Make them smile - build a bridge

The current environment has reactivated a thought I’ve had for some time about the use of humour in school communications. Simply put, it really doesn’t exist. COVID-19 has seen a rise in humorous content across society, from memes to song-word substitutions.

Have you heard the Sounds of Silence theme sung to “sneaking out in silence”?

From my own observations, humour is creeping into school comms in these challenging times. Teachers getting together (social distancing of course) to record their own song mash-ups, to parents submitting videos of humorous things the kids are up to during home-schooling. I can only guess the rise has been somewhat of an antidote for our growing anxieties.

Mark Twain said that " Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place”

Just prior to Easter, WA Premier Mark McGowen, signed a special eggs-emption assuring children that the Easter bunny was allowed to cross the border into WA. With COVID-19 having just landed and community fears running-high, the Premier’s humorous act did have us smile and for a moment de-stress.

Can a school principal be outwardly humorous, or has the position become so exacting that humour is seen as unprofessional? The premise I’m exploring is the use of humour as a bridge-builder to the community. Humour humanises us. 

I wrote some time ago that school communications were largely a public relations exercise, and if we take that a step further, the desired outcome being to build community. If we take Twain by his word, wouldn’t sprinkling “a sunny spirit’ be just the thing to bind us?

Perhaps next week, in your Principal’s message you can report on the truck incident down the road that saw thousands of copies of Roget's Thesaurus empty onto the roundabout. You observed that witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, shocked, astounded, amazed, confounded, astonished, overwhelmed, horrified, numbed, speechless and perplexed."

I think Mark Twain’s take on humour is worth exploring (studying, investigating……)


Denis Masseni
sponsor-ed Founder and Monash University Teaching Associate