Investigating Our Practices (IOP)

Humor is human, teaching is human. Humor is teaching? McQueen, Danielle


[Conference Program Abstract] English poet Wendy Cope sums up my feelings on searching for the definition of humour, ―If anyone needs me to define ―funny‖ or ―humorous‖, they have my sympathy‖. Is humour a tangible one line definition or is it a frame of mind or perspective that we take into situations? There is no single theory on humour or even an agreed upon definition, which makes for a great (and frustrating) inquiry as there is no single answer. Harvey Mindness provides an analysis of what he calls ―the humorous frame of mind.‖ Six characteristics are essential to this outlook or attitude and help to define humour beyond thinking something is funny and 20 consequently laughing. The characteristics are: flexibility, spontaneity, unconventionality, shrewdness, playfulness and humility. These characteristics are not only essential when defining humour but I argue they are essential qualities for teachers and students alike to possess. But why are these qualities important? As philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer John Dewey believed, education is not preparation for life but rather, life itself. Teachers and students must laugh, cry, and feel anger, joy, elation and disappointment because they are human. The expressions of these feelings belong just as much inside the classroom as they do outside. Developing a humorous outlook depends on teachers valuing humour as a way to make teaching and learning more fully human.

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