I have been seeing a trend in my career as an educator. Something I noticed last year and it continues to this year. Education takes itself too seriously. When it does laugh, it is strained and forced. Even as a student, education did not have a sense of humor. I find this fascinating as the teachers who made the longest and most lasting impact on me were the funny teachers.
I had a conversation with another administrator at another school. She was adamant that all the instruction was intentional and improvisation was not encouraged or allowed. I was taken aback. Since when are the teachers now allowed to try new or different ways to get the concepts to the children. It's like the teachers are reading from a script and cannot deviate. Where is the creativity in that? Is that effective?
I was the trainer many times in the army. The army was serious about the guidelines but understood the practicality of how people learn. It was understood and encouraged to use any means necessary to train soldiers on a given topic. You were given the manual and the training instructions but the effective trainer watched his or her students and adjusted the presentation so that the concept was received by the trainer. Not everyone learns the same and I learned from practical experience that humor created the longest lasting impressions. I was very successful using humor in the training room. Many soldiers have different learning backgrounds and difficulties and humor seemed to be a good technique to reach many of them. Most of our topics were serious, life threatening type training, and humor was a good way to lessen the stress.
Having dealt with training at such a serious level, I have a hard time understanding the serious lack of humor many staff and administration have in the education field. It's like they were either born unfunny or the funny just died within them.
The administrator I had the talk with seemed to be a process person. The army taught me to be a results person. The platoon leader comes up with the plan but the battlefield is a dynamic place and sometimes the plan has to evolve or be replaced. Improvisation is a valued skill on the battlefield. I worked for a large electronics company based out of Germany. I was a troubleshooter, meaning I went around the country fixing various problems. My first boss hired me because I understand the creativity inherit in the troubleshooting field. Rarely does the same problem in complex systems repeat themselves. And this company had extremely complex systems. I was fairly successful in figuring out what was wrong using a variety of troubleshooting skills, creativity and improvisation. The goal was to fix the system and get the customer back and running again. I would document the fix and go to the next challenge.
My first boss was promoted and the second boss I had was hired from a manufacturing firm. His focus was process. He wanted the process to be documented so that each time something happened that process was used to fix a problem. The issue was that during troubleshooting, the first time you try something it may not work. In fact, it may take several attempts. This was lost on this boss because he had spent his entire career designing manufacturing systems and not fixing them. While process oriented thinking is valuable in that industry, goal oriented thinking is more successful in troubleshooting.
The reason I teach is because I enjoy it. I enjoy the interactions, the humor, and the creativity I am allowed.
Does the method of teaching need to be narrowed or locked into one type? What good does it do a student who learns visually to listen to an audio tape only?
Does humor need to be avoided in the classroom? Laughing students are not learning?
Is creativity and improvisation in the classroom a poor trait for an educator?
Should educators take themselves so serious that they lose humility and the ability to laugh at themselves for being human?
Should the process of education be more important than the goal?