magic teacher: tricks enhance education
Karie Angell Luc | For Sun-Times Media | @KarieAngellLuc
day, he’s a Chicago area social worker. By night and on weekends, Gary Kantor of Skokie is a magic man. Kantor, a 1985 Niles North High School graduate, teaches magic at more than 100 suburban park districts and other
venues in Cook, Lake, Kane and DuPage counties.
On Feb. 11, Kantor led a magic class at the Wilmette Park District Community Recreation
Center where grade school-aged children and their parents or caregivers participated.
Kantor swears by the educational value of magic,
which can sharpen mathematics and hand-eye coordination. Fun is the first rule. His favorite all-ages
technique is the red napkin trick. For adults, he enjoys the money change sleight of hand when four dollar bills become larger
Meet Gary Kantor who welcomes inquires at www.garykantor.com. But don’t expect
the magician to give away his secrets, sorry.
Q: So Gary, why is magic so
A: Why is it magical? I think it just appeals
to everyone. It’s that amazement. It’s, “How is that possible?” when logically, it shouldn’t
be happening that way but you’re doing something that just defies reality, defies logic.
Can you offer a short history of your magical journey?
have been doing magic since I was a little kid, been teaching the classes for about nine or 10 years. I probably started when
I was about 7 or 8 years old. My family probably just got me some magic sets. Probably the first one I learned was the simple
ball and vase trick. You have a ball, it disappears, it comes back in the vase, as simple as that. And kids are still using
Q: How is magic so educational to all?
A: There’s a lot of math in magic. I mean, that’s one of things that I like about math. The better you
are at math, I think the better magic tricks you can do. There are some really cool tricks you can do with numbers, so I definitely
encourage kids always to get good at all of the different subjects in school, especially math, science and reading.
So then, magic can really help to enhance education, right?
Absolutely. That’s one of the things that I promote all of the time when I teach my classes. Not just the education
part of it, but also building self confidence, self esteem, you got kids that all of the sudden are out there doing something
that most other kids cannot do.
Q: How does your magic leave kids of all ages amazed?
A: For me, that was the enjoyment, watching something. I would go home and try to figure it
out. That was my nature. I like to try things out. Once I figured that one out, or I bought the trick, I was ready for the
next thing and that’s what’s kept me going over the years, just always finding these new tricks that I love. They
amaze me and now I love to be able to do that to others, to share that same amazement.
Q: So how do you learn “sleight
A: How do you learn that? A lot of practice.
Just a lot of practice. Some of the tricks are very easy to do. You can learn the secret, do it within a couple of seconds.
Others take you weeks, months, years of just practicing to get better and better at it.
Q: How is magic a lifelong journey for you?
A: For one, it’s something that I felt, in order to get good at something, you keep practicing
at it. My thing that I always tell the kids, kids can do the tricks, adults can do the tricks. I mean, keep going for as long
as you can. I’m hoping to do this when I’m, you know, 100 years old.