WHY WE USE HUMOR?
“I’ve learned that if you’re really wanting to get a message across, it has to go down with a sweetening dollop of comedy and humor. You’ve got to keep reminding yourself that your point has to be a pill in the dog’s food.” – Bill Maher, a very, very successful comedian
Perhaps we would have tried to put it more elegantly (dog’s food?), but we couldn’t be more in agreement with Mr. Maher.
Teaching is serious. Learning is serious. We acknowledge that. But nowhere is it written that learning has to be boring. We’re going out on a long, long limb here, but someone’s got to do it. Here at the James Stanfield Company, we think learning can be fun. (Gasp!) Now we’ll go even further out: we think it can be funny (You can’t mean it!). And even further: “Deep” learning occurs when students are fully engaged, and humor, more than any other mechanism, invites full engagement.
In other words, we believe you learn best when you laugh.
Humor in the Classroom
Teachers and entertainers have in common the need to arouse and maintain the attention of their respective audiences. They are both communicators and we consider humor as an important part of effective communication with K-12 students.
Research on humor has consistently found a strong positive relationship between teacher use of humor and student attention and interest. And with interest comes motivation and the increased likelihood of learning and retaining information. Simply put, by making the classroom experience more comfortable and enjoyable, humor can make teaching and learning more effective.
The benefits of incorporating humor with instruction are many and should be considered whenever designing instruction
What do the Experts Have to Say About Teaching With Humor
Not only does humor generate divergent thinking, it can also spark student recall long after the group session is over.
Learning can become more enjoyable and less stressful in a laughter-filled group. The establishment of a group environment that encourages humor seems to assist in learning the material by lifting social and academic barriers.
Humor helps to cultivate personal exploration, discovery, play, and risk-taking because the shared group sense of humor allows for human error.
Laughter following an inevitable error is less traumatic and threatening than a punitive or judgmental response. The willingness of students to be spontaneous and imperfect will result in dynamic learning environment.
A healthy group is a humorous group.
Debra Korobkin, Kellogg Fellow
If you as a speaker don’t help your audience to remember your lessons, then you’re wasting everyone’s time. Humor… can help accomplish that needed retention…
Comedy is largely graphic. A funny image appears in the mind of the listener (learner). We may paint this picture with words, but the real joke is in the image that each person sees…
Most memory systems convert abstract ideas to familiar images because they are impressed upon the mind more easily an are retained longer.
Since images are more easily remembered than are abstract ideas, and since humor is largely visual, it stands to reason that using comedy in an illustration will help people remember the idea’s you are conveying longer and better… Imagery is expressive, graphic and unforgettable.
Gean Perret, Screenwriter
Why does Humor Work In Teaching?
The benefits of incorporating humor with instruction are many, especially with K-12 students. Research on humor has consistently found a strong positive relationship between teacher use of humor and student attention and interest. And with interest comes motivation and the increased likelihood of learning and retaining information.
Simply put, by making the classroom experience more comfortable and enjoyable, humor can make teaching and learning more effective.