Category Archives: Admin

Podcasts, meet blogging. Blogging, this is a podcast.

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Photo credit

Podcasts are to radio what blogs are to newspapers. The democratization of modern media has meant that the barriers to becoming a writer or radio host have been drastically lowered. As the members of this blog know, this medium allows participants to reach a wider audience than one classroom or even one institution.

This month, I would like to try an experiment to integrate these two not-so-new-anymore formats. Below you will find a collection of podcasts on science, language, and education. Choose one, or find your own, and write a response to it as your next post. Be sure to include a link to the episode you listened to, and perhaps a related picture to make the post relevant for a wider audience.

Some potential questions you could address in your post:

  • What is the episode about? What was the gist? Can you highlight the main ideas?
  • Are the creators trying to inform, entertain, or persuade you? How do you know?
  • How does the episode incorporate arguments, reasons, and evidence to achieve its purpose(s)?
  • Did you learn anything new? Would you recommend this episode to a friend?
  • How do the ideas presented in the episode correspond with your own thoughts, experiences, or prior knowledge about the topic?

Each show name is followed by episode links and a couple words about the episode.

Freakonomics

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“Host Stephen J. Dubner has surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt.” From the website

Radiolab

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“Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” From the website
  • Truth Warriors The scientific method at work in the world.
  • Words Three stories about a man learning language at 27 years old, the effect of losing language completely after suffering a stroke, and the recent creation of a completely new language.
  • Fate and Fortune A story about choices and consequences, with a special section on the controversial practice of labeling certain children as “gifted” as early at 8 years old.
  • Translation An investigation of the gap between experience and language, and how people try to bridge it.

This American Life

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“We sometimes think of our program as a documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries. A public radio show for people who don’t necessarily care for public radio.” From the website
  • The Problem We All Live With A story about how desegregation could be used to minimize the racial divide in American schools.
  • Harper High School, Part I (Part II here) An in-depth story about one school with 29 recent deaths from gun violence.
  • Is This Working? What are the best ways to deal with misbehaving school kids? An investigation of how punishments may further hurt kids instead of helping them in the long term.

More

A Whole List of Exclusively Education-Related Podcasts from NPR

3 Linguistics Podcasts Every Language Lover Should Listen To

Philosophy Now: Philosophy in Education

 

 

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How to improve critical thinking in HE? Methods from various authors

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Look at the photo. Are the horizontal lines straight or crooked?

Visual illusions, logical tasks, reading a book, writing an argumentative essay, active listening, discussions and debates all contribute for improving critical thinking (CT) skill which has a significant role in successful higher education (HE). CT consists of fundamental learning skills such as remembering and understanding information; analyzing and evaluating materials; knowing how and when to apply the skills; and using it as a basis for further knowledge and creating new things. Currently teaching staff understands the importance of being able to think critically as it allows students to be flexible, quick-witted, rational and creative; as well as to enhance cognitive, language, presentation and self-reflection abilities (What is CT, n.b.). In this case, the role of professors in increasing CT is crucial, and that is why they have some methods and techniques towards developing certain skills.

The first method suggested by King & Kitchener (1994) is going out from the “comfort zone”. When an environment is familiar and a situation is analogous, a person thinks in one way atrophying CT. While building new and unusual conditions, students will think out of a box activating imagination, evaluation, and analyzing abilities. It seems to me an excellent chance to discover some qualities in your personality. For example, imagine, you never consider yourself as a leader. However, one day you will have an unusual situation where you start analyzing, evaluating it, and may be previous knowledge from readings will come up to your mind and you will find out how to apply it in the current situation that will make others follow you. Isn’t it great to have well-developed CT that makes you better?

Meyers (1986) has a similar approach of using paradox performances to deliberate imbalanced facts to change students’ old way of thinking. In another words, creating a risky atmosphere: academia intimidates students when their responses are not correct any more and students should answer to a question quickly and off the beaten track. This way of fostering CT may be a challenge for traditional students; however, making up an extraordinary situation facilitates the brain to find various solutions. Actually, I assume that students must feel that university is a place where they can generate new ideas, analyze, comment on set norms, and suggest logical solutions without any fears.

Moreover, there are some fundamental and significant techniques to foster CT such us listening and writing. The ability to listen to each other is a very important factor as it helps to avoid absolutist thinking; in contrary, analyze and give own constructive answer (Moon, 2005). As I noticed, nowadays not many people are able to listen and hear others. This skill is underestimated; however, the world is giving us answers each day. We just need to learn to listen. What about writing, Moore and Morton (2005) discovered that it is the best way to evaluate CT ability, as it requires comparing advantages and disadvantages, assessing information, finding interrelations, and making a conclusion with concrete arguments. Also, it will delineate ideas and understand deeper what he/she is writing about.

In summary, obviously, there are many methods to improve CT in HE. In my article, I considered some of the techniques such as going out of “comfort zone”, establishing risky situation to facilitate the brain, and pointed out the importance of listening and writing skills. Every teacher can take into account these methods modifying them, and use actively as they have been practicing widely and have had positive results on students.

 

P.S. By the way, the correct answer is the horizontal lines are straight, even though they do not seem straight.  In this illusion, the vertical zigzag patterns disrupt our horizontal perception. (Retrieved from http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2010/10/27/test-your-brain-with-these-top-10-visual-illusions/3/)

 

References:

King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing Reflective Judgment: Understanding and Promoting Intellectual Growth and Critical Thinking in Adolescents and Adults. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series and Jossey-Bass Social and Behavioral Science Series. Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104-1310.

Meyers, C. (1986). Teaching Students to Think Critically. A Guide for Faculty in All Disciplines. Jossey-Bass Higher Education Series. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 433 California Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94104-2091.

Moon, J. (2005). Progression in higher education: a study of learning as represented in level descriptors. Enhancing Teaching in Higher Education: New Approaches for Improving Student Learning, 111-120.

Moore, T., & Morton, J. (2005). Dimensions of difference: a comparison of university writing and IELTS writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes,4(1), 43-66. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1475158504000037

What is Critical Thinking? (n.d.). Critical thinking web. Retrieved from http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/critical/ct.php

 

The secret of being the most successful and richest teacher in the world

Many dedicated teachers have chosen their career because of having a passion for this job. The feeling of being important and useful encourages educators from around the world to work harder and impart as much knowledge as possible. In Kazakhstan majority of school-leavers do not choose teaching profession because of low prestige and salary (Tendenciya, n.d.). However, we have very passionate teachers who try to do their best even though there are no appropriate conditions for that. Unfortunately, in the society their work is only criticized, and teachers lose their motivation. Consequently, we should boost the status of our instructors and show that they can even make a fortune teaching. It depends on a person. Here I am going to talk about the most successful, famous and richest teacher in the modern world.

I guess, everybody heard about Stephen Hawking, a British cosmologist, theoretical physicist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (Stephen, 2016). Second “Einstein” showed outstanding results at Oxford and Cambridge Universities where he continued working as a professor. Stephen has made a significant discovery about gravitational singular theorems with Roger Penrose, and prediction about black holes radiation (Stephen, 2016). In spite of being unable to move, he still supervises PhD students and inspires young physicists around the world. Moreover, Hawking has published numerous science papers, books, children’s fictions, and has received many awards and honors. For instance, his renowned book “A Brief History of Time” was a best-seller on the list of London Sunday Times for more than four years where Stephen explained complex physical concepts acceptable to the public. Due to his books and publications, his worst is about $20 million (Capanna, 2014). Isn’t it impressive?

Stephen is an ordinary person who works hard and with heart, dedicating himself to the specific field and showing impressive results. There are so many followers of Hawking who make films, write books about him, and scrutinize his work. Stephen Hawking is a bright, successful and rich professor who could change the world! Why not to take him as an example? Why do people always blame and rely on the government without making any endeavors? So, DO NOT wait for someone to do something for you. Remember Nike’s moto “JUST DO IT!” Love your job, do it in best way, and you will not need any secrets to be successful and rich.

 

 

References:

stephen-hawking-qote-1Tendenciya padeniya prestizha pedagogicheskoi professii sredi molodezhi. [The trend of falling the prestige of teaching profession among young people]. (n.d.). KGKP “Karasuskii selskohozyaistvennyi college” upravleniya obrazovaniya akimata Kostanaiskoi oblasty. Retrieved from http://pl7.kz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=97:2014-06-06-04-15-57&catid=46:2012-03-02-02-45-01&Itemid=62

Stephen Hawking. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking

Capanna, S. (2014). 5 Richest professors in the world. The richest. Retrieved from

http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/5-richest-professors-in-the-world/

 

Spring 2016: What’s new?

Dear students and readers,

The NU Writers Guild is ready to start another semester. We are welcoming two new cohorts, the MA 1st year group, and the MSc Inclusive Ed and School Leadership groups. With all the changes going on in the Kazakhstani education system, both in policy and practice, this is an exciting time to be working in research.

If you are new to the site, be sure to read the pages about how to participate and some blogging guidelines.

Here are a few updates to the site:

New categories

Authors should add a category label to each post, based on their cohort or topic of their writing. This allows the reader to find posts based on that category, as you can see in the site’s main menu. All participants are welcome to post in any category, and comment across the cohort groups. The new categories are Multilingual Education, Inclusive Education, School Leadership, and Thesis Writing.

NUGSE Research in Education

This semester we will be launching the first student-run academic journal at Nazarbayev University, NUGSE Research in Education. You can find the blog for the journal here, but you will also see news and updates on NUWG.  This journal is a great opportunity for students to become authors, peer reviewers and editors in the publication process. More details will be announced soon.

Alumni and Current Students

This is also the first year we have enrolled users that include alumni and current students. Hopefully, some of our alumni can keep in touch and stay involved by joining the discussions that our current students are having. Their experience in completing the NUGSE program, and then moving to the professional world (or on to a PhD or some other academic program), will be invaluable for our community. Don’t be a stranger!

Happy New Year, and here’s to the beginning of a bright and exciting new semester!

Welcome students!

Here is a sample post to get us started this week. Check your emails for a picture tutorial about creating posts and tagging your post with appropriate Categories. If you are working with davidphilip, please choose Section 1 as your category. If you are working with anninastana, please select Section 2. This will help us organize and assess your writing. You will see these categories as tags on the main page if you just want to read writing by your cohort classmates.

Feel free to add pictures or links to videos. Be sure to add credits and citations for all external sources you use. This week, your goal is log in and make your first post. Remember to check the blogging guidelines and the syllabus for requirements.

Happy blogging!

Image credit: http://www.hist-chron.com

Code Switching

Image credits: grammarlycards.com
Image credits: grammarlycards.com

You are at class, discussing the new educational reforms and talking to the professor in a professional manner; you almost look like a politician. 1:00 PM. The class is over and curtains fall; habitually, you start talking to your friends in a completely different manner. Relaxed and easygoing, you turn on your loud and offstage voice – hitherto undetected by the professors. And here is your professor, who has not left the room yet, taken aback by your transformation. And that transformation is a code switching. Code switching is the alternation of languages (Poplack, 1980) as well as behaviours (Zeller, 2004). But the question here is why we switch codes? Different researchers have identified different reasons and the most common are:

  • To match the situation

The way we talk or behave in front of the employer differs dramatically from the one when with parents. Behavioural code switching is a matter of etiquette here; there is a behaviour that is appropriate at home but inappropriate in public (Zeller, 2004).

  • To show solidarity

Janet Holmes (2013) mentions in her book that, ‘a speaker may switch to another language as a signal of group membership. People from different or the same ethnic groups can use code switching to express intercommunity. For example:

Bauyrzhan: Салем (kaz. Hi), Стас! Погоняем мяч (rus. Let’s play football)!

Stas: Жооок (kaz. Nooo)! Я устал (rus. I am tired)!

Bauyrzhan: Ну, давай (rus. Come on)! Қызық будет (kaz. rus. It will be fun)!

In the example, it can be clearly found that the Bauyrzhan uses the Russian to cut through the barrier; to establish solidarity.

  • To express affection

Some feelings and attitudes are not that easy to be expressed. Speakers may switch codes to express amazement, frustration, sadness, happiness and many other feelings.

Janet Holmes (2013) says, “A language switch . . . is often used to express disapproval. So a person may code switch because they are angry.” Let me give you a good example about code-switching to express affection.

A mother calls her son “Балам, мында кел” {Son, come here!} When he does not respond quickly enough she switches to Russian: ‘Балам, ты идешь или нет!’ [Are you coming or not!] ”

In the above example, the mother used the Russian language to express her anger of the child’s behaviour.

  • To convey a thought

A perfect bon mot (a witty remark) is needed to convey the certain concepts and to come across effectively. Many people switch languages to express particular ideas, as in the case of Jennifer Monahan:

According to her story, she works in a bilingual school and code switches whenever there is a lexical gap in one of the    languages. E.g when they talk in French and mention about a smart board, she say “le smart board”. The notion of having a designated container to bring your lunch from home is foreign for the French. So they all refer to “le lunchbox”.

Learning the basis of code switching is important in terms of self control. The lessons of acceptable conduct are defined by the family and society in which one was brought up (Zeller, 2004). The decision to code switch in behaviours or languages is up to our judgement. Becoming critical thinkers, behaving according to the context and continuously growing linguistically, regardless of the language in which we prefer to do it, are the most important things here. But if Kazrunglish is a part of who you are and as long as it is appropriate, don’t worry, code-switch away!

Holmes, J. (2013). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Routledge.

Poplack, S. (1980). Sometimes i’ll start a sentence in spanish y termino en espanol: toward a typology of code-switching1. Linguistics, 18(7-8), 581-618.

Zeller, D. L. (2004). Professional Documentaion Journal. Unpublished manuscript.

Words HURT…

Image credit: http://www.tolerance.org/bully-at-blackboard
Image credit: Mark McGinnis

“Teacher, I forgot to do my homework”

“Why haven’t you forgotten your head instead?”

Most of the teachers at my elementary school felt themselves responsible for making us pay for our errors by punishing, humiliating in front of the class or even calling our parents. I always felt sorry for one boy, Utegenov, who usually had to stand in front of the class while listening to the teacher’s sermons. His head down, he would then follow her finger which pointed to the corner of the classroom. Did it change anything? No. Every day was Groundhog Day for him. Lessons associated with humiliation and fear of failure are never going to inspire children to study. The students learn best in a mistake-friendly environment and when they are told that making mistakes is normal.

Just out of curiosity, I tried typing “дети учатся лучше когда …” (students learn best when) on the search engine and the findings were not surprising at all. “When parents believe in them” and “when they do mistakes” are the most popular ones. One of the reasons of fearing failure is high expectations (Steifer, 2001). It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that parents believe in their child’s abilities. The notion that the failure equals intellectual inferiority is fundamentally wrong. Students who are afraid to fail are most likely to abate their efforts next time (Cole, 2014). There is even a word for the fear of failure – atychiphobia. To change the attitude towards the mistakes, children should be taught that failures are inevitable and they should be viewed as valuable lessons.

By creating a psychologically safe place for children, it is likely that we diminish the chance that students will become reluctant to learn. According to the most eminent proponent of human development theory, Albert Bandura (1989), it is crucial that one has a belief in one’s own efficacy:

Persons who have a strong sense of efficacy deploy their attention and effort to the demands of the situation and are spurred by obstacles to greater effort (p. 394).

Hence, one particular solution comes to my mind. Imagine those children so excited to write their first letters at class, pinching the pen between those little thumb and point finger. They do their best to write correctly and neatly, but mostly they fail to do it the first times and unmerciful red “F” is written in their workbooks. Imagine another situation where children are given pencils instead of pens. They would be able to erase their mistakes and have a chance to correct them – this would be a good lesson to start with. Helping children to perceive their mistakes positively is priceless. Even when we have to discipline children, teachers and adults should uphold the dignity of the children because as in the case of Utegenov, humiliation never worked and never will.

References

Bandura, A. (1989). Regulation of cognitive processes through perceived self-efficacy. Developmental psychology, 25(5), 394.

Cole, S. “Fail again. Fail better.” Failure in the Creative Process. Steifer, S. J. (2001, 10). Don’t let fear of failure hold you back! Current Health 1, 25, 14-16. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/209833604?accountid=134066

Steifer, S. J. (2001,10). Don’t let fear of failure hold you back! Current Health 1, 25, 14-16. Retrieved from http://http://search.proquest.com/docview/209833604?accountid=134066

A Girl with Dombra

Over the last hour, approximately 21 girls have been born in Kazakhstan (Committee on Statistics, 2014) and they will soon be looking for a role model to follow. As history is mostly silent about women, it is our duty to teach our young girls the examples and legacies our grandmothers left. Having a real, strong and positive female role model in the history is important if we are to transmit the moral and spiritual values of the Kazakh to our young ladies of the new generation. One such story, told by her granddaughter, is about a strong woman who saw all the cruelties of colonization and wars, but never ever gave up the hope of a bright future for her children.

During Stalin’s forced famine of 1932- 1933, the Kazakh had their food taken away and were left to die from starvation. At the same time a witch hunt on thousands of Kazakh leaders, writers and intellectuals began and they were falsely accused of plotting an armed revolt. The population of the Kazakh dropped from 7 million to less than 2 million (Khan, 2014) and those who left were mostly women. Dead silence… but far in the depths you would hear the dombra. It was her, Dina, disciple of the Great Kurmangazy himself.

She was a tall, strong and indefatigable woman. Very straightforward, she would never fall in line. When her husband Nurpeyis died, she was pregnant with her third child and called him Jurinbay (from Kazakh word жұрын – what is left) – remainder. According to the old Kazakh tradition, she married her husband’s brother, Nurali, after his death. They had many children but some of them died in infancy.

In 1916, in the time of World War I, when the tsarist government decided to mobilize men of the minority ethnicities to the front, the oppressed people of Middle Asia rose in rebellion against the colonial policies. Dina’s kuy (folk instrumental piece played on the dombra) “1916”, unlike other composers’ works, was optimistic, even though her son Jurinbay was taken away too. There was no crying, nor complaint, nor gloom. All you could hear was the tramp of horses and the joy of people who had heard the great news about the white tsar being overthrown.

As difficult times began again in 1921 and partly because she was the second wife, Dina and Nurali decided to divorce. As the famine started she and her ten children migrated to Astrakhan, Russian SFSR. In order to save her children from starvation she gathered millet in the mountains, grinded it into flour and other cereal products and made porridge.

She managed to save all her children through these hard times. But in 1941 the World War II had began and all her four sons were called to the front. She never complained. Dina wrote another moving kuy “Order of Mother”. Even when only two of her sons returned, she celebrated the victory of her people and composed the kuy of the same name.

Image credit: http://e-history.kz/ru/publications/view/906
Image credit: http://e-history.kz/ru/publications/view/906

Dina Nurpeisova was one of the amazing women by virtue of whom the Kazakh nation could regenerate later. The lives of those women can teach our children how strong Kazakh women can be. The story of the greatest woman dombra player should be written in golden letters in the pages of history, because history is “herstory” too.

References

Erkebay, A. (2012, January 1). Interview with Balzhan Nurpeisova, the granddaughter of Dina Nurpeisova. Retrieved         February 18, 2015, from http://anyzadam.kz/jo/info/1272/

Hamit, A. (2014, November 14). Asemkonyr – Mother’s Benediction/ Retrieved February 18, 2015, from http://aizhanhamit.kz/%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%BC%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BD%D1%8B%D1%80-%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B5-%D0%B1%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B5/

Khan, S. (2014, February 3). The losses of the Kazakh after the famine of 1932-1933. Retrieved February 18, 2015, from http://www.megapolis.kz/art/Poteri_kazahov_ot_goloda

Ministry of National Economy of the Republic Kazakhstan. Committee on Statistics (2014). “Birth rate in Republic of Kazakhstan in 2013”. 21 May 2014

The struggle with an ideology…

nydailynews.com

Is this and this not a provocation, guys?

The spread of terrorist acts significantly changed the lives of people and the perception of Islamic religion around the world. To the continuation of the classroom discourse about the accident on 7 of January I would like to provide the prehistory of the terrible events in Paris.
Charlie Hebdo – is a satirical magazine mocking politicians, religion and famous people very often of the obscene character. First impingement was in 2011, when the caricaturists published Muhammad prophet naked, causing the act of the office bombing and the Charlie Hebdo website hacking. After the distribution of the film “Innocence of Muslims” French journalists supported the anti- Islamist video publishing negative and even offensive utterances about the prophet and were assaulted. In the course of attacks 12 people including two policemen were killed.
Our Professor asked us to analyze whether the events in Paris somehow connected with the ideology of linguistic purity. According to Weber & Horner (2012), the ideology of purity declares that people have a belief that the only one norm or reality exists and diversity of different views on life should be eradicated. The ideology of purism could provoke racial disturbances, wars; terrorist attacks on the account of religion. Salman Rushdie (2003), states that “those who embrace difference are in danger from the apostles of purity” (as cited in Weber & Horner, 2012, p. 21). The ideology of the purity might evoke the struggle for the power, and that way it could become a real social as well as political danger for human beings. Langer and Davies (2005), mentioned about the emotional factors that drive the influential members of society to perceive things in accordance with their own beliefs and values (as cited in Weber & Horner, 2012, p. 20).
There is a harsh critique in the society. On the one hand people believe that the murders upheld the name of the Prophet because the pictures hurt feelings of all the religious people. However it is refuted by those who argue for the freedom of expression and accept those pictures as a joke.
The linguistic purity here means not the preservation, revitalization or standardization of the language but the way the caricaturists metaphorically showed harsh criticism and censorial pictures of the Islamic prophet which you can see above. Terrorists might hold the idea of purity and did not accept that derision of the Saint. This gives me better understanding of the necessity to pay attention to the education as one of the most important sphere of human future life. If we, future leaders in education, claim to bring up a generation which will be tolerant, democratic and intelligent. How can we attack the roots of religious discrimination? As for me, there is a great need now not to develop the extra abilities, but to start from the very beginning is to bring up a kind-hearted individual who will be abide by the humane rules, will not abandon himself to despair and will think with his own head. Consequently, the terror act was an example of the one-sided life perception that caused such irreversible consequences taken away lots of human lives.
What do you think about this act? What side are you for? Do you think that the ideology of purity could lead to such kind of terrorist acts? Does this act shows that we should start implement teaching subject “religion” at schools? So, is it an ideology or another reason for that kind of action?

References:
Weber, J-J. & Horner, K. (2012). Introducing multilingualism: A social approach. Abingdon: Routledge.

Incorporating humor in your lesson

keep-calm-and-pretend-it-s-on-the-lesson-plan-66Of course, it was hard to leave the zone of serious writing (“Everything matters: Globalization and Education”) and start to write about flowers, kids and all that vanilla topics. Nevertheless, I managed to progress. My last post collected only one comment, highly disappointed, in tears, I decided to go to the “dark side”. Now you can surely put my piece of writing on the same shelf with “Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand?” (Tolkamp, Haskell, Langford, Roberts, & Morgan, 2010) and “Describing the relationship between cat bites and human depression using data from an electronic health record” (Hanauer, Ramakrishnan, & Seyfried, 2013) (I strongly recommend davidphilip to create a new category and call it “What makes people happy?”). I clearly understand, that from the moment I decided to publish this post I definitely killed myself in future as Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, but still hope to get at least a good grade by English.

I bet that you will read my post after such effective introduction. The secret is that humor works exactly the same way not only in a written text but in a classroom as well. My second post aims to explore the power of laughter, which effectively promotes students’ learning.

Jonah, 5th grade pupil refuses to read, write and do anything (Karschney, 2012). The team of two teachers starts to spend half of the day with him, teaching Jonah to read. Among a number of techniques used to engage student in a process of reading, Karschney mentions a positive impact of humor, which they incorporated to ruin the barriers of anxiety and fear of struggling student. The teachers started to laugh on themselves, inviting Jonah to do the same and see himself differently, from a different angle. At the same time, they created special literacy jokes understandable only for their students, they read funny books and laughed until they cried. And what was the result? Jonah started to read! The positive atmosphere, a new type of relationships between student and teacher, inspired him to perceive the ordinary activity in a different way.

There are a number of successful examples of humor incorporation; however, we as educators should remember some basic rules of using humor on the lesson. Lynda L. Ivy (2013) states that humor should be appropriate for age and grade level. The differentiation of age plays an important role in the understanding of humor. For instance, children younger than 12 may not understand such abstract ideas as irony and sarcasm. Jokes in a high school are different in a way that students of this age often project everything on themselves. The teacher should be careful in selecting humor; keeping in mind, that joke should not single out any student. At the same time, it is preferable for humor to correspond to the lesson’s content.  College or university professors may use humor to alleviate “hard” lessons, such as university-level math. Students in this group always expect professor to joke, which makes his work even easier.

Coupled with that, we have a huge arsenal of tools such as jokes, stories, cartoons, pictures and videos. They are easily accessible on the Internet; moreover, students themselves may be regarded as resource of funny content (Ivy, 2013). Finally, we should remember that there is a thin edge between misuse and overuse of humor. Use of humor in an appropriate way will make your lesson interesting and will shift your work to enjoyable activity.

 References:

Hanauer, D., Ramakrishnan, N., & Seyfried, L. (2013, August 1). Describing the relationship between cat bites and human depression using data from an electronic health record. PLoS ONE, 8(8). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070585

Ivy, L. (2013, February – March). Using humor in the classroom. The Journal of Adventist Education, 39-43.

Karschney, K. (2012, March). Inspiring a nonreader. Educational Leadership, 69(6).

Tolkamp, B., Haskell, M., Langford, F., Roberts, D., & Morgan, C. (2010, April). Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 124(1-2), 1–10.