Laughter! Lots of it! That is what we are lucky to experience in our day to day work. To do that, meeting imaginative professionals, who are up for a challenge, is always a real joy.
We laugh a lot on our training days, (and on the days spent with students of all ages and abilities). Recently, though, despite some challenging times in the world of education, the laughter has been deafening, at times.
Often, when the pressures become intense, we can forget to laugh. We can even begin to fear allowing laughter in our lessons, because we might “lose control” & not be able to fulfil the requirements that pressures put upon us.
Curriculum pressures, parental pressures, authority pressures, professional pressures, pupil behaviour pressures, …real, or imagined, pressures can begin to invade our daily teacher lives.
A panic can set in, in all of us. A panic, that we are “not doing well enough”, on so many levels, and that we, ourselves, “Could do Better”.
Laughter is the last thing on our minds, the last thing we are inclined to encourage, and the last thing likely to happen in our statistics-led, and pressure hosed, day to day school lives.
If we don’t keep up with, and use, the technologies our children use in the outside-school-world (after-school club, youth club, library or home) then our classrooms will appear static, unappealing, dusty yet sterile, redundant environments in comparison.
It is the same with laughter. Sit outside a school, perhaps on a hill, on a day off (when everybody else is working and you feel gloriously liberated), and what do you hear?
In that noisy time, our children have fought tigers, scaled mountains, solved crimes, given birth, cured the world of all known diseases, saved (or taken) the lives of others, saved (or destroyed) an entire planet, scored the winning goal for their country. They have been spies, pirates, sportsmen or women, artists, explorers, fearless warriors, cats, dogs, lions, pilots, and even…teachers!
Do we silence that when they re-enter our rooms?
Or can we harness that sparkling playtime imagination, that excitement, that enjoyment, that exploration?
Role play is “a natural” for children, but, when we use hot-seating in our class, do we make it a stodgy, formal process or does it happen, apparently spontaneously, and bring laughter and learning in to our rooms, at one and the same time?
As we travel, we often use the technique of getting children to spring out of a class group, and “become” a character in one of our virtual reality settings. They often surprise themselves, their peers and, even more often, their teachers. Normally timid, quiet, shy, individuals can startle others by becoming a completely different identity.
We don’t tell them too much information about what they might say, for fear that they might worry about remembering it. Instead, it is a brief time, giving them the confidence to get in to a role, much as they might do in the playground. Imagining they are “really” that soul.
One lad, in a school, when questioned about how he made his (imaginary, yet utterly real to us, by now) robot, answered. “Well, basically, a lot of metal, … and an unbelievable amount of duct tape!” Cue belly laughs.
That same lad, bought us nearly to tears, when he recounted the tragic tale, of how, he thought, he had become the sole survivor in this mystical landscape, and the joy he felt, when he discovered the first hint of a, possible, companion.
Pressures, especially at certain times of the year, mean laughter can fade. We become impatient of ourselves as much as those around us.
Learning is an emotional experience. Memory formation occurs in the emotional areas of the brain. Happy brains retain more.
As one Mr Einstein said:
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
Go and have a giggle. Its good for your health and … for our learning.
Category: 2) Useful n Interesting