Monday, December 7, 2009

Effect of juggling therapy on anxiety disorders in female patients - the whole article is here!

Effect of juggling therapy on anxiety disorders in female patients - Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of juggling therapy for anxiety disorder patients.

Design and Method
Subjects were 17 female outpatients who met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders. Subjects were treated with standard psychotherapy, medication and counseling for 6 months. For the last 3 months of treatment, subjects were randomized into either a non-juggling group (n = 9) or a juggling therapy group (juggling group: n = 8). The juggling group gradually acquired juggling skills by practicing juggling beanbags (otedama in Japan) with both hands. The therapeutic effect was evaluated using scores of psychological testing (STAI: State and Trate Anxiety Inventry, POMS: Profile of Mood Status) and of ADL (FAI: Franchay Activity Index) collected before treatment, 3 months after treatment (before juggling therapy), and at the end of both treatments.

After 6 months, an analysis of variance revealed that scores on the state anxiety, trait anxiety subscales of STAI and tension-anxiety (T-A) score of POMS were significantly lower in the juggling group than in the non-juggling group (p <>

These findings suggest that juggling therapy may be effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Juggling enhances connections in the brain - Oxford University study

11 October 2009

Learning to juggle leads to changes in the white matter of the brain, an Oxford University study has shown.

The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council and published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, appears to show improved connectivity in parts of the brain involved in making movements necessary to catch the balls.

‘We tend to think of the brain as being static, or even beginning to degenerate, once we reach adulthood,’ says Dr Heidi Johansen-Berg of the Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford, who led the work. ‘In fact we find the structure of the brain is ripe for change. We’ve shown that it is possible for the brain to condition its own wiring system to operate more efficiently.

’The researchers at the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) set out to see if changes in the white matter of the brain could be seen in healthy adults on learning a new task or skill.

White matter consists of the bundles of long nerve fibres that conduct electrical signals between nerve cells and connect different parts of the brain together, while the grey matter consists of the nerve cell bodies where the processing and computation in the brain is done. Changes in grey matter following new experiences and learning have been shown. But enhancements in white matter have not previously been demonstrated.

Measuring changes in white matter relied on assessing diffusion MRI images using new methods pioneered by the FMRIB centre at Oxford. The methods are able to compare anatomical features of white matter between individuals or over time.

‘We have demonstrated that there are changes in the white matter of the brain – the bundles of nerve fibres that connect different parts of the brain – as a result of learning an entirely new skill,’ explains Dr Johansen-Berg.

A group of young healthy adults, none of whom could juggle, was divided into two groups each of 24 people. One of the groups was given weekly training sessions in juggling for six weeks and asked to practice 30 minutes every day. Both groups were scanned using diffusion MRI before and after the six-week period.

Juggler, postgraduate student at FMRIB, and first author on the paper, Jan Scholz, said: ‘We challenged half of the volunteers to learn to do something entirely new. After six weeks of juggling training, we saw changes in the white matter of this group compared to the others who had received no training. The changes were in regions of the brain which are involved in reaching and grasping in the periphery of vision, so that seems to make a lot of sense.

’After the training, there was a great variation in the ability of the volunteers to juggle. All could juggle three balls for at least two cascades, but some could juggle five balls and perform other tricks. All showed changes in white matter, however, suggesting this was down to the time spent training and practising rather than the level of skill attained.

‘This exciting new result raises a lot of questions,’ says Dr Johansen-Berg, ‘MRI is an indirect way to measure brain structure and so we cannot be sure exactly what is changing when these people learn. Future work should test whether these results reflect changes in the shape or number of nerve fibres, or growth of the insulating myelin sheath surrounding the fibres.

’ Dr Johansen-Berg says: ‘Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone should go out and start juggling to improve their brains. We chose juggling purely as a complex new skill for people to learn. But there is a ‘use it or lose it’ school of thought, in which any way of keeping the brain working is a good thing, such as going for a walk or doing a crossword.

’‘There are potential clinical applications of this work, although they are a long way off,’ adds Dr Johansen-Berg. ‘Knowing that pathways in the brain can be enhanced may be significant in the long run in coming up with new treatments for neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, where these pathways become degraded.

For more information please contact Dr Heidi Johansen-Berg on +44 (0)1865 222548, +44 (0)7775 610798 or the Press Office, University of Oxford on +44 (0)1865 280530 or
Notes to editors

* ‘Training induces changes in white matter architecture’ by Jan Scholz and colleagues is to be published in the journal Nature Neuroscience with an embargo of 18:00 BST (UK time) / 13:00 ET (US) on Sunday 11 October 2009.
* The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.
* The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending over £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.
* For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 28 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including the first antibiotic penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century.
* Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division is one of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe. It represents almost one-third of Oxford University’s income and expenditure, and two-thirds of its external research income. Oxford’s world-renowned global health programme is a leader in the fight against infectious diseases (such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and avian flu) and other prevalent diseases (such as cancer, stroke, heart disease and diabetes). Key to its success is a long-standing network of dedicated Wellcome Trust-funded research units in Asia (Thailand, Laos and Vietnam) and Kenya, and work at the MRC Unit in The Gambia. Long-term studies of patients around the world are supported by basic science at Oxford and have led to many exciting developments, including potential vaccines for tuberculosis, malaria and HIV, which are in clinical trials.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brain likes juggling

Characters - Polish Psychological Magazine
Nr 5/2005

Brain likes juggling
Mirosław Urban, Paweł Fortuna, Piotr Markiewicz

We consider juggling a circus trick. However, a systematic juggling practice allows us to develop our brain, improve concentration and coordination, and helps us to keep a proper body posture.

Every time we drink tea, put on our shoes or run down the stairs, we do not ponder on how complicated the movements performed by our body are. We only start wondering on the precision and perfection of movement when we admire amazing shows delivered by figure skaters, acrobats, or jugglers. Their skills seem impossible for ordinary people, yet it turns out that practically everyone can master them. Moreover, neuropsychological research proves that such seemingly weird and pointless skills are highly beneficial for us.

Unusual discovery
A team of scientists from the University of Regensburg, led by Bogdan Draganski, carried out an experiment whose results became famous in the world of neuroscience. Researches divided the subjects into two groups – the first group was supposed to learn over a period of there months how to juggle with three balls for at least one minute. The second group did not undergo this sort of training. The researchers systematically scanned brain structures using magnetic resonance imagining in order to compare both groups – they were looking for changes in the grey matter of the brain caused by regular juggling training. After three months, the researches noticed in the brains of the juggling group a significant increase in the volume of the grey matter in the area of the left posterior parietal cortex (area 3) and on both sides in the mid-temporal part of the brain (area 2). These areas specialise among others in processing and storing information on how we perceive objects and anticipate their motion.
The results of the experiment are interesting due to at least two reasons. First of all, they prove that brain development is possible not only during our childhood but also during later phases of our life. Secondly, even seemingly pointless exercises, such as juggling with three balls, can develop brain tissue in a similar manner as weight lifting can develop our muscles. It is obvious that these observations are significant for possibilities of rehabilitation and reconstruction of brain tissue damaged during tragic accidents or diseases.

Rat race and brain abracadabra
The results received by Draganski and his team confirm findings of earlier research into correlations between animal behaviour and developments of their brains. Marian Diamond from the University of California proved that rats living in cages filled with shelves, stairs, and running wheels had a better developed network of interconnections between cells in the visual cortex than rats kept in empty cages. In addition, Carl Cartman, another researcher from the University of California, discovered that brains of rats kept in running wheels produce an increased amount of neurotrophins, which are proteins responsible for differentiation and growth of brain cells and interconnections between neurons. These results suggest that the richness of one’s experience positively stimulates the development of one’s brain.

Brain architecture of juggling
In Draganski’s experiment, changes were observed in the parts of the brain called „advanced perceptive processing” areas – responsible for noticing objects and anticipating their trajectories. A three-month-long training stimulated the development in these areas, which generate a precise motion-space map for a given task. However, these areas are responsible only for a fragment of the brain’s activity which is required for juggling. The extreme complexity of juggling can be well illustrated by the number of brain parts involved in it. In order to coordinate the movement of balls in the air, our brain has to plan positions of the hands, head and whole body. These functions are managed by the prefrontal cortex (area 1). This is the place where the plan of action is created and from where the whole process of juggling is controlled. It is possible thanks to a synthesis of perceptive data (area 2) and information on the position of the body (area 3). The ready plan of movements is then transmitted to premotor cortex (area 4). The responsibilities of this area also include the initial stage of processing of all data necessary for performing any action. Similarly to playing the piano or eating a hamburger, maintaining the movement of three balls in the air requires a complex sequence of movements. The coordination of this sequence is managed by so called the supplementary motor cortex (area 5). Then it is the turn for the “proper juggler”, which is the motor cortex (area 6). Thanks to this part of the brain the whole trick is possible. Also significant roles in the whole process are played by the basal ganglia (area 7) and the cerebellum (area 8). The basal ganglia are mainly responsible for creating the sequence of juggling movements, while the cerebellum allows us to keep our balance during juggling, control motion of eye balls, program the order of movements, and introduce routine into the initially demanding and highly complex action of juggling. If the cerebellum is damaged then a significant delay in catching the balls may be observed – it is connected with difficulties in moving the attention of eyes from one ball to another. The remaining parts of this brain jigsaw are filled in by the brainstem (area 9) and spinal cord (area 10). These areas are responsible for controlling the muscles, which take part in juggling, muscular tension and a proper posture.

Juggling for everyone
Psychological research supports the thesis that juggling is beneficial for hand-eye co-ordination, sense of rhythm, reflexes, and also sense of balance and a proper posture of the body. Therefore, it is not surprising that psychologists increasingly often recommend juggling as a treatment in many dysfunctions. For example, the Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Attention Disorder (DDAT) centre in Kenilworth, UK, introduced into its therapies various forms of exercises such as catching balls, juggling, and keeping balance on “Rola-Bola”, which is a board placed on a moving tube. Research conducted by Carole Smith, an American PE specialist, suggests that juggling – and resulting from it improvements in eye-hand co-ordination – help to develop writing and reading skills.
Also many teachers in Poland are convinced about positive effects of juggling – they encourage children to get involved in various unusual activities, which are commonly labelled as the circus pedagogy. By learning juggling, acrobatic stunts, clown shows, pantomime and black theatre, children gain awareness of their body, master complex sequences of movements and train concentration.

Juggling is becoming even more popular among adults interested in developing their personal skills. Since the beginning of the 1980s, managers and employees of companies have been learning to juggle at seminars and workshops devoted to personal development, time management and project realisation. In many corporate bodies, such as Bell Labs, Microsoft, Apple Corporation or Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there are active juggling clubs. More and more often juggling skills are seen as obligatory for managerial staff. It is also worth noting that the verb “to juggle” may also mean an ability to cope with several issues simultaneously. Throwing balls may serve therefore a splendid metaphor for realising several projects at once. Just as adding another ball requires a total reorganisation of the movement sequence, in a similar manner introducing new duties forces us to adjust the current plan of action.

Juggling also turned out to be a successful form of reducing the stress level. Juggling introduces into a relaxed state of concentration, during which the mind and the body are active and calm at the same time. Increasing number of doctors and therapists recognises the therapeutic value of juggling. O. Carl Simonton, a doctor and psychooncologist, introduced juggling as a form of relaxation for patients in one of the US hospitals. He considers juggling a great form of therapy, which teaches how to avoid being concerned with trivial matters. However, a mere awareness of beneficial consequences of juggling is not enough to make juggling one of our daily activities at school or work. Apart from a good teacher, clear instruction, determination, and a few minutes of spare time, it is necessary to overcome a prejudice that juggling is only suitable for street conjurers and not for ordinary people. We suggest to substitute it with another prejudice: a well developed brain – that’s too difficult for me. As you can see it will be much easier to get rid of this second conviction. We would like to wish you many successes in your juggling training!

Mirosław Urban is a psychologist and a career advisor. He specialises in introducing modern strategies of improving professional competence of business and education employees and public organisations. For two years he has been professionally involved in juggling. He leads juggling workshops for adults, teenagers and children.
Paweł Fortuna is a psychologist, a research fellow at the Department of Experimental Psychology at the Catholic University of Lublin. He is involved in psychological research on psychology of persuasive communication and analysis mass media messaging. He runs his own consulting company Fortuna & Fortuna. He has been fascinated by juggling for about a year.

Piotr Markiewicz is a philosopher and psychologist, perspective Ph.D at the Department of Experimental Psychology at the Catholic University of Lublin (currently working on Ph.D thesis on representation of chronological order of events). He is interested in cognitive processes from the perspective of neurocognitive science.

Juggling kids beat dyslexia

Juggling kids beat dyslexia

A pioneering method to treat dyslexia sufferers appears to be helping a group of West Midlands schoolchildren to get over the learning disorder.Pupils at Balsall Common Primary School near Solihull were tested in January 2001, with 40 identified as potentially having dyslexia.

Over the last two years, the children have been taking part in daily hand-eye co-ordination tests, involving exercises such as catching bean-bags and balancing on "wobble boards". The school claims the new approach, pioneered by the Kenilworth Dyslexia Centre, has proved highly successful.

Headmaster Trevor Davis said the academic achievements of some of the pupils who have been taking part in the exercises has been very noticeable."(There has been a) 300 to 400 % improvement in many cases in terms of their results," he said."SATS results have improved and, on top of that, self-esteem."

Jake Powell, who was identified as a dyslexia sufferer, said the approach has worked for him." Ever since I started the exercises my levels have gone higher and I am now on a 3C level," he said.His father John Powell is also a fan of the treatment."I believe that system works and I believe it should be put into part of the education system," he said.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Dyslexia Institute, which assesses children nationally, said she would like to see more research into the findings."It's encouraging that some children have seen improvements, but the researchers who've looked at this are very concerned about the methodology", she said.

"We need to do more long-term research to see why it works for some kids and not others."

Juggling for success - article by Michelle Miller

Juggling for success

Students in a juggling class have fun, learn hand-eye coordination and get a boost to their self-esteem that helps them with other aspects of their lives.
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 29, 2001

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Kristen Jadick was tossing three neon-colored scarves in the air as she and her fifth-grade classmates learned to juggle.

"This is fun," said 11-year-old Kristen, taking a break from doing a juggling maneuver called a reverse cascade. "Usually when you go to school it's work. This is neat."

Juggling was on the agenda Aug. 22 for all students at Deer Park Elementary School during their physical education classes. Also involved were teachers, who were treated to a morning juggling workshop, and parents, who were invited to attend a special family juggling night with their children.

Best of all, students who learned the skills during the day had the opportunity to teach their parents and cheer them on during the evening presentation.

This was the second time Dave Finnigan and his children, Dorothy, 17, and Ben, 13, have come out to Deer Park to teach the "Juggling for Success" workshop. The Finnigans, who live in Celebration, have been trekking to schools across the country for the past nine years.

While the workshop is fun, a lot of learning is also going on, said physical education teacher Sandra Cooper.

Dave Finnigan is a taskmaster when it comes to following directions. He instructed the children to "sit down, put your scarves behind you, and your hands on your knees," when it came time to teach them the next move.

Juggling also helps hone reading and writing skills because of the hand-eye coordination needed to follow scarves or balls as they are being juggled, Cooper said.

"It helps with motor skills, sequencing skills and especially self-esteem," she said. "Sometimes the kids that are the least athletic are the best jugglers."

Some students, like 10-year-old Zachary Garner, got to strut their stuff on stage after being selected for catching on quick. "That was cool," said Zachary after enjoying his spot in the limelight.

"It's a real positive experience being on stage -- it's an instant confidence boost," said accomplished juggler Dorothy Finnigan, who described herself as being "painfully shy" before performing and teaching with her dad nine years ago. "Some of these kids may have a little trouble reading or spelling, but hey, they can juggle."

While juggling is a fun ego booster, and perhaps academic, it's also hard work, said 10-year-old B.J. Wright, who proved it by breaking into a sweat.

"It was fun," said B.J., "but it was definitely challenging.

Training-Induced Brain Structure Changes in the Elderly

Training-Induced Brain Structure Changes in the Elderly

Janina Boyke, Joenna Driemeyer, Christian Gaser, Christian Büchel and Arne May

Department of Systems Neuroscience, University of Hamburg, D-22046 Hamburg, Germany, and Department of Psychiatry, University of Jena, 07740 Jena, Germany

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Arne May, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Department of Systems Neuroscience, University of Hamburg, Martinistrasse 52, D-22046 Hamburg, Germany. Email:

It has been suggested that learning is associated with a transient and highly selective increase in brain gray matter in healthy young volunteers. It is not clear whether and to what extent the aging brain is still able to exhibit such structural plasticity. We built on our original study, now focusing on healthy senior citizens. We observed that elderly persons were able to learn three-ball cascade juggling, but with less proficiency compared with 20-year-old adolescents. Similar to the young group, gray-matter changes in the older brain related to skill acquisition were observed in area hMT/V5 (middle temporal area of the visual cortex). In addition, elderly volunteers who learned to juggle showed transient increases in gray matter in the hippocampus on the left side and in the nucleus accumbens bilaterally.

The Power of Laughter and Play

Juggler's World: Vol. 39, No. 4
The Power of Laughter and Play
by Orrel Lanter

Berkowitz began teaching juggling as a way to alleviate stress two years ago after finding that the high tensions of the emergency room were becoming detrimental to his own peace of mind.

Juggling doctors (1-r) Simonton, Allen and Berkowitz (Michael Taradash photo)

Doctor 0. Carl Simonton, pioneer in the field of stress and cancer research, hastily opens an umbrella, dons a football helmet and braces himself... Wave after wave of marshmallows bombard the stage as he faces an audience of 1,000 people unwilling to stop their hilarious assault. Simonton is the final speaker in a lineup of well-known names -- anthropologist Ashley Montagu, comedian Michael Pritchard and editor Norman Cousins (on film). The Institute for the Advancement of Human Behaviors' "Power of Laughter and Play" conference in San Francisco is the latest in a semi-annual series of such seminars over the past six years.

For three days medical professionals from around the globe are here to challenge the mores of traditional medical treatment in managing and preventing disease. They are learning how to de-stress their own lives with humor. Simonton began on a very serious note, speaking of his own speciality - the importance of imagery in the treatment of cancer. "Studies implemented in the past five years are finding how strongly emotions influence health," he said. It was the remarkable recovery of former Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins that sparked renewed interest in the medical community in the emotional side of health. Cousins wrote "Anatomy of an Illness" in 1979 to chronicle his use of laughter as a weapon in overcoming a terminal illness.

Simonton began research with cancer patients in his Pacific Palisades, Calif., clinic. He directs patients to shift their focus in order to loosen the tenacious grip of pain and fear that cancer creates. "Laughter and play break up hopelessness," Simonton declares.
Learning to juggle was a personal insight for him as well. "I spent 35 years learning that I couldn't juggle," he recalls. "Only to have a pediatrician friend teach me in 15 minutes one day that I could." He then told the thousand people in the audience that it was time they, too, learned to juggle. He innocently passed out marshmallows and asked people to toss them up and catch them. Self-consciously at first, they began throwing the white puffs gingerly from hand to hand. As they gained confidence and relaxed, the horseplay began. Someone was hit with a maliciously tossed marshmallow. Someone laughed at that. Retaliation ensued and quickly escalated. The room looked like the inside of a popcorn popper, with marshmallows launched from every corner. Simonton on the stage was an obvious and frequent target. For 20 minutes it was "Animal House." When calm finally returned, Simonton closed his lumpy umbrella and said, "Occasionally our inner voice of health takes a bizarre turn. This amazing display is an excellent example!'

Besides workshops, the conference hires clowns, mimes and face painters to create an atmosphere of playfulness that invites people to unwind. One such entertainer was Dr. Barry Berkowitz, a former Berkeley, Calif., emergency room physician, who roamed the conference wearing a white lab coat and juggling a hypodermic syringe, bed pan and stethoscope. All the while he tossed out one-liners from routines he uses in his anti-stress seminar called "Juggling is Good Medicine."
Berkowitz began teaching juggling as a way to alleviate stress two years ago after finding that the high tensions of the emergency room were becoming detrimental to his own peace of mind. "Juggling is a metaphor for letting go of the weight of problems we place upon ourselves," Berkowitz says. "I developed a juggling workshop for medical professionals and corporations aimed at reducing those tensions." People crowded around him while Berkowitz continued his "Incredible Medical Juggle. "As a doctor and a juggler I'm always battling against inevitable forces - death and gravity," he said, flashing a grin. "Only now, if I make a mistake you can boo me, but you can't sue me!" The audience groaned good-naturedly, obviously delighted to be getting personal instruction from the affable Berkowitz.

Dr. Steve Allen Jr. instructed under the seminar title "He Who Laughs Last, Lasts." It was packed. Son of entertainers Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows, he maintains a family practice in upstate New York. He began his talk with a brain-twister. He said, "Never underestimate the unimportance of everything." With that he passed out scarves to 500 people and proceeded to instruct them in "Health Through Creative Silliness." His "guilt-free drop" quickly became a crowd pleaser. Scarves floated lazily around the room with frantic hands plucking at them. Occasionally it accidentally developed into a two-person run-around. But to Allen's absolute un-surprise, all did learn how to juggle... after a fashion. But the instant benefit was the fun most people had in turning the kid inside them loose again. "My goal is not necessarily to teach people how to juggle, but to get them feeling playful and laughing," he said. "I try to do two things. One is to lay the intellectual and emotional groundwork for humor, which really does have positive biological benefits. The second is just to let people know they can be playful and should seek it out each day." Simonton and Allen are speakers at each of the institute's seminars. At the next one, scheduled for March 17-20 in Anaheim, Calif., Allen will appear with his father (who is not a juggler) to make a presentation on "Entertaining Healers and Healing Entertainers."

The younger Allen said stress reduction seminars have become a larger and larger part of his professional life since he learned to juggle from the Klutz book in 1982. He now does 30-40 seminars a year, including the two with Simonton at The Power of Life and Play conferences.
"I was asked to speak on employee health at Cornell shortly after that," he said. "I figured people would learn better if they had a good time, so I took alone 300 tennis balls. It turned out to be the best thing I did there. "Then I met Dave Finnigan at the IJA Purchase convention and he asked me if I had tried using scarves instead of tennis balls. I came back with about 100 dozen and have done programs now for 75,000 people!" The three bearded doctors, together, looking a bit like the Smith Brothers of old cough drop fame, did much to enhance the lighthearted mood of the weekend. Participants agreed that if this was the beginning of the decline of somberness in medicine... it showed exceptional promise!

Juggling Courageously

Juggler's World, Winter 1989-90
Juggling Courageously
by Barrett L. Dorko

How many times have you heard - "You're a juggler? Wow! You must really be coordinated!"
Despite my skills, I have always felt slightly uneasy about this. I mean, I don't play the piano or the guitar. Athletically I'm average for most parts. I wouldn't put "really coordinated" on my resume or a job application.

Recently I spent a couple of hours teaching juggling at a local festival. Like many of you, I watched the children race toward me, eager to try and thrilled with the least little progression of their skills. Their parents hung back, watchful and happy for the kids, but slightly uneasy. There was noting to indicate that these lessons were not available to them as well. Still, they stood there, using their age and past failures as an excuse for not trying.

It struck me that juggling is not essentially an act of coordination; it is an act of courage.
In a landmark psychological study, Barbara Brown discovered that the vast majority of anxiety we experience arises from "anticipated interpersonal disapproval." The fear of appearing foolish or inadequate can paralize someone who is ordinarily active, outgoing and successful. Think about how learning to juggle creates the appearance of foolishness and inadequacy. No wonder the adults hesitate to try.

At a typical meeting of the Rubber City Jugglers it's easy to tell the new members from the veterans. The new ones are scared while the "jugglers" display the courage necessary to attempt new and potentially unsuccessful acts. Using this criteria, the child who delights in the act of the first throw is at that point every bit the juggler that I am. No one would call the child coordinated. But I know we share a bond. We are amoing those who face failure and the appearance of inadequacy over and over again. In this sense we are couageous and we reap the benefits of that behaviour - higher self-esteem and the admiration of others. Does the audience realise this? Of course! Don't they applaud the loudest when we do somthing that appears dangerous, even though it doesn't require the skill needed for other tricks?

The implications for teaching juggling with this in mind are clear. Carlo and Gelb both advocates that the beginner "freeze" instead of chasing misses. Learning theory may explain the effectiveness of this in one way, but it is also evident that not being forced to chase your props around the room cuts down on the appearance of foolishness. This makes the high percentage of early drops easier to swallow.

The next time you teach another person, or learn something new yourself, think of the courage it takes to try something new and invite failure into your life. Praise your students for bravery before thay actually learn the trick. They'll be more likely to stick with it, and so will you. One day you may even hear, "You're a juggler? Wow! You must be really brave!"

Some Notes On Juggling

Some Notes On Juggling

Juggling teaches us patience and shows us that if we persevere we can do things we might not have at first believed possible. It also makes us believe that apparently impossible things are sometimes a result of our rather channelled thinking. It is a wonderful life enhancer and a strange mixture of mental and physical exercise. It's a very positive learning experience.

A friend told me the following story:
A little boy and his father walk into a juggling shop and the boy stares at one of the attendants who is juggling five balls. He is transfixed by the wonderful pattern. The dad whispers in his ear "how many balls do you think he's juggling, can you count them?"
The boy takes a few minuets to reply and says "I counted twenty but I think I might have counted the same ball twice."

There are various reasons for juggling. One is to impress your friends; another is to improve your concentration. Yet another is to feel the excitement of actually learning something really new. Perhaps another is to relax and let go of tension. They're loads of reasons for juggling. Personally I found that the experience was a very positive one, a great confidence builder. I was never a sporty kid at school and when I was given three balls I doubted very much weather I was ever going to be able to juggle all three. But I did feel confident I might be able to do two. After two days hammering away at three balls, like those mathematical problems that just seem to go from impossibly hard to obvious in an instant, I was suddenly juggling three balls. The experience wonderful. Perhaps its the same sort of feeling when a toddler makes his or hers first real steps!

It took me about a week to get three balls going well and reliably. Four balls was just about working after two months, while five balls took me about three years (by doing an hour or so a day). I have been practising six balls for about four years and its not much better than when I started! Someone estimated that with each ball that is added to a pattern the difficulty is increased by perhaps 10 times. It is bit daunting but at the same time one gets instant feedback as to how well we are doing and so it is also marvellously rewarding.

The mind is a wonderful pattern recognition machine. For example it somehow manages to learn language when we are very young, apparently from scratch! To juggle well, especially in the early stages, it is best if you can turn this pattern recognition system off (the one you have spent your whole life, at schools, colleges and universities turning on!). In other words people who are very good at analysing and thinking about problems are usually very bad at the initial stages of juggling if they try and use there mind to 'work it out'.

The best way of juggling is to try and feel the rhythm in the arms and hands necessary to move the balls in the way they need to. Watch a juggler and try to visualise/feel the rhythm not the pattern of balls. My mind is not fast enough to visualise the pattern of the balls, for say five balls, but I can still juggle five well! That's because I have absorbed or learnt the rhythm. It took me a long time to realise this and when I did it really helped. I once taught someone to juggle who swore that he would never be able to do it. I put on some music got him to bend his knees to the rhythm, this made his arms move in rhythm and he was juggling almost straight away - his face was wonderful to see. It feels like magic when you first get the juggle working. It's almost as if the balls do the work! It's one of those eureka moments.

Let's take three balls. Place two balls in your dominant hand (the right hand if you are right handed) and the other ball in the other hand. Throw one of the two up in the air and in an arc that might take it a few feet high and heading in roughly the direction, and position, of your other hand. Don't worry about how well it was thrown; just get used to doing it. Next when you are happy about that repeat this throw but now when the first ball is just about to come down (i.e. it is at the top of its throw and about to come down) throw the other ball in the other hand. Throw this ball in a similar arc to the first but obviously heading in the other direction toward the hand that first threw the first ball. Try to resist the temptation to pass the second ball to the other hand (its amazing difficult sometimes)! Next when this is about to come down throw the last ball which was still in the first hand. Don't worry about catching the balls for now, just get used to the pattern, err rhythm....

After all three balls have been thrown you might have been lucky enough to have caught all of them and if so you have just 'flashed' the balls i.e. you did a complete circuit and caught all the balls. If you didn't catch any of the balls then three balls will be on the floor and thats very good - honest. The next thing you have to do is just practice this loads and loads of times (but not probably as many as you might think). When you start to be able to catch the balls don't stop at three throws, immediately go on and continue the pattern as far as you can. You will find that the balls and hands are, by some miracle, in the right place at the right time! but only if you don't think about it (too much) and manage to find 'that rhythm'.

As you progress you will realise that the eyes only really need to see where the balls are when they are at the top of their respective throws (trajectories). It does not matter where the balls are the rest of the time because the brain and hands know that (somehow). If you close your eyes, or blink fast, between the various tops of the balls flights you can still juggle quite OK.

The pattern the balls make is dependent on ones skill and on the number of balls. Odd number patterns (i.e. 3, 5 and 7 balls) cross over very naturally from one hand to another. Even number juggles (i.e. 2, 4, 6 balls) are usually the same pattern repeated in each hand, with no crossing over. For example, the standard four-ball juggle is actually two balls juggled in each hand. It is possible to juggle four balls so they cross but it is rather like juggling five balls but with one of them missing. I can do this now but it took me ages and ages to a) believe it was possible at all and b) to do it well. Now that I can do it I don't know what all the fuss was about but that's a strange normality in the world of juggling. Obviously because juggling gets harder with more balls there are dozens and dozens of possible 3 and 4 ball patterns and far less for the 5 ball patterns. With 7 and 9 balls its about as much as one can do just to get the most 'simplest' pattern going steadily.

It seems common sense that juggling must be good for co-ordination. All through my schooling I had very bad problems reading and writing. I went to an educational psychologist and he said I had 'spelling difficulties' (an amazing observation - not). He ran lots of test and one was very simple. He told me to roll up a piece of paper and to use it to look out of the window. This unconsciously reveals which eye is dominant because you automatically look through the tube through this eye. We all tend to use one eye more than another when we initially look at things. I apparently used the 'wrong' eye for my particular handedness and he told me that this might lead me to having co-ordination problems. He also told me that this might account for my reading and writing difficulties. Once I knew this I understood why I could never get a snooker cue under my eye or why when I was at a fair ground I could never use the gun sights on the pop guns! Strangely though I managed to juggle quite well, once I had educated my self from believing that I couldn't do it. Why was this? I think to answer this we must go back to the 'rhythm theory'. I think that in juggling the important thing is a) believing that you can do it and b) expanding the minds capability to spontaneously find the rhythm to crack the problem. When the mind tries to take over doing this in a very logical analytical way it gets all confused. This may be partly because when we think deeply time apparently goes faster than when we are relaxed. So perhaps this changing of mental time keeping when you try and work out the juggling throws one all out of timing and actually makes juggling harder. In other words, the ball has moved on by the time you work out where it should have been!

Our education system is very much based on analytical methods of learning. Perhaps in sports and drama we make use of this 'rhythm' but hardly in science or geography. If we could somehow use this rhythm in academic education who knows what it might achieve. It might be that people who are naturally good at a particular subject are actually using this rhythm deep within them. Perhaps they have tuned in somehow to the subject, it inspires them in such a way that they 'feel' the subject and so do better than those that cant. I think this shows us just one way in which education might change / advance in the future. But then again I might just have dropped my self (or was it a ball) into it.

Juggling and Health

Juggler's World: Vol. 38, No. 1

Juggling and Health

by George Niedzialkowski
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A treatise on juggling and health

Playing its part in the transition to a holistic society

"Juggle three of these and call me in the morning..."

Wouldn't you love to hear your doctor say those words and mean it? Well, apparently there is a lot more to this business of juggling than meets the eye. Here and there, researchers are finding out things about our brains and bodies that indicate juggling can be a valuable creator of sound physical and mental health.

A Princeton researcher, Les Fehme (see Brain/Mind Bulletin vol. 8, no. 9. May 1983), suggest we can optimize our overall performance in life by broadening our focus. Juggling is one excellent way to do that. He claims most people have a narrow focus, a lack of awareness of their own body sensations or emotions. This narrow focus can be very absorbing and useful, as when talking on the telephone, driving a motorcycle or getting a massage. It is as if nothing else exists except that. When learning how to juggling, the narrow focus can be directed at a certain ball or pin.

This narrow focus agrees with observations that we live in a society which sees things as fragments rather than holistic. But things are changing. And just maybe, juggling is helping to change it.

In 1983 a Canadian researcher, Justine Sergent, from McGill University in Montreal, found evidence which challenges the notion of left brain being analytic and right brain being holistic. Instead, her findings show the left hemisphere better at detailed processing (the narrow focus) and the right hemisphere better at larger aspects of perception. The findings found also both sides of the brain were analytic and holistic.

The study further suggested, because as a society we "see" life and things as fragments (a ball or pin instead of the pattern), this may explain why there are more right-handed people.

But, don't despair. A recent "striking" discovery according to one researcher, Brenda Spiegler of Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. (see Brain/Mind Bulletin vol. 19, no. 6. March 1984) showed left-handedness on the increase. Not only that, but according to a test performed at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio (see Perspective vol. 2, no. 4. August 1980), lefties scored higher in creativity than right-handers regardless of age. It went on to explain four aspects of creativity -- flexibility, fluency, originality and elaboration.

Since the right hemisphere is normally associated with creativity, then any activity which helps to awaken this suppressed hemisphere is certainly welcome. Enter juggling. Who could argue juggling does not use both sides of the brain? Both hands are used in juggling, aren't they?

Jugglers learn in a narrow focus situation. Recall how most people learn to read. First, they learn to recognize the letters (the ball or pin). Then they learn to recognize the word (the juggling pattern). However, once this basic juggling "pattern" (the word) has been learned, then the focus can shift to a higher level still (the words become a sentence). An example of this would be a juggler on a rola-bola.

If an accomplished juggler now wants to learn a new trick, once again the focus must become narrow, the ball or pin must capture the attention (enter left-brain activity). Like a beginning new juggler, he or she must focus on throwing a double flip with the right hand before the left hand can throw a pin behind the back.

It appears juggling, like life itself, is a paradox. To catch we must not reach. To see the pattern we must not look at its parts. To learn we must unlearn.

Unlearn what? To stop doing habitual things. To stop and become aware when you've done something correct, but be able to pause when you detect it not being correct. This crucial moment of pause, according to Michael Gelb, author of Body Learning (see Brain Mind Bulletin vol. 9, no. 3. January 1984), is when a thought begins, and it is these thoughts that will break our old habits. We need also to observe others who are skilled, "images of excellence should always have a quality of ease. Experts always make what they do look easy," says Gelb. Next, see how it feels to do the task, learn with our bodies. Could you juggle if you read three books on juggling... five... twenty?

In teaching people to juggle, they learn faster when asked to tell each time they have done something wrong. At first, they have no awareness of wrong movements. Once they recognize them, they can eliminate them.

Is it possible I am making more of this business of juggling than is really so? In October and November 1984, the Public Broadcasting System filmed a series of eight programs entitled "The Brain." On one particular evening they showed how energy moves along neurons horizontally from back to front of the brain for the sense of sight. Also, energy moves from top to bottom, or vertically, for movement. While all this was being explained, a juggler was seen on the screen. I wondered why they used a juggler to illustrate this delicate brain relationship.

According to Bonnie Benjamin, a spokeswoman for the producers of the series, WNET, the scene was used to illustrate two pathways in the brain meeting: vision and movement.

To quote George Page, narrator of the series, "Pathmaking is at the heart of all learned movement. The brain must experiment over and over again before it can discover the best route from one nerve cell to another. In performing a task at which vision is important, two systems, vision and movement, must find where and how to intersect. One by one, neurons connect with each other. A connection is extended. Soon it's a trail, ultimately a pathway. Cooperation between these two pathways can only be achieved through repetition."

Therefore it is essential to practice in order to learn juggling. The simplest movement requires complex electrical/chemical circuitry within the brain. The study of this circuitry is fast becoming an important field of neuroscience.

Perhaps some day neurosurgeons will electronically "hook up" a juggler and monitor the neuron action which travels back and forth between the two hemispheres during juggling... on that greatest of all pathways in the brain -- the corpus callosum.

It appears a key word in all this juggling business is practice. Neuroscience tells us practice creates or builds the desired pathways in the brain. But is there even more to it than this?

Possibly. Morphogenetic fields. Morphic resonance. Nicknamed M-fields. It is a theory being scientifically tested by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake of Nottinghamshire England. In essence, Dr. Sheldrake is saying not only does "creating" a physical pathway in your brain allow you to become a better juggler, but it allows others to become better also, through the M-field. (For information regarding this M-field theory, contact the author through Juggler's World.)

But we are a people who love to place stress on ourselves, even when we know it is only a game. How can we then learn to juggle, to take in this new information, with less stress?

Well, there are at least two doctors who have an opinion or feeling about that. At a 1983 conference entitled "The Healing Power of Laughter and Play" in Chicago, Dr. O. Carl Simonton began his lecture to approximately 750 people by giving them a few moments of instruction on how to juggle. Then three marshmallows were passed out to every person. On cue, 2250 marshmallows were flying around looking for the M-field pattern! Needless to say, Dr. Simonton had made a point. Juggling is fun.

Likewise, Dr. Steve Allen Jr. conducts workshops in stress management. Not only does he employ juggling as a major ingredient for relieving stress, but he adds, "there is something powerful about repetitive exercises such as juggling," as they pertain to health.

In addition, Dr. Allen uses juggling to reduce stress because, "it brings forth the creative use of silliness," which was originally defined as "blessed, prosperous and healthy." Yet, Dr. Allen's most important point for his clients/patients is "just keep it fun... and play!"

There will always be those who want or need a very definite purpose for juggling before they try it out. So how about this... Healthwise magazine reports Dartmouth Medical School has shown that rowing is the best exercise as far as maximal aerobic stimulation is concerned. Their reason for investigation was to find out what ripe old people (85 and up) did as activities that may have contributed to their longevity. They looked at joggers versus orchestra conductors also. The conclusion the writer drew from the Dartmouth investigation was, "it would be prudent for us to give it the benefit of the doubt by performing arm exercises every day and even 'conducting' the music we listen to at home."

Enter again juggling... arm exercise if there ever was any!

Emergency Room Juggler

Juggler's World: Vol. 39, No. 1

Emergency Room Juggler
Take three of these, and see me in the morning.
Doctor leaves hospital, juggles into the sunset.

by Orrel Lanter

By 11 p.m. the emergency room at Brookside, a hospital in one of San Francisco's more violent areas, had seen its share of the Saturday night crazies. A stabbing, two shootings and a cardiac arrest. But for a few brief moments there was a lull in the action.

Dr. Barry Berkowitz, the wiry, curly-haired doctor in charge, glanced at a sobbing child. She had a gash on her leg that was going to require stitches. "Watch this," he whispered to her conspiratorially. Grabbing three rolls of gauze, he juggled them over his head and behind his back. The little girl giggled, astonished to see the doctor playing. Her anxious parents relaxed noticeably. "Now, let's have a look at that cut," Berkowitz suggested. The child complied. A juggler was no one to be afraid of.

Berkowitz, 41, began juggling in 1978 when he picked up the rudiments of his craft on vacation on a beach in Maui. After watching an acquaintance juggle tennis balls, he spent the better part of the day trying to juggle rocks. When he returned home to Berkeley, he learned that Ho Chi Minh Park, as it was known in those days, was a meeting place for jugglers on Saturdays. He started practicing with them. As his skills increased, he was reluctant to put it aside. His juggling followed him into the emergency room.

Because of his predilection, Berkowitz was regarded as a bit of a character by many of his medical colleagues, although his medical abilities were never in question. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude from Queen's College, N.Y., and earned his medical degree from State University of New York. A year of internship at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego followed, and then a year overseas as battalion surgeon with the Third Marine Division off the coast of Viet Nam.

He wound up in the Bay Area after being stationed for a final year at the Naval Dispensary on Treasure Island. It was during this time that he developed a passion for the excitement and challenge of emergency medicine. Upon discharge from the military he began an 11-year career as an emergency room physician.

He didn't keep his juggling ability a secret. So it wasn't long before nurses were approaching him with, "Doc, the patient in room six could sure use a juggle." Performances in the convalescent wards and hospital shows followed. He found it a welcome relief from the pressures of the emergency room.

"I developed an 'Incredible Medical Juggle' using a stethoscope, hypodermic syringe and bed pan," he chuckled. Patients started asking for Dr. Juggles. He appeared on KQED-TV's "Salute to Juggling" program and on "Real People" and "Good Morning America." Night club bookings followed.

"It was a lot more fun than emergency rooms," he mused. "I enjoy making people laugh. Hey, I spent summers in the Catskills earning money for medical school. I loved the 'schtick' I saw on stage there. The idea of becoming a comedian crossed my mind many times back then. My concerned folks took me aside and told me, 'Barry, we're not pushing you to become a doctor... a lawyer or a dentist would also be O.K.'"

In 1983 at the IJA convention in Purchase, N.Y., he met Dr. Steve Allen Jr., son of entertainers Jayne Meadows and Steve Allen. They discussed their interests in the combination of medicine and juggling and an idea germinated. Berkowitz recalled, "I was already aware of the inherent stress-reducing benefits of juggling, not only for the patients, but for myself as well. Physically, it improves eye-hand coordination. The array of patterns stimulates the mind and the constant movement exercises the entire body. I conceptualized the idea of teaching juggling seminars at medical conventions as a method of stress reduction for medical personnel and patients.

"Juggling is a form of play therapy. It literally teaches you to let go of unimportant things. Dr. Carl Simonton of Ft. Worth, Texas, works with cancer patients. One of the ways he teaches them to relax is to have them juggle marshmallows."

So intrigued was he that in 1984 Dr. Barry Berkowitz took a "leave of option" from the front lines of emergency medicine to pursue, in true California fashion, a new career as Dr. Juggles. At the same time, to insure himself a secure income while developing his seminars, he invested as a partner in a gourmet coffee roastery and cafe called Uncommon Grounds.

The roastery is located in the changing industrial area that is the heart of Berkeley's "New Bohemia." It soon became a gathering place for an eclectic hodge-podge of scientists from the research labs, artists from numerous co-ops, writers, musicians and actors. In one room an old piano graced a wall adjacent to a makeshift stage area. Anyone was welcome to perform. Berkowitz did. Often.

"I found the high ceilings and amiable crowds terrific for testing out new routines," he said. "One time I added a rubber chicken with a red cape around its neck to my medical juggle. 'Hey, doc!' someone called from the crowd, 'what's with the chicken?' I replied, 'It's a cape-on!' Then I juggled it over my head, 'and this is poultry in motion!' I've kept it in the act. It's always good for a groan!"

Things were going remarkably well. "Stress is the high-priority problem of the '80s. My seminars were being accepted enthusiastically and I was getting inquiries from non-medical corporations interested in teaching it to management and employees. Meanwhile the coffee business was booming also. In July 1986 I was made president of the company and had to immerse myself in the logistics of a growing business. I was enjoying the challenge of juggling two careers."

Then in the early morning hours of Sept. 5, 1986, his 41st birthday, he was rushed to the emergency room of Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. "I had a congenital brain aneurysm and it was about to blow. Talk about emergencies!" he grimaced. "Two former colleagues operated. They tell me I came out of surgery making juggling patterns with my hands. When they asked me where I was, I told them Sumatra. It's one of the countries where we purchase coffee.

"Recovery was tedious and exhausting. I wasn't used to being a patient. One morning my girlfriend grabbed three balls off the kitchen counter and threw them at me. 'It's about time you got back into this,' she said. I juggled, and was back to work three weeks later."

Asked if he had any regrets about giving up his traditional medical practice, Berkowitz smiled contentedly. "As a doctor and a juggler I'm always facing battles against inevitable forces... death and gravity. But now if I make a mistake you can boo me, but you can't sue me," he quipped. "You know, if this is a mid-life crisis, well... it just doesn't hurt!"

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I can juggle / Juggling for success

Dave Finnigan's program. Some informations... but this site used to be different 2,3 years ago :(. It was all: "" website with lot of information and more detailed about juggling benefits, goals, how to do it. Probably the website was changed and there are few proggrames on it. I found the only one old page - it's here
You can try to look for it. I translated the pages into Polish and today found only tsome papers in English on my computer (copied few years ago :). I will put it on the blog soon.

Teachers Link Juggling to Improved Academic Skills

Teachers Link Juggling to Improved Academic Skills

Although they admit to a lack of scientific data supporting their observations, several teachers and administrators recently told Education World that they've seen students' schoolwork improve after the kids learned to juggle. Improvements in concentration, eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, reading, and behavior are just some of the benefits of juggling cited by educators. Included: Tips on using juggling in the classroom.

Mention juggling in schools, and most people probably think of balancing tasks and commitments, not of tossing balls and scarves into the air. Some school districts, however, have found that teaching students to juggle real objects improves not only their coordination but their academic performance and behavior as well. In fact, several teachers recently told Education World, juggling increases students' ability to concentrate, enhances their eye-hand coordination, and builds self-confidence.

"They don't just perform better, they have a desire to perform better," says Debbie Curtis of students who participate in her school's juggling club. Curtis, the principal of Nowlin Elementary School in Blue Springs, Missouri, added, "They seem to try harder in class and have fewer discipline problems."

At Nowlin, students learn to juggle in kindergarten during physical education classes; they practice during classroom juggling breaks. Students in grades three through five are eligible to join the juggling and circus skills clubs.
Greg Goodman, the school's physical education teacher and advisor for the circus skills and juggling clubs, says he started the juggling program seven years ago to appeal to children not interested in team sports. Goodman explains that the kids start by juggling scarves, then move on to such "stuff" as beanbags, balls, small plungers, rubber chickens, and rubber fish. Some students in the circus skills class even learn to ride unicycles while juggling. The students perform at an annual assembly at their school and at other schools as well.
"They don't just perform better, they have a desire to perform better," says Debbie Curtis of students who participate in her school's juggling club. Curtis, the principal of Nowlin Elementary School in Blue Springs, Missouri, added, "They seem to try harder in class and have fewer discipline problems."

At Nowlin, students learn to juggle in kindergarten during physical education classes; they practice during classroom juggling breaks. Students in grades three through five are eligible to join the juggling and circus skills clubs.
Greg Goodman, the school's physical education teacher and advisor for the circus skills and juggling clubs, says he started the juggling program seven years ago to appeal to children not interested in team sports. Goodman explains that the kids start by juggling scarves, then move on to such "stuff" as beanbags, balls, small plungers, rubber chickens, and rubber fish. Some students in the circus skills class even learn to ride unicycles while juggling. The students perform at an annual assembly at their school and at other schools as well.

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Copyright © Education World®

Illinois Juggling Institute

Here is Illinois Juggling Institute. They do some programs for schools etc., but... as I understandf it - these are very fast and very short-term programs (I prefer long-term programs, beeing with childern, adults at least oce a week for at least 6 months or more).
... but check some ideas, links, artlcles (Dave Finnigan :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009



Fitness, Motor Skills, Rhythm, Balance, Coordination Benefits . . .

Students can start acquiring pre-juggling skills in pre-school and kindergarten by learning to toss and catch one big, colorful, slow-moving nylon scarf. Once tossing and catching becomes routine, you can use one nylon scarf anywhere that you would normally use a ball or beanbag for most games and many individual challenges. Just think of the scarf as a "ball with training wheels."

Scarf juggling and scarf play progresses in a step-by-step manner from one, to two, and on to three. Scarf play and scarf juggling requires big, flowing movements. Children get a great cardio-vascular and pulmonary work-out when they juggle scarves, exercising the big muscles close to the head and close to the heart. They will find scarf juggling to be a great deal of work and lots of fun at the same time. Once they move on to beanbags or other faster moving equipment, they get exercise not only from tossing, but from bending over to pick up errant objects as well. Once a student can juggle continuously, they can "workout" with heavy or bulky objects such as heavyweight beanbags, basketballs, or other items which provide strenuous exercise while they improve focus and dexterity.

Because all of this tossing and catching activity can be done to music, you can use different types of music to help children acquire a sense of rhythm and a natural "beat." By working together, students can participate in a group activity requiring concentration and attention to task and reinforcing rhythm.

Students learn balance at the same time that they learn juggling. It is vital to give children opportunities to work equally with their dominant and nondominant hands, and juggling does this automatically. Crossing the mid line and tracking are inherent in all of the activities from the very start. Bilaterality is vital to continuous juggling. Jugglers become ambidextrous to a large extent and will be beneficial to students who participate in other active sports.

As juggling improves, tossing and catching skills and overall eye-hand abilities also improve. Students who learn to juggle find other skills easier to acquire, partially because of improved reflexes and eye-hand coordination, and partially because they have learned how to learn. They acquire their juggling skills step-by-step and this model can help them understand how other skills are acquired.

Behavioral, Social, Attitudinal Benefits . . .

A classroom based juggling program give teachers a great deal of added control over children's behavior. Once the juggling break is instituted, it can become a powerful tool for improving student attention to task and classroom deportment. Kinesthetic and physically active learners will be especially eager for juggling breaks. This group is likely to include those students who present the biggest behavioral problems. These students also may excel in juggling, where they may not excel academically. They need movement breaks and will benefit most from juggling.

Juggling gives students a way to communicate with one another through cooperative work on group tasks, by sharing skills, and by monitoring each others advancement. They gain attention from family and friends when they "show off" their skills and they gain respect and make new friends when they teach those skills to others. As one of the teachers at Hazel Dell School said, “We have a lot of new kids coming into this building. They look at this juggling program, get involved in it, and have friends right away. It is not a gimmick, it's just a marvelous way to improve self-esteem. Because of this program we have a great group of kids we can send off to middle school ..."

Students who understand the step-by-step learning system used in juggling do well in all their other subjects because they are not intimidated. They improve their attitude toward learning new subjects and acquiring new skills. They do not hesitate to accept challenges, just as they accepted the challenge of learning to juggle. This attitude of confidence and acceptance of risk-taking gives students who are involved in a juggling program a decided edge over those who are not.

When students can get up and perform successfully for adults or other students, selfesteem soars. The key to enhanced self-esteem is the realization of one's selfworth, and nothing brings this home to kids better than praise and applause from peers and adults. One facet of the juggling break program is that every student gets to perform constantly for peers and parents. In this program the students are offered the opportunity to organize and present juggling performances which can enhance the stage presence of the students, the cohesiveness of the classroom, and the spirit of the school. Improved self-concept leads to more effort in both motor and intellectualendeavors, creating a self-reinforcing system.

Creativity, Problem Solving Benefits . . .

Students see immediately that juggling is like a video game with innumerable levels, but the juggler is the "Sonic Hedgehog" or the "Mario Brother." He or she takes all of the spills (drops) and gets to start over, again and again. You start with a very enticing and perplexing challenge, to learn to keep three objects moving with only two hands. You solve that challenge step-by-step with many drops along the way. You reaffirm what video games already taught you, that a drop (game over) is a chance to pick up and try again (start over). Jugglers know that "a drop is a sign of progress," and that if you are persistent and keep practicing, you will eventually get to the next level, where you will get to start over again. Practice is the key to success. Jugglers and video game players know what many adults have forgotten . . . anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first until you get good.

Because juggling is not just one pattern, but literally an infinite number of patterns, it is like a video game with an infinite number of levels. Also these same patterns can be presented with a variety of equipment . . . scarves, beanbags, balls, rings, clubs, and just about anything you can throw up in the air and catch. Students continually challenge one another, and through juggling videos, books, juggling get-togethers, and the Internet, your young juggler can continually progress and improve. Also, partner juggling requires team and small group problem solving. If your students decide to present a show to others, they will meet the challenges of integrating juggling skill with stagecraft, music, and presentation.

When you first learn to juggle you need to count, to worry about drops, to verbalize, and to see the specific steps of a larger pattern . . . all "left brain" skills. However, when you have learned to juggle, you no longer need to count, worry, or verbalize to yourself every action. You can get lost in the "flow of the moment," in the rhythmic and timeless "right brain." Once you can juggle and carry on a conversation or speak unique lines at the same time, both sides of the brain are working. Then both sides of the brain are working and the synergy of right and left brains working together can be tapped. Brain research has not yet focused on this area but the synapses must be firing and the corpus callosum must be highly energized when both sides of the body and both sides of the brain are working in concert.

Juggling provides a series of sequential problems that require the student to calm down, pay attention, listen analytically, observe critically, focus on one activity at a time, plan a learning strategy, go step-by-step, stay on task, screen out distractions, and manage their muscles to act appropriately, and with the desired results using successive approximations. They will persevere through a series of minor failures (drops), analyze final results of the process, and incorporate the newly learned activities into a larger pattern of complex learned activities that can be demonstrated and taught to others. It is a limitless, cumulative, branching model which teaches creative problem solving through direct experience and enhances creativity by offering intrinsic and extrinsic reinforcement with every gain in skill!

Learning Styles and Stimulation of the Learning Process . . .

Schools are increasingly attuned to the fact that students have numerous and quite different learning styles; yet many teachers find it difficult to work with diverse styles, particularly those most distant from their own. It is interesting that the learning styles that are most difficult for highly verbal and "desk oriented" teachers to work with in the traditional classroom may be the ones that are most easily involved in a juggling program. Spatial learners love to visualize the juggling patterns. They learn well with videos and love to puzzle through juggling patterns using the "mind's eye." Musical learners love the rhythmic nature of juggling. Bodily and kinesthetic learners really appreciate the opportunity to get up and move around in an organized way, to interact with space and process knowledge through bodily sensations. Interpersonal learners love the opportunities for sharing, comparing, relating, and cooperating that juggling and eventual performing affords. Even intra personal learners can get involved in juggling through working alone, focusing on their own goals, and pursuing their own original interests at their own pace and in their own space.

It is certainly noteworthy that logical and mathematical learners have long been associated with juggling. Scientists and researchers who work with computers and particularly mathematicians have had a reputation of dominating the ranks of jugglers. A juggling festival is usually loaded with participants with advanced scientific degrees. Bell Labs, Microsoft, MIT, Stanford, and Apple Corporation all have long standing juggling clubs. Even the Internet has show a massive interest in juggling. Already, over 55,000 people have accessed the JUGGLING INFORMATION SERVICE on the Internet. This is undoubtedly due to the experimental nature of the art, where practitioners must figure out patterns and relationships, work with numerical concepts, ask questions, explore, and logically solve complex problems. Even linguistic learners can be involved in juggling if they meet it early enough, before they become too sedentary. There is plenty of grist for verbal mills in presenting or chronicling the art. Juggling to poetry and telling a story with juggling may be the methods by which these "word players" can become involved.

When you turn thirty students loose in a classroom setting with ninety objects (or more) to throw around, it might seem to be risky, however the contrary is true. Juggling movements are all contained and very focused. Students need some self-discipline to properly participate and soon they learn that the process improves this ability to control themselves. Focused behavior is automatically reinforced by success. The step-by-step paradigm used in learning to juggle can be used by the teacher as a model for learning any skill or body of discipline that requires this same strategy.

Academic Benefits . . .

Research has shown that there is a direct relationship between the hand-eye coordination learned through juggling and the ability to read, write, and reason. Academic connections are strongly indicated between juggling on the one hand and reading, math, handwriting, and other subject areas on the other. The most persuasive evidence for an academic connection so far comes from the work of Dr. Carole E. Smith, Physical Education Specialist, Lackland City Elementary School, 101 Dumont, San Antonio TX 78251 (210/674-0261). Dr. Smith's work shows that learning to juggle can improve both handwriting and reading skills. Her research merely reinforces the work of Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget, both of whom hypothesized that gross motor movements and tactile sensation increased cognitive learning. If every student learns to juggle in primary grades and they are constantly reinforced to improve their juggling skills, academic performance should improve accordingly.

Research also shows that if students get up and move around energetically on a regular basis, they return to academic tasks refreshed and will learn better as a result. Using juggling as the central theme, a program of classroom fitness and coordination breaks can be set up and run by the students themselves. Because each student works at their own pace, with their own equipment, and in an environment which reinforces effort and accomplishment, the activity is completely safe and non-disruptive.

Juggling is like having a "right brain break in a left brain day." It is low-impact aerobics that rhythmically and energetically exercises the big muscles close to the head and heart, pumping blood to the brain.

A large percentage of kids come to school as "couch potatoes" and the typical classroom setting makes "desk potatoes" out of them. By creating a lifeline between the classroom and the activity center (gym or playground), the teacher can see the student as a whole person, not simply as an academic entity. Skills can be learned that will be practiced eagerly every day at school and every evening and weekend at home. It is a lifelong learning activity. This set of activities does not involve team sports or competitive games, but individual skill development and cooperative learning activities which are developed by students themselves in a self-paced manner. If students can become involved in the teaching and evaluation process, they learn a great deal more than if they are simply taught a skill or subject by a teacher. The juggling program is designed to be initiated by a teacher but administered by students. It is not necessary that the teacher even know how to juggle, although that will happen in almost every case regardless of the teacher's previous experience with physical activity. There are several "how-to" videos that can be played where the students can learn right along with the kids on the video. This peer teaching program can include a goal setting and promotion system whereby students evaluate one another for advancement in a fun and casual way. There is no negative stigma attached to failure in these evaluation activities. Conversely, there is a great deal of positive reinforcement inherent in working together, persevering, and eventually accomplishing the goal.

Discipline and regular practice are natural outcomes of the process, just as they are when a group of friends challenges one another to learn to skateboard, toss a Frisbee, play Hacky-Sack or shoot baskets. Learning to juggle uses a step-by-step self-regulated problem solving format with automatic reinforcement at every level of accomplishment.

There are no losers in this process . . . only winners!

Because you can only learn to juggle step-by-step, juggling is a great model for learning in general. Juggling skills are cumulative and students can see and appreciate their improvement as well as the improvement of others right from the first lesson. It is the sort of activity that reinforces the participant immediately for practice where the "payback" is directly proportional to the amount and quality of practice. In this regard, juggling practice is just like practicing reading, spelling, or math. This cumulative step by step process can be repeatedly pointed out to the students.

Teachers may want to interrelate juggling and academics through projects such as

the following . .

1. Reading or book report projects on the circus, history of juggling, or vaudeville.

2. Keeping a diary of accomplishments and a practice record which details frustrations and accomplishments.

3. Sending your student jugglers to perform at another nearby school and teach them to juggle.

4. Sending your student jugglers to perform at a district or state education conference.

5. Joining the International Jugglers' Association as a class (1-800/367-0160).

6. Taking a field trip to the circus and arrange to go backstage to meet the jugglers.

7. Holding a JUGGLE-A -THON in place of the annual WALK-A-THON.

8. Playing juggling games on your annual field day.

9. Having a class or individual project of producing a "How-To" video tape of learning to do some activity in a step-by-step sequence.

Why not conduct your own research on the relationship between juggling and reading, behavioral patterns, or other academics? See if reading scores do rise along with ability to focus and to stay on task. You should find a drop in disruptive behaviors and you will be surprised to find that your best jugglers are not necessarily your most athletic students.

And you thought juggling was something you only watched at the circus . . . . .