A safe place

People who study how games are designed and played speak of the “magic circle”. They are referring to the safe place where a game is played. In the universe of the game, you and your friend might be pummeling each other in a fist fight, or sending opposing armies into battle, but you are doing it inside the magic circle — both players understand that none of this is real.

There is something similar at work when somebody tells you a story. You might be hearing the most tragic story in the world, yet you are able to enjoy the story without feeling fearful or nervous. You are safely inside the magic circle of fictional narrative.

I wonder whether it’s like that for education: Great teachers build a magic circle, within which students feel relaxed and safe and comfortable, and more receptive to new ideas and ways of thinking. Inside this magic circle — if it is properly constructed — learning flourishes.

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