Stupid Ice Breaker Tricks

If I ever came across this in a workshop or presentation, I’d be headed for the door or flipping the laptop open while praying for wireless. In the September 2004 Training & Development Magazine, under a department of fundamentals is “A Trick For Your Trade”

Are you looking for a lively demonstration of a learning tool to kick off your next learning session? Try this simple card guessing trick. In addition to helping trainees focus on how to use learning tools, this flashy card trick, when sued at the beginning of a seminar, also sets the mood for creative teaching and the intentional learning that follows.

The article goes on to describe this “powerful” card trick thta involved cutting a hole in the corner of the playing card box, obscuring it with your thunmb, and then sneaking a peak when some schmuck in the audience shuffles the desk, and puts random drawn card inserted back in the box. The amazing super presenter astounds the audience when they produce the card drawn.

The author seems to forget to cardinal rule of card tricks of never revealing the secret. Where was he when they taught that in first grade recess?

This simple card trick is an effective icebreaker that sets the tone for the learning that follows. It’s a unique and easy way to illustrate how the tools that will be discussed during the training session are memorable and easy to master, use, and repeat.

I would be horrified and appalled at the use of a cheap trick touted as an icebreaker. I would be lulled to sleep and counting the slow ticks of the clock until the torture of this session would end.

It is cheesy, and has no real relevance to any topic presented. There are 31,900 better suggestions on Google for ice breaker activities.

Ice breakers are excellent, worthwhile things to employ, but do so thoughtfully with your audience in mind. They are worthless without considering the principles of active learning.

It’s no surprise to see such fluff in industry “training” magazines, which to this day still regularly interchange the words “training” and “learning” as equal entities. Training people how to use software, how a sales system works, how to assemble widgets, how to operate a Widgomatic is a far far cry from learning critical thinking, ethics, how to write argumentative essay, solving differential equations. I am not saying one is more important than another, but I do look carefully at how the word “learning” with or witthout an “e” in front, is used in industry mags.

But you gotta be impressed by an author’s web site that consists of one single, lonely web page. Haven;t they had a “training”…. er “learning” session on hyperlinks?

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.