The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Teachers sound off on humor in the classroom

A lecture on the German Schlieffen Plan during World War I or a calculus lesson on Rolle’s Theorem may not seem like potentially funny topics by any means, but many teachers at this school have discovered a way to make lesson plans entertaining and not sound like the “whaa- whaa-whaa” drone of Charlie Brown’s teacher.

“Humor gets students to relax and provides a little light in a dull class like Calculus BC,” math teacher Steve Cochran said.

While Cochran acknowledges that humor does make the class get a little off focus, he says math jokes help keep the humor focused. (For instance: Why do transvestites like calculus? because they get to change integrals.)

English teacher Galen Rosenberg employs humor in the classroom to generate student interest. The humorous exchanges between teachers and students allow students to relax. They also create an environment where students feel free to share and bounce ideas off each other and the teacher.

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“I think when I’m funny, it encourages students to be funny,” Rosenberg said. “I certainly like laughing, and humor creates a more comfortable environment where students are more likely to be engaged.”

Social studies teacher Gabriel Stewart also believes that humor can fuel education and cites humor as a way to allow students to absorb more material.

“[Humor] enables the teacher to connect the material on a different level for a student depending on their sense of humor,” Stewart said. “It’s always good to use a variety of humor in class where appropriate, not only in the situation of what you’re teaching but also in the setting in the place of education.”

Many students wonder if teachers come up with jokes beforehand or recycle jokes through the years, but Cochran, Rosenberg and Stewart all maintain that their humor is “in the moment,” and that they do not use any pre-planned material.

“It just occurs to me in the context,” Rosenberg said. “I could never be a stand-up comedian because I just can’t ever get the moment of humor again.”

In addition, Rosenberg and Stewart insist that despite their humor being on the spot, their jokes never fall flat.

“It is all about anticipating and knowing your audience,” Stewart said. Cochran, however, disagrees.

“If you improv, there is always the possibility that jokes will fall flat because you cannot always hit it,” Cochran said. “The only way jokes never fall flat is if you script them.”

No matter if someone is a student or teacher, humor can definitely improve his or her interest and learning ability in a class.

Humor is a difficult skill to master, but fortunately some teachers at the school can pull it off well.

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