Humor as Pedagogy
Aka & Yeralan
atmosphere conducive to learning by helping the teacher “to maintain
a lively and engaged relationship” that whets student participation and
eagerness to learn,7 engender “a trusting” student-teacher relationship
that enables students to take ownership of their own learning,8 promote
critical thinking,9 and “alleviate the strain of learning a dicult sub-
ject,”10 among others. In contrast, a tense and authoritarian environ-
ment hinders learning.11 Small wonder that many students of tertiary
institutions nowadays favor the use of humor in the classroom.12 Going
further, a good number of these students believe that, within judicious
boundaries, instructors should use jokes to enhance learning.13
7. Chabeli, supra note 1, at 51-52.
8. Id. at 51.
9. Id. at 51-52, 55-56 (analyzing critical thinking). Critical thinking refers to
“self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation,
inference as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological,
criteriological or contextual considerations upon which the judgment is
based.” Id . at 55. “[T]he ideal critical thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-
informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, exible, fair-minded in evaluation,
honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to
reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking
relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused on inquiry
and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the
circumstances of inquiry permit.” Id.
10. Oer et al., supra note 1, at 146; see also id. at 140 (stating that humor may
be useful when teaching topics students perceive to be “dicult” or “anxiety-
11. Chabeli, supra note 1, at 51.
12. See Stephen Paul Halula, What Role Does Humor in the Higher
Education Classroom Play in Student-Perceived Instructor Eectiveness,
Ph.D. diss. Marquette University (2013), https://pdfs.semanticscholar.
org/300f/0a9aae5e0580173f7241d3a0d218e01777b8.pdf (abstract). Taking the
position that few of the existing studies “listened to the voice of the student,”
the Halula study sought “to hear what students actually had to say about the
importance of humor in their classrooms.” Id. e work used a qualitative
approach to data gathering involving 9 nonrandomly chosen students, ve of
whom assessed the teaching eectiveness of a history professor in a certain
university in the midwestern region of the United States noted for his sense of
13. Benjelloun, supra note 1 (abstract). For what parameters rank as judicious, see
infra Section V.B.