Last summer I had the pleasure of teaching magic alongside Brad at a summer camp in the Pocono Mountains. When Brad talks about students coming away from a class with a respect for magic -- he means it.
His classes give those students who have an authentic desire to continue in magic the toolbox they need to develop and avoid the pitfalls that a lot of us have fallen into. More importantly, however, those students who leave his class without any interest in further working on magic leave it with a real respect for magic as a performing art and, I think, are likely to patronize quality magical performers as adults (the camp draws from a very prosperous demographic). These kids, in my experience, are not going to use their knowledge to embarrass a performer, the only real threat they pose to magicians (myself unfortunately included at times) is that they can tell the difference between a thoughtful and interesting performance and schlock.
Brad's success is a direct result of his talent and hard work. In my experience many magicians (myself included at the time I first began teaching magic) use teaching as a way to generate additional income from their knowledge without giving much thought to the consequences of the class...without any real vision of the aims the class should serve. This is hardly a surprise as so few of us give much thought to the intended aims of our performances, so few have any coherent artistic vision (myself again included; but only because its a long and ongoing process and has yet to really yield fruit).
Bottom line: if you're going to teach kids about magic think about your intentions and ways to translate these intentions into reality. I would strongly reccomend that you get in touch with Brad and seek his advice -- he knows wherof he speaks.
As to the original issue of teaching Prof's Nightmare:
I was the victim of the worst-case scenario. I performed a George Sands-esque rope routine at camp -- The professor's nightmare was one phase. The camp had a carnival and they were giving slum magic items away as prizes on midway ..sure enough some kids who had seen me do the ropes got three strings and some decades old mimeographed instructions to the nightmare. It was not an enjoyable situation for me; but it was also not a disaster. My other material was sufficiently strong that I still had their respect, but i did learn a lesson:
If I really want to distinguish my work I should only choose material that is extremely strong and unlikely to be in the public domain. Or, if it is in the public domain, then I should put thought into how to use the effect in a more subtle and devious way -- when folks like Ed Marlo and Micheal Skinner used public domain material they did exactly this. Is it the fault of the company hawking the cheap prof's nightmare set that some of my material was in the public domain?
We fear the teaching of routines like the Nightmare to children -- more so than we would fear it being taught to adults -- in part because our status as serious performers would be gravely threatened if we are perceived as performing material that is taught as a passing amusement to kids. There can be tremendous hurt to grown egos by the smug superiority of a child -- and if a child thinks we're doing what they've learned, it brings us to their level. We are no longer the possessors of mysterious knowledge dreamed about, but we're doing the same dumb tricks that they are -- and we seem all the more pathetic (and hilarious) because we take them seriously. I wonder if this is, perhaps, not deserved...
Brad makes the point about proprietary material that (quoting a private online conversation):
"if you are performing at a live venue, that is the sort of venue that would have a magician. clearly. Now, the type of people that would go that that kind of venue are the type of people who go to those kinds of venues, so its not unreasonable to suspect they have seen a magician before
even if they only see TWO magicians in their whole life. How sad is it that they leave witht he impression that all magicians do the same silly tricks, which is not an unlikely thing to occur"
Imagine Brad's scenario, but instead of seeing two magicians doing the same material -- our spectator sees a magician and a CHILD doing the same material. Now, not only do all magi do the same "silly tricks," but they're the same "silly tricks" that even children do!
David Groves (whose book on street performing I greatly enjoyed) is right: kids doing the prof's nightmare injure serious performers who do the same material -- but it isn't the fault of the guy who taught the kids!
As a sidenote, I hope that no one gets the impression from Brad's posts that he is teaching worker material -- he discouraged me from teaching the hoary Criss-Cross force in my classes because it can be used in extremely interesting and subtle ways.