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Two monks are meditating. One turns to the other and says, “Are you not thinking what I’m not thinking?”
If you got that joke, then you went through a series of higher-order thinking skills. You had to cognize and retain the joke’s set-up, and then you had to engage in lateral or divergent thinking to see the information in a new way to “get” the joke.
With that joke, we’ve engaged your whole brain, especially your frontal cortex. Your brain is in an anticipatory state, perfect for learning. Now, I could teach you algebra—if I actually understood algebra. But you get my point. Humor empowers learning.
Two TV antennas fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn’t much, but you should have seen the reception!
Researcher Robert Sylwester points out that emotion “drives attention, which in turn drives learning and memory” (1994). By advocating the use of humor in a learning situation, you are changing your emotional relationships in the classroom, creating an environment that reduces stress, fosters risk-taking, and enhances creativity and retention.
That’s why for more than 37 years, our organization, Wavelength, has been devoted to teaching teachers through the use of humor, laughter, and improvisation.
Our humor typically takes the form of sketch comedy, wherein we celebrate and satirize education, building community through laughter. With our improvisations, we demonstrate the importance of attention and relationships, employing all four 21st century skills to co-create something in the moment.
“If you want to be happy, make others happy.”
—H.H. Dalai Lama
In improv, your best chance at success is to make sure the other players are succeeding. If you are taking care of them, and they are taking care of you, much like the tenets of the whole child approach to education, you create a healthy, safe, and trusting environment where people are engaged, supported, and challenged. We know from learning research that’s just the environment we need for meaningful learning to take place.
Our ASCD Empower17 Opening General Session ensemble performance, “Those Who Laugh, Learn,” is designed to serve as a humorous overture to the themes of the conference. Through sketches and improvisational activities, we’ll take comedic license with ASCD Whole Child approach and the areas of focus around which the conference has been structured.
We’ll set the stage for your own learning experience with the aim of making you laugh (emotion), creating anticipation about the conference ideas (attention), and getting you to see things in a new way (learning). By tickling your emotions, we hope to drive your attention and, in turn, drive your learning.
“If you haven’t got a sense of humor, you haven’t any sense at all.”
You can do this. You don’t have to be funny. You can be the facilitator and proponent, creating an environment of fun and an acceptance of positive humor. When we access our humor, we become not only more human but also more empowered trainers and learners.
We look forward to kicking off the ASCD Empower17 experience with a lot of fun, understanding, acceptance, and extraordinary collaboration.
Founded in 1980 by former high school English teacher Jim Winter, Wavelength Inc. is an ensemble of professional actors and educators who use humor, laughter, and improvisation to train, motivate, and inspire educators.
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Attendees must be 18 years of age or older to attend ASCD Empower17 and the Pre-Conference Institutes.
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February 10, 2017
Last day for
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March 13, 2017
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