet. The youth that greeted us – five newly-minted therapeutic clowns, still learning the ropes of clown care – were just as curious about us as we were about them. Some welcomed us to follow them into their classes, to meet their friends, to open up to u
Educational clowning is a new kind of clown care and taking part in this developing arena is oh-so-much-fun. One recent afternoon, pint-sized people came to try out after-school activities at a local community center in Tel Aviv. There was a movement class and a sorta-ballet class on offer. These little people were excited and nervous; happy and angry; hot, tired and hungry. The parents shared many of the same feelings, with strain and exhaustion topping their lists. A fellow
The new school year has begun in Israel, and as my third-grader and two sixth-graders headed back to their classrooms, I, too, returned to studies. They wore T-shirts emblazoned with their school symbols; I decked out in my “uniform” of striped socks, polka dotted shirt and neon suspenders. I’m continuing my clowning studies. In June, I completed an introductory course to medical clowning at the Kibbutzim College in Tel Aviv. Medical clowning is an officially-recognized parap