Saturday, April 14, 2012

Is It Okay To Use Humor In The Classroom?

Source: Someecards
We admit it. We like to joke around with our students. Sometimes it's the only way to grab their attention or to get through a trying Friday afternoon. The nameless philosopher who warned against using sarcasm in the classroom obviously never taught middle school.

Source: Someecards
Recently our Pinterest boards have been blowing up with nearly identical, witty graphics all styled from the same pattern. They feature early 20th-century advertising icons paired with ultra-contemporary, snarky comments. Pop culture blogs and Facebook timelines have been full of these semi-naughty visuals. The trendy images play off the 1950s "Mad Men" ethos by updating the classic calling card with a modern cynicism.

Source: Someecards
Someecards is the source of these popular gags. Originally intended as e-greetings for birthdays or anniversaries, Someecards' open-source, write-anything capability quickly lured clever pranksters to mix anachronistic illustrations with ribald sneers. The retro kitsch gives a nod to the buttoned-up morals of yesteryear, but the techno-savvy, off-color captions bring delightful modern mockery.

Source: Someecards
There may be a way to use a scaled-down, less-racy version of these images in the classroom. The unexpected juxtapositions offer good lessons for students in word play and language choices. Please note that we would never send kids to the actual Someecards website, because many of the designs are inappropriate. The adult humor is too lewd for most ages.

Source: Someecards
The free functionality, though, could be great to make graphics for class Prezis or visual aids. Teachers could create trading cards for interactive exercises, or they could brand their own projects with customized logos. The ironic messaging could also be helpful for media literacy discussions. If you must use a worksheet (which we strongly urge against), some silly panels could perk up the handouts. Or they would make lively tools to teach humor and puns to straight-laced kids. Finally, like in the New Yorker cartoon caption contest, students could size up a picture and invent their own punch lines. Teachers could then go online and produce the actual print.

Remember, you should definitely check out the Someecards site yourself, to screen for vulgar content.

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