Motivational HUMOR IN EDUCATION
I recently spoke to a bunch of partners and managers for the Colorado office of KPMG. Managers, partners, and a few support staff. They have had a tough year and needed a funny speaker to:
1. Make ’em laugh.
2. Give ’em a bit of motivational perspective about the upcoming year — and it’s fantastic opportunity.
The program was fun and well received. But for me the best part was the story of a young manager who came up to me after the speech and told me that this speech was especially relevant to him because it reminded him of a story from his college days.
It seems that he spent a semester abroad and returned to his college just as his classmates were in final exam week. They were tense and nervous about a huge exam. On a lark, he went to the exam too.
His friends knew what he was up to but many of his acquaintances knew him but hadn’t necessarily known that he just returned from a semester in Europe. They asked him, “Are you in this class? I haven’t seen you in here all semester!”
“Oh yeah,” he answered. ” I was busy, but I’m in the class. I missed a bunch but I’m here now.”
About 15 minutes after they started the exam, he threw up his hands and yelled, “I can’t do it! I can’t take it.” He ran down to the professor, tossed the exam to her and said, “The pressure is too much! I can’t take it! I’m a failure!”
(He had put the name “JOE KERR” on the test.)
The class was horrified. The professor was confused. His friends were (silently) cracking up.
After a few minutes, the professor said, “Ya know, I think that was a practical joke.” Eventually, the entire class laughed.
Good story, but it gets better: it turns out that MANY people approached this student later that day and week to THANK him for helping them relax and focus on the test. It turns out that many folks (with the benefit of hindsight) realized that they were way too uptight to excel on the exam. But the goofyness of the practlcal joke helped to pop the “stress balloon and enabled them to concentrate just on the test.
How ’bout that? Humor in action? Humor that helped managed stress? Laughter with a purpose? You bet!