We know the humor is an extremely powerful force, sometimes even life saving (Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins).
Children are natural learners. Children learn very fast and a lot before they turn five. They put together ideas, experiences and things creatively and freely. We also see that they laugh a lot. I read somewhere that a 5-year-old laughs over 400 times a day! But as we grow older, we become more constrained and goal oriented when we learn. And we laugh much less.
We tend to agree with Elliott Massie when he says that every great classroom-based class that he had attended contained humor and laughter. Off hand, we agree that positive humor will help establish a climate conducive to learning, reduce stress, aids retention of information, breaks down barriers between facilitators and learners, and foster cohesiveness.
But the question is how?
I know humor is like creativity. It is intuitive. It is very difficult to structure and tame it with a process. Some people are humorous, some are not. (I find Indians notorious for their lack of humor; I think we take ourselves too seriously L) Can we learn to be humorous and entertaining? Are there any tried and tested means and methods?
And how much?
Now coming to how much of entertaining or humor is good? When we see advertisements that make us laugh a lot and those we find very entertaining, we often remember the advertisement not the product they endorse. Similarly, I think too much of entertaining in training will actually impede learning. Participants will have a good time. Your reaction level feedback will be great but learners’ level may not be that great! Again are there any norms? Should we use humor only during ice-breaking or towards the end of the session?
What about humor in eLearning?
I think eLearning poses the greatest challenge. The only piece of humor I ever encountered in an eLearning course was the humorous feedback in an assessment. Any ideas and experiences?
Thank you for reading my blog and I welcome your comments and sharing of experiences.