Flavour your pedagogy with humour

A smiling teacher with glasses in front of a blackboard holding a ruler and a compass and gesturing thumbs up. Illustration with space for text. EPS 10, grouped and labeled in layers.Image for Education Suppliment

We all remember those teachers who made our learning experiences enjoyable with a pinch of humour in their lectures during our school and college days. But, we as teachers seldom keep humour as a deliberate strategy in our pedagogy. 

Most of us consider humour as a potential threat to the ‘seriousness’ of academic discussions in the class. Unfortunately, some even believe that presenting ourselves as serious persons, in terms of our demeanours, is an essential requirement to be heard and respected by the students.

Notwithstanding, many successful philosophers, politicians and writers are known for their wit. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is quoted as saying “A serious and good philosophical work could be written that would consist entirely of jokes.” Democritus, a pre-Socratic philosopher, was known for his humour and was nicknamed ‘laughing philosopher’.

Today’s educational system owes a great deal to this discounting attitude of teachers towards humour. In the present system, teachers are expected to be calculative and risk-averse in the classroom. Humour is viewed by them as risky of easy ridicule by the students if slipped out of track. Truer it is when a timid teacher wants to survive solely at the wealth of his or her ‘serious demeanours’ and thereby avoids direct intellectual engagements with the students. 

How it helps?

Humour is a creative skill. The human capacity to invoke and enjoy humour has evolved over time. In order to enjoy humour, the students have to spread wide their imaginative realms. Thus, it fosters their creative thinking. Research also documents that one’s aptitude to understand and apply new concepts increases with his or her ability to use and make sense of humour.

Humour helps teachers build rapport with the students. It promotes a good atmosphere in the classroom for knowledge transaction. On one hand, humour aids the teachers to explain difficult concepts with ease, while on the other hand, it facilitates students to understand those concepts within their learning-comfort. When unpalatable facts or difficult concepts are flavoured with humour, they find their way much easier into the brains. Thus, humour serves as a brilliant ‘lubricant’ in the process of knowledge transaction. 

The maturity to deal with social diversity, people and occasions is an essential social skill to be mastered by today’s students. This maturity has to come from the wisdom to accept and digest incongruities, follies and infirmities of human nature. Humour aids students to master this art by lightening their heart and mind. It helps them accept people and their limitations with a smile.

A teacher who uses humour as a tool in teaching would also, by default, train her students to use it in their daily life. Thus, she helps them see tough happenings of everyday life through the prism of humour and avoid ego-frictions. 

Humour helps the teacher dodge her students from experiencing monotony and boredom of lecturing method. Humour injects the flavours of variety and amusement into the learning experiences of students.  

Moreover, if a teacher is identified by the students as the one capable of invoking humour, they then keenly listen to each and every word of her lecture in order not to miss the humour layered in them. Thus, the humour of the teacher increases the attention of students in the class.  

We as teachers use many strategies to help students. For this, first of all, we must get their attention. Humour is definitely a good tool in this regard. A teacher having the advantage of humour can creatively adapt to the varying classroom situations. For instance, she can identify herself with the mood of the class, and thereby, bring them back to the ‘listening mode’.

Having the ability to invoke and enjoy humour is a virtue. It is necessary for the teachers to cultivate this creative skill to make the learning experience of the student more close to his or her imaginations. Humour helps the students and teachers alike to overcome their mental blocks. It provides them with the rhythm to see even the ‘eccentric’ with passion and curiosity. It is an essential skill that must be mastered by teachers.

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Flavour your pedagogy with humour

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