Understanding Humour: A Teacher’s Handbook

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Strong, Trevor
Humour , Handbook , Education
Humour is found wherever there are people. In schools the way that students and teachers laugh and joke gives an instant impression of any classroom. A lack of laughter is just as telling. But humour is complex. Why do we laugh? Why do we say one thing and mean another? How can two people have completely different reactions to the same joke? For students, humour is vital in establishing group norms and behaviour and is used as a way of talking about subjects they find uncomfortable. For a teacher, humour can be an effective tool to increase student retention of subject matter and a way to create immediacy in the classroom. For school administration, humour is an opportunity and a problem; by encouraging humour an institution can be seen as more accessible but the misuse or misunderstanding of humour can lead to negative consequences—students can feel demeaned by a teacher’s sarcastic comments and humorous teasing often accompanies bullying behaviour. This handbook provides teachers with the information, language, and tools they need to gain a fuller understanding of the opportunities and pitfalls of using humour in the classroom.
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