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  • Viva Sarah Press

Killer clowns vs. School clowns (Art of Conversation)

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

Inevitably, at least once a day at school, Oshi is called a killer clown.

Of course, take one look at Oshi – an educational therapeutic clown – and it is obvious that her fashion sense of dots, stripes, bright colors, flowers, no face makeup or wig and goofy facial expressions aren’t exactly killer clown material.

Yet, the students at the schools at which Oshi works use the name-calling to strike up conversation. And Oshi is only too happy to play along.

The “game” begins with Oshi being told she’s dangerous.

At a middle school in Tel Aviv, a seventh-grader once told Oshi that she was a killer clown and that he needed to run away from her. But he stayed right in front of her. So, Oshi asked for tips on how to be a killer clown, asked him why he wasn’t running away and muddled up pretty much everything he said.

School clown Oshi chats with pupils. 2019.

The student reluctantly concluded that Oshi – who failed to understand every tip he gave on how to be a killer clown – isn’t one, but rather a simple fool. Then he informed his classmates that Oshi was not a killer clown because she did not understand (or have any of) the evil characteristics necessary to be one.

Oshi thanked him for his brilliance in helping decipher who she is – killer clown or school clown. She showered him with compliments in knowing what a killer clown’s features were and how he figured out that Oshi didn’t fit the bill.

While he feigned disinterest, he seemed to love having the full attention of the clown.

Oshi sensed that this student – like so many others she meets when working in schools -- wanted to converse with her but didn’t know how. In today’s world, where real-time talk has been overtaken by texting, conducting a conversation has become a challenge for many.

As such, when Oshi is called a ‘killer clown’ or any other name, she hears what isn’t being said: a request for a conversation. A real chat.

Killer clowns aren’t known as good conversationalists. School clowns are.

Today, soft skills is the buzzword in education and the work place. Better soft skills.

That’s where Oshi and her peers shine: school clowns are easy to talk to. Oshi always ensures that students feel they know more than she does. They can lead the conversation.

Oshi makes sure that they also listen to her, she talks openly about her failures or vulnerabilities in not understanding this or that and seeks their opinions and views on the topic about which they’re talking. Oshi loves when the pupils share their knowledge about topics.

Actually, many of the teachers also seek out conversations with Oshi – although don’t begin the chat with name-calling.

While in the first days at a new school, students and teachers aren’t sure how to interact with Oshi, within a few weeks, both students and teachers seek out the educational clown.

Oshi holds dozens of conversations throughout the school day.

Pupils can learn math, science and language skills at school. Oshi helps with better communication skills.

Everyone wants to feel heard. Everyone wants to be heard. Not everyone knows how to do this.

Oshi is always interested in what the pupil or teacher has to say. Oshi makes eye contact. Oshi actively listens. Oshi asks questions. Oshi shows interest.

These conversations are a highlight of Oshi’s days at the schools.

Update: I clowned in schools from 2018-2019. I now give talks and blog about this out-of-the box experience.

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