What Makes Us Laugh?

Tuesday 23 April 2013

I've been teaching for quite a long time. I've seen a few things. I don't, however, think that I have ever witnessed a student laugh whilst reading an exam paper during an exam in an exam hall. Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect students to chuckle in exams, and a guffaw, a deeply felt belly laugh, is probably not apt. I reflected on this as I was marking Paper 1 responses which some of my students had written as part of their Grade 11 exam. I set the exam, and the second text that students could write about was the introduction to Bill Bryson's 'Fat Girls in Des Moines'. If you know the text I mean, you will know that it is brilliantly funny. Despite the obvious humour, many of my students didn't spot it. One the contrary; they found Bryson to be 'dark' and 'deeply serious' (to cite a couple of the students). I'm left wondering if we should simply ban funny texts in exams. If exams aren't fun or funny, then witty texts are just downright inappropriate. Well, arguably...

So, why do we laugh? Here is an article from the BBC website. It's part of a whole series of articles. They are good to read and, if you teach Theory of Knowledge (TOK), a good resource.


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