Humor clearly qualifies as a simple treasure. It might not always feel simple for the humorist, but it is natural and free, making it ‘simple;’ and it sure feels like a gift to the recipients, making it a treasure. The ensuing laugh warms everyone’s hearts! Humor is almost always a welcome and simple delight for everyone involved in the funny moment.
Humor can catch us off guard in the oddest of moments. It can be used to disarm angry individuals or steer a negative situation to a better outcome. It can be used to lighten a mood or change an outlook. It can be used to de-stress a tense situation. It can help us view ourselves differently, or take ourselves more lightly. In profound moments, a dose of humor can even increase our capacity to remember important details and hence learn more readily.
People try to tell jokes to make others laugh, but some of the BEST humor comes right out of the fabric of our lives. Parenting, working, managing health issues, and most certainly, teaching – all of these serious topics require a considerable amount of humor! Of course, I have many incidents from my own marriage and parenting experiences that would crack anyone up. And I don’t even have to make it up! In one of my treasured child-rearing stories, a child of mine (unnamed here because humor can also cause death by embarrassment) had just been potty trained and REFUSED to soil the swimsuit in the middle of the lake; unfortunately, the nearest bathroom was a long pontoon ride away. It took much cajoling to relieve the bladder, and much patience to bring calm to the nearly hour long-trauma. Imagine my surprise when the following week that same child stood up in my girlfriend’s pristine backyard ceramic-tiled pool and shouted loud enough for all of the neighbors within a mile radius to hear, “Mommy! I did it! I peed in the pool for you!” Egads. I stifled my laugh while my girlfriend vacated the pool.
Is humor a simple treasure? Experts have already demonstrated that laughter boosts the immune system, increasing natural disease-fighting cells and lowering blood pressure. Humor spawns laughter, commonly known as “the best medicine” and “the shortest distance between two people.” Humor shortens timeframes and makes the unbearable more bearable. Humor invites, involves, and engages everyone nearby. Used well, it is a powerful teaching tool.
As the demands on teachers increase and the expectations for learners become more challenging, it will be important for all of us to seek and employ clean, safe, belly-rolling, milk-snorting humor. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our learners.