Humour in Education

The issue of humor in education is as old as Adam, nevertheless it is permanently re-examined and updated.
Beyond the principles of a modern and student-centred school, for several educators (and even for some parents), the classical image of school is one that embodies absolute seriousness (while the image of the learning effort doesn’t seem to have much in common with a class that laughs or with students that always keep a smile on their faces).
Many a time, humour in a school activity is confounded with superficiality (I even heard at some point how a parent, being revolted against the laughing sounds that came from his child’s class, pointed out: ʽIs this school or amusement?ʼ)

Then again, Roger Dawson (2006) regards humour as one of the instruments of persuasion. Equally, we believe that humour and the seriousness of learning not only do they not exclude each other, but also they overlap and complete one another. When children cheer, laugh and are happy, time passes by faster, the effort in learning doesn’t seem so difficult and the wish for staying at school becomes natural (and not required by compulsoriness). This is why today it’s worth taking a brief closer look into the impact of humour in education. 

First of all, humour supports the development of self-esteem. A child feels good when he laughs at a clown, because he feels smarter than him. Usually, a child confronts with a great pressure arisen from the fact that all the adults surrounding him know much more things than him and he is the only one that always knows less. In this context, humour becomes a source in developing the self-esteem. Jokes sprung by a teacher can humanize the relationship between his students and him. Klein (2003) provides two examples that we will take over as such: a primary school teacher enters the classroom, pretends he doesn’t see the students in front of him and says to himself: ʽWhat shall we do? Nobody came at school today!ʼ and a therapeutist, who wants a child not to be afraid to talk to him, asks the child how old he is in a funny way: ʽLet me guess, I think you’re 21!ʼ
For Klein, the humour used by adults during a class is a technique that helps drawing the student’s attention, increasing his interest for a certain subject and motivating him to get involved into a difficult and challenging task or to look for solutions in a creative manner.
For that matter, Sobel and Ornstein (apud Weber, 1998) note the following: ʽwhen confronted with a threatening situation, animals have two alternatives: they can either run or stay and fight. We, the people, have a third alternative: we can laugh.ʼ And it becomes the teacher’s duty not just to create an entertaining atmoshpere in his class, but also to pass down his ability for creating humour. As a matter of fact, for reducing the effects of stress, some authors (Newman, Stone, 1996) consider that a person must not only be capable of aprreciating somebody else’s humour, but also he himself must be capable of producing humour.
Therefore, we must not be afraid of humour. Nevertheless, school must not be all about having fun. What we are strongly stating though is that amusement must not miss from any educational activity, as it is an important ʽingredientʼ which develops and provides a nice ʽflavourʼ to everybody’s motivation: students’, teacher’s and...why not...parents’. 

1 comment:

  1. From a broader perspective:

    "God must have a great sense of humou, or how could he stand it!"
    -- my mother's observation