Humour Your Class! Mukesh Shelat, Principal, Delhi Public School Varanasi

Mukesh Shelat is the Principal at Delhi Public School Varanasi, with an Experience of 24 year in the field of Education. Awarded as the Eduprenuer of the year 2012- by Times of India Mahamana Samman by Banaras Hindu University.

“Laugh and the world laughs with you…’’

As I recited this line from Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in class I realised I had been speaking for the past twenty minutes to a class that was listening in as we teachers say, “pin drop silence.” Don’t get me wrong the silence was not due to any apparent mesmerising effect my teaching had on them. Those who lorded over the last bench (LLB) directly displayed disinterest. A few were yawning widely while those in the front row surreptitiously. As their new young untrained teacher I was desperately trying to connect with them. As I stammered over the first line of the poem again the irony of the title hit me hard. I was teaching in ‘solitude’ in the midst of a class of 35 Bhavanites as we were know in the Bhavan’s School at Kodaikanal, a salubrious hill station in Tamil Nadu. As I repeated the line ‘laugh and the world laughs with you…..’ I heard a soft mutter that said, “Only if you allow us to laugh” I went pale but the instant wit of the student had me in splits. On seeing this, the entire class 12 burst out laughing.‘Veni, vidi, vici’ Instantly I felt like Julius Caesar.

To this day I thank Srikumar for helping me connect with the class; a ‘connect’ that has stood the test of time, thanks to FB, Twitter & the much abused Instagram! That moment played and replayed “but with little thought what wealth the show to me had brought” Srikumar had taught me a life changing lesson that I not only practiced but mastered. To this day I make a conscious and informed effort to bring laughter into my teaching & training sessions. For, a session on inheritance & variation, through the recitation of Kipling’s ‘If’ to the concepts of differentiation & integration can numb the spirits of even the most enthused of pupils. In a virtual classroom it is an arduous task to keep the students engaged. The phantom thread through which we connect to faceless cameras gives us hope that all is well at the other end!

‘Laughter breaks’ in class are as important as toilet breaks; they not only “relieve” monotony but also heighten the learning experience! My experience, the experience of many other educators and some empirical research indicate a wide variety of potential benefits of humour in uniform. Google is agog with ways to use humour in class. However the best suggestion is to use humour in your assessment. It will go a long way in reducing exam stress and improving performance.

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