The moment we all love to see in our lessons…

THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT: “A lightbulb moment is when you have a sudden realisation about something”. I’m sure we have all experienced it ourselves and if you are anything like me will get the greatest satisfaction when a pupil has a ‘Eureka’ moment in class!

The funny thing is, we use the image of a lightbulb switching on to explain these moments of ‘sudden realisation’. But….Why?

My eyes have been opened to a whole new world over the past 2 to 3 years…reading the works of the likes of Carol Dweck, Guy Claxton, Malcolm  Gladwell, Matthew Syed and probably my favourite…Daniel Coyle. All of these fantastic people have revolutionised my teaching…

Daniel Coyle has helped me to understand why the image of a lightbulb is so powerful….

“The Little Book of Talent – Tip 21: Think in Images” (Daniel Coyle, 2012)

“Your brain has spent millions of years evolving to register images more vividly and memorably than abstract ideas…Whenever possible, create a vivid image for each chunk you want to learn. The images don’t have to be elaborate, just easy to see and feel.”

So if we picture the image of a lightbulb switching on….we understand the “feeling” of sudden realisation! So how can we apply this to education…and more specifically PE lessons? I am sure that every PE teacher out there…be it a student…NQT….Director of specialism or beyond…we all use vivid imagery without even realising it! It’s what we do…right?

This got me thinking…wouldnt it be great to have a “Vivid Imagery Index”….somehwere to turn to when you need that extra something to help “the penny drop” with students.

One Tweet and a few hours later the examples of Vivid Imagery were rolling in…so here is the beginning of a “Vivid Imagery Index”. Ideally I would love people to leave replies with examples of their own…then I can produce a more comprehensive list for everyone to use…

All Time favourite:

“Leave your fingers in the cookie jar” (when shooting in basketball)

I have been using this one during lessons this week. The great thing was I didn’t have to tell them to do as such….I simply asked them: “In the movies/cartoons, where is the cookie jar that the naughty child attempts to reach?” They all know…”THE TOP SHELF”….ok…”Show me how you would get the cookies out…”

BINGO! From that point on in the lessons…every shot (well the majority) was attempted with fingers in the cookie jar! Pupils were giving feedback to this effect and some pupils even managed to create a song/rap to remind them.

When it comes to vivid imagery, the teacher has to be confident and comfortable using it…so here are some other ideas…that you may wish to use, already use, or may never dream of using…

  • Wave goodbye to the ball (shooting in basketball)
  • Shoot the rainbow (shooting in basketball)
  • Kick your socks off (Foot action during front & back crawl)
  • Close the book (when catching a tennis/cricket ball)
  • Create a ‘W’ with your hands (catching as a Goalkeeper in football…soccer if you are reading this in the USA)
  • Football is “attached to your laces” (when dribbling in football)
  • Shake hands with the racket (initial grip in badminton/tennis)
  • Your thigh/chest are a “pillow” (control in football)
  • Create a ‘basket’ (catching a high ball in rugby)
  • “You are a spring” (Vertical Jumping)
  • When long jumping: “catch a ball in the air” (great for getting the arms up…even introduce a real ball)
  • Eat the apple (grip/start of bowling technique in cricket)
  • Sweep the dishes of the table (tennis forehand)
  • The toilet seat position and check you watch (hockey stance)
  • Make a rainbow (Arm action during swivel hips in trampolining)

So there you have it…the start of the Vivid Image Index…but I’m sure it’s just the “Tip of the Iceberg” Please add as many examples as possible. It can be difference between the lightbulb staying off or switching on!

Thank you to those who got back to me on Twitter with examples… @MrFairbairnPE @HLP_123 @davidfawcett27 @MrWickensPE @caochpvg @TeamTait

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5 thoughts on “The Lightbulb Moment

  1. Great blog!

    How about long passing in football (soccer)..

    Think of the ball as a head

    1) to achieve a lofted pass hit the chin
    2) to achieve a drilled pass hit the nose
    3) to achieve a curled pass hit the ear

  2. In basketball set shot, we also use ‘shooting out of the sun roof’ if they attempt to shoot with hands in incorrect position they would more likely chest pass hitting the driver in the back of the head. To shoot out of the sun roof the power must come from the legs and dominant shooting hand must be under the ball to shoot out of the sun roof! Works for our kids! 😉

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