Here’s a snippet from an application, to the European Union (EU), for a comedy troupe. The EU was looking for help extolling the virtues of Union membership to the citizens of a candidate country.
It was my idea to put the comedy troupe forward for the job , and I had to sell the idea to the EU. The selection committee called my application, “a work of art.”
The Powers of Comedy.
In our concept note we stated that there is nothing new about using humour to educate people
There is, of course, nothing new about the proposed approach. A scholarly paper, published in The Journal of Statistics Education, reveals:
“The technique of using humor to enliven lectures is as ancient as the Babylonian Talmud. Rabbah, a Talmudic sage who lived 1700 years ago, would say something humorous before starting to lecture to the scholars, and they would laugh; after that, he would begin his lecture.”
And we further stated that educators understand the value of humour as a teaching tool:
In her 2008 book, Using Humor to Maximize Learning: The Links between Positive Emotions and Education, the author, Mary Kay Morrison, reports:
“Educators value humor. References to the importance of having a sense of humor are liberally sprinkled throughout the school-based literature. It is usually mentioned as a factor to look for when hiring, as well as one of the qualities of effective teachers. High school students will tell you humor is the trait they value most in a teacher. It is without a doubt the one quality that most of us agree is needed in education.”
But there is much more to be said about the powers of humour.
Humour makes information easier to remember
A website – www.changingminds.org – which bills itself as, “the largest site in the world on all aspects of how we change what others think, believe, feel and do,” says this about humour:
Research by Clouse and Spurgeon has also shown that a good joke or playful laughter can boost creativity, initiate conversation and generally build a more trusting atmosphere.
Other research by Bettinghaus and Cody (1994) and Foot (1997) showed that humor:
- Builds rapport and liking of the humorist
- Makes the target person want to listen more
- Relaxes the person, making them more receptive to the message
- Distracts the person from thinking about counter-arguments
- Makes the information more memorable
That last point – Makes the information more memorable – is an important one, because we do want Montenegrins to retain what our TV shows will teach them, so let us elaborate.
Valparaiso University psychology professor Dr. Kieth Carlson. decided to test that theory. A press release on the university’s website about Carlson’s conclusions states, in part:
To test whether humor itself – and not another variable such as the brain working harder to resolve an incongruity – makes a difference in memory, Dr. Carlson found inspiration in a series of posters that parody the motivational posters found in offices around the world. He created pairs of posters that had the same image and keyword, but with different phrases – one inspirational and the other humorous. After viewing the posters, the test subjects were asked to recall the image and keyword.
In all cases, the humorous posters were more easily recalled than the inspirational posters and, more importantly, Dr. Carlson says that after controlling for photographic image, keyword, order of presentation, length of phrases and the mental incongruity created by the inspirational and humorous phrases, subjects’ ratings of humor explained an additional 50 percent of the variance in recall performance.
That indicates the perception of humor can impact what we remember even after all of these other variables are controlled.
There is a caveat to Carlson’s findings and we will get to that at a later point when we discuss how we will execute this proposed action.