Appropriate 21st Century Education:
The Top Ten Reasons Why Humor Is
FUNdamental To Education
10. Humor plants memories. Powerful emotions are at the root of long-term memory. Ask your students what their strongest memory of school has been so far. Have them categorize how they felt about this experience by charting these memories as either joyful or anxiety producing. Encourage students to think about why they remember this incident. Discuss how they can use humor (a strong emotion), as a device to help them remember information. When The Memory Goes–Forget It!
9. Humor grows coping skills. Humor has often been used as a survival technique for prisoners of war. Educators need to survive constant change with new mandates and testing requirements coming frequently from policy makers and legislators. There are numerous “survival” issues in education today! Some research indicates that laughter increases adrenaline, oxygen flow, and pulse rate. After laughter, most people report feeling relaxed and calm. No Sense Being Pessimistic, It Wouldn’t Work Anyway!
8. Humor cultivates energy and engagement. The traditional auditory lecture is one of the least effective ways to facilitate learning. Purposeful games, directed play and physical activity all promote humor and learning. The research on the benefits of movement and learning supports the idea that play and laughter increase the oxygen levels and energy that are critical for learning. Energizer Bunny Arrested; Charged With Battery!
7. Humor captures and retains attention. Laughter and surprise can hook even the most reluctant student. “Emotion drives attention and attention drives memory, learning, problem solving, and behavior” (Sylwester, 2003). The brain cannot learn if it is not attending. Humor generates something unexpected, which alerts the attentional center of the brain and increases the likelihood of information recall. It can be integrated into all aspects of the learning process as described in the Educators Tackle Box in Using Humor to Maximize Learning (Morrison, 2008). The purposeful use of humor is a skill that can be practiced and enhanced. A favorite follow-up strategy is to invite the students to read a section of the lesson and create a joke or riddle about that segment. Some of these can be used in the actual test for the chapter. Lost In Thought–It’s Unfamiliar Territory!
6. Humor neutralizes stress. Humor will decrease depression, loneliness and anger. The contagious nature of laughter is caused by mirror neurons—brain cells that become active when an organism is watching an expression or goal-directed behavior that they themselves can perform. If you see someone laughing, even if you don’t know the reason for the laughter, you will probably laugh anyway. The imitative behavior is due to mirror neurons being stimulated. Stress levels have been increasing for both students and teacher. Laughter is contagious. Catch it! Spread it! He Who Laughs–Lasts!
5. Humor is the #1 Characteristic Students Value in a Teacher. They may not remember what you taught, but they will remember your sense of humor and the relationships produced in the classroom. Build a Humor Haven in your classroom filled with joke, riddle and humorous storybooks. Depending on the age of your students, you can add clown noses, squish balls, games and puzzles. Make Their Day—every single day with laughter and fun. It will make your day too! What Would Scooby Do?
4. Humor enhances creativity. The employment market has transitioned from agriculture and manufacturing jobs to positions requiring ingenuity and inventiveness. Humor promotes creativity and critical thinking skills. Often humor comes from unconnected, random thoughts. Grow creativity through laughter yoga, telling funny stories, or playing games. Do Not Disturb, I am Disturbed Enough Already!
3. Humor facilitates communication. Humor is a great way to build relationships with students, colleagues, and parents. Understanding your humor style will assist your humor practice. Humor is a social lubricant. It has the power to generate a culture of trust in your organization. If you understand and nurture a constructive humor style, it will positively impact your ability to communicate. Humorous interaction between coworkers encourages a healthy, productive work environment. A Closed Mouth Gathers No Foot!
2. Humor supports the change process. Educators are faced with change on a daily basis. When you can laugh about new mandates or disruptive behavior issues, you know you are able to cope with these challenges. Plan for how you and your colleagues will use humor to cope with new standards, testing, or stressed kids. A great strategy is to create a top ten list of “What’s So Funny” about the upcoming change. Change is Good–You Go First!And now for the number one reason to laugh frequently and often…
1. Humor Is FREE and FUN. Teaching is a joyful experience. The current focus on accountability and data-driven instruction can bury our sense of humor—driving it underground. Dig around for humor resources to share with your students and colleagues. Do not let anything rob you of your passion for bringing joy to your students. Remember, a sense of humor is free and fun! I Want to Live Forever—So Far So Good!Hold your ground when it comes to your beliefs about how to plant the seeds of learning in your workplace. Weed out the humordoomers and their negative comments. Do not give them the time or energy required to creep into the culture of learning in your environment.
Carter, Rita (2009) The human brain book. NY: DK Publishing.
Martin, R. A. (2007). The psychology of humor: An integrative approach. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Morrison, Mary Kay (2008). Educators tackle box in using humor to maximize learning. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Ratey: John (with Hagerman, E) (2009) Spark: the
revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. NY: Little, Brown
and Company. Western Schools
Sylwester, R. (2003). A biological brain in a cultural classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Wolfe, P. (2001). Brain matters: Translating
research into classroom practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development.