Lesson 9: Employing Humor in the Classroom

Did you hear about the two students in an American history class who took off one weekend to go to the beach, had a great time, stayed too long, and missed an important mid-term exam the following Monday? They came to school on Tuesday and told the professor that, on the way back from their trip Sunday night, they had a flat tire and didn’t have a spare. So they had to wait until Monday to get it fixed. The teacher placed them in separate rooms and handed them an exam. The first question was, “For five points, who was the first American president?” They thought, “Cool. This is going to be easy.” Then they turned the page. The second question read, “For 95 points, which tire?”

That joke was a favorite of a high school history teacher who used it every year as a means of creating a sense of rapport with his incoming students. He always concluded the joke by saying, “The number one rule in my class is that you show up.” That teacher understood, like other great communicators, how humor can be employed as a valuable instructional tool to increase a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom.

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