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Why We Need Laughter in the Classroom

Humour is an effective way of bridging the gap between educator and student, building rapport and enhancing learning.

Why did the student eat his homework?

The teacher said it was a piece of cake.

It’s convenient that International Joke Day (July 1st) falls during the winter term holidays, as it allows us to restock our sense of humour after two terms of teaching, like squirrels storing nuts for the winter.

Read the Term 2 edition of School News HERE

When used appropriately, humour is an efficient way of broaching the psychological distance between teacher and learner, reminding students that educators are in fact, human, and putting everyone at ease.

 What do you say to comfort an English teacher?

There, they’re, their.

Humour can be an effective way to manage conflict by lightening the mood and relieving tension. An appropriate joke can help reframe or distract from a difficult situation. This allows students to change perspective or see an alternative viewpoint, as well as releasing endorphins which helps reduce stress.

 Teacher, will you punish me for something I didn’t do?

No, why would I do that?

Good, because I didn’t do my homework.

Humour can transcend cultural and societal boundaries, and allows students who may consider themselves to have little in common, to see that a shared joke can create a sense of camaraderie and promote inclusivity. Laughing with others creates a positive social environment which in turn will strengthen connections and relationships and make students eager to return to your class.

 What did the teacher at ghost school say?

Now watch the board as I go through it again!

When humour is incorporated into lessons, it helps makes the material being studied more memorable and will aid in learning. Students will be more likely to remember concepts from a fun and engaging class than one that is boring and dry; endorphins can improve cognitive function which helps students form connections and think more creatively.

 Chemistry Teacher: does anyone know a joke about Sodium?

Students: Na

A well-timed joke can allow teachers to hit the reset button for students who might have lost focus and energy, a sugar-free hit that can be highly effective as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Jokes can have the effect of capturing wandering attention and helping students to re-engage in the lesson.

 The past, present and future walked into a bar where a group of teachers were drinking…

Everyone tensed.

By showing students you have a sense of humour, you also show them you are approachable and relatable. Students who feel comfortable in your presence are more likely to open up and engage in class activities, as well as see you and your classroom as a safe space should they be experiencing difficulties.

Physics Teacher: does anyone know a joke about atoms?

Students: you can’t trust them, they make up everything.

It’s important that humour in the classroom be appropriate and never make reference to gender, racial or ethnic differences, or ridicule or single out individuals. What is considered appropriate also changes over time, and what is funny on a Netflix show could be borderline offensive in the classroom.

Why do teachers fart during class?

Because they’re not private tooters.

Teachers who can make a joke at their own expense will be well rewarded. Self-deprecating humour is highly appreciated by students because it shows the adult does not see themselves as superior but can admit to their own limitations, mistakes or foibles. It also encourages students to shift their perspective on their own shortcomings.

Happy International Joke Day

Shannon Meyerkort

Shannon Meyerkort is a freelance writer and the author of "Brilliant Minds: 30 Dyslexic Heroes Who Changed our World", now available in all good bookstores.

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