A contagion well worth catching
It’s official – laughing is good for you, and as far as Dave Keeling is concerned, the more we use humour in class, the better our teaching will be.
What I like
I like a guffaw or a titter, and I’m quite fond of an occasional cackle. In fact, I love laughing probably more than most. I dedicated my life to the pursuit of giggling like a schoolboy at anything and everything. If too much time has passed in a meeting or during a dinner my brain will be working a hundred miles an hour to look for the possibility of the next snort, giggle or chuckle, call it what you will.
Why do I like laughing so much?
Coz it’s good for me, and it’s good for you too; dear reader.
Especially in these unprecedented times when we are self-isolating, adapting to a new working landscape and utilising anything with a flat surface as toilet roll!
And whilst sharing a quick quip, a knowing glance or sparkly eyed smile can really help a lockdown day pass positively, there is indeed a greater more powerful force at work when it comes to the benefits that laughter and humour can bring to our health, wealth and well-being.
Whenever we laugh our brain releases naturally occurring neurochemicals called endorphins that make us feel happier, boosts our immune system, relaxes the whole body, decreases stress hormones, protects heart and according to some, makes you more attractive, (every little helps).
“Even if there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit” – Anonymous
Our ability then to change our moods as a result of a change in our actions is because we are ‘psychophysical beings”. In other words, our minds affect our bodies and our bodies affect our minds. So, the fastest way to change your mind is to change the way you behave and vice versa.
Impact on others
Furthermore, our ability to shift our state and impact the mood (positively) of not just ourselves but those around us gives us a much greater degree of control when it comes to our everyday interactions and engagement with others. Don’t forget that 98% of what we do is based on how we feel.
What has this got to do with good mental health? How we feel about ourselves plays a huge role in the everyday decisions we make. We’ve all had a day when we’re not at our best, and instead of your usual exercise regime you go home and eat a packet of biscuits. Or you’ve had a bad day at work, and as you walk up your drive, you see your loved one inside, and they are in a good mood, and you think to yourself,
“I am wrecking that”.
You and only you are choosing to do that.
Choices we make
As the saying goes “Your talent is in the choices you make.”
It doesn’t matter how clever or talented anyone is, if the choices you are making on a daily basis aren’t the right ones for you, the people around you and the environment you find yourself in, then the world doesn’t get to find out how brilliant you are . . . . and you are brilliant!! So, we have to deal with that, and then, more importantly, do something about it.
The power of humour in class
And so how does this mind-set fit into a learning context I hear you say?
Well, if you don’t love what you do then why should anybody else? The key is to continue to encourage and empower our young people to be inquisitive, to seek out and question their learning and couple that with passion, energy and desire, this in turn will make them unstoppable. The power that humour has to enable people to look at past events and see them in a different , more positive light helps create a foundation for more resilient learners, meaning they will remain flexible, adaptable and versatile in an ever-changing world. And humour: yes, having a laugh is your short cut to making this happen (even if it’s online!!).
8 reasons to use humour
If you still don’t believe me then below are 8 extremely good reasons why humour is essential as a communication tool in learning.
1 – Keeps students attention
2 – Emphasises key points so they stand out, allowing for better retention
3 – Can make facts and data easier to digest
4 – Can help regain control more effectively after a disturbance
5 – Can relax an audience, creating a better sense of unity
6 – Keeps relationships exciting, fresh, sparky, fun and healthy
7 – Enriches daily interactions
8 – Can be used as a tool to build resilience. Laughing about setbacks helps us to take them in our stride, distance ourselves from them personally and bounce back from disappointment much quicker.
Happiness v Fear
Fear is the biggest block to happiness, success and meaningful change (and not just in the classroom), and this is why laughter is so important in learning: humour helps to convey a wide range of thoughts, feelings, opinions and subjects that we may find difficult to express in any other way. Happiness therefore (or good mental health) for me personally is about making more positive choices on a more regular basis.
If we look to train ourselves to step back, flip our perspectives and register how certain choices make us feel then we will begin to have the time and power to not only be aware of our thoughts and behaviours but the confidence to change them, leading to a life full of Laughs, value, (did I mention laughs) positive relationships and laughs!!!
Dave Keeling is a stand up educationalist and has worked both nationally and internationally with teachers, pupils and parents for over 20 years. His sole purpose has been to enable those he works with to feel more loveable and capable, one laugh at a time.
Dave is 6ft 2in, blue-eyed and a little bit ginger, and believes that within that description lies something for everyone.
For more about Dave’s work, see http://www.laughology.co.uk/laughology-people/dave-keeling