Here’s the deal.
Teachers who use humour frequently in their lessons are more effective teachers.
This is hardly surprising because humour is associated with a host of positive physiological and psychological effects.
Research by Kher, Molstad and Donahue (1999) found that students in classrooms of teachers who used humour retained more information compared to those in classes where teachers didn’t use humour all that often.
Using jokes are a great way to explain concepts and doing so can enhance listening skills and creativity.
If students recall knowledge and understanding of something from memory because it is linked to a joke or a funny situation or story then students are going to have more fun and learn more.
Their stress levels will also be lower.
But is humour appreciated as a teaching tool? Do some colleagues regard it as being flippant and distracting? Some might say that it has no place in the classroom.
But I’m not one of them.
Humour is essential to every class. Why does the dynamic between teacher and students have to be a serious one?
Humour has a substantial place in our craft and especially when delivered by teachers who are authentic, passionate and fun.
According to Torok et al (2004),
Humour appropriately used has the potential to humanise, illustrate, defuse, encourage, reduce anxiety, and keep people thinking.
When students are having fun, they start to relax and feel safe. They also feel supported and their learning and retention can skyrocket.
Laughing and learning go hand in hand.
Humour can be particularly effective in for things students dread learning. They might lack confidence or experience difficulty getting to grips with a subject matter because of a previous negative experience.
But humour can help lessen this anxiety and reduce the dread and threat by improving student receptiveness.
Research also suggests humour is helpful in teaching sensitive content areas such as Sexuality Education (Adams, 1974) and high anxiety courses such as Statistics (Berk & Popham, 1995).
Jokes, riddles, puns, funny stories and funny comments can all help students to learn so make your classroom a place to have fun while learning.
But using humour in the classroom is a skill and depends on numerous factors.
Skilled practitioners are clued into their surrounding, their community and their students so they know what buttons to press and which buttons to leave well alone.
The use of stand-up comedy techniques to enhance presentation skills should be explored further.