On sticks, jokes, teaching and life

So… The joke goes like this…   What do you call a boomerang that does not come back?  A stick!

I love jokes.  The simpler the better.  Humor, over the years, has become a vital tool for me, a viewpoint from which to start, a destination to arrive at.

Recently, I gained new perspective on my humerous approach to, teaching, presenting.  The opportunity to present at the German climber’s forum was a wonderful opportunity, granting me new insight into how I approach the task of teaching and how this presentation style is viewed.

You see, for me to laugh is to learn.  If I can chuckle, see a different side of a topic through humor, then I grasp the concept easier, remember subtle complexities for later mental digestion and assimilation.

There is some scientific backing to this.  Laughing releases hormones in the brain that can encourage retention, boost memory, aid in cognition.  Humor is also one way to set a context of learning in which the content of subject matter can be inserted.  The content of learning must be good, but will always fall short if the context is lacking.

Often my incessant jokes are misinterpreted as mere entertainment, but, in fact, I use them as a tool to convey the subject matter, to reinforce learning, to create a memorable experience and hence, share knowledge and experience.

More than that though, humor expresses my view of life, living and moving through this world.  Time is so unmercifully short, our most valuable resource.  Not laughing a bit at life, ourselves, our actions and enjoying the moments we live and string together to call a lifetime seems wasteful to me.  I feel obligated to help others enjoy the time they have decided to share with me when they come to participate in a class I conduct, a talk I give.  The students give of their time and attention, the least I can do is share my time, attention, experience and knowledge all wrapped in a package of humor.

So what is a boomerang?  A stick fashioned to fly in an ellipse.  If thrown properly the “boomerang” should arc away, then turn and arc back to our hand.  Failing this, it just falls to the earth, mission unaccomplished a mere “stick”

So what is learning and teaching?  An ellipse of it’s own.  A throwing out of ideas and thoughts, knowledge and experience.  When thrown properly, it arcs back, returning to the thrower lessons and knowledge of it’s own, gathered on the way.  Laughing, jokes and humor help me guide the experiences and lessons I choose to impart.  In turn humor aids the arc back, returns to me lessons and insight for my own mind and life.  Teaching draws me too it because it is such a two way street, just like a good joke.

A stick?  Well that is time killed not spent.



One thought on “On sticks, jokes, teaching and life

  1. Nice one, Tony, love the analogy of the boomerang, really rings true. I agree completely that teaching viewed as a one-way street is totally hollow. Why teach if your aim is not to also learn something?

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