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Title:The educative potential of humor
Author(s):York, Justin Grant
Director of Research:Higgins, Chris
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Burbules, Nicholas
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Mayo, Cris; Stengel, Barbara
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
incongruity theory
Abstract:This dissertation explores the educative potential of humor through the lens of the concept of incongruity. Drawing on two definitions of humor grounded in the Incongruity Theory of humor, I argue humor is educative in both instrumental and existential ways. Drawing on literature in philosophy, especially philosophy of humor and philosophy of education, as well as humor studies more generally, my argument is in two parts. The first part argues that humor can be understood instrumentally through the ways it supports educational endeavors such as learning the course content, creating a more open and relaxed learning environment, and developing moral dispositions such as patience or open-mindedness. The second part of my argument develops my idea of the humorist worldview. It looks to fill in a gap among those worldviews or interpretive frameworks already available for coping with incongruity of an existential sort, namely the absurdity of the human condition. The humorist worldview, by acknowledging the insights of the tragic sense of life, the ironic stance, and Homo risibilis, moves beyond these three worldviews by basing our experience of incongruity in the mundane and using that as space to explore more existential experiences of incongruity and absurdity through the lens of humor. This leads to my conclusion that humor and the humorist worldview is educative on several fronts. Humor is useful as a tool in educational settings in multiple ways, from helping students relax to supporting the development of cognitive and moral skills. Furthermore, humor and the humorist worldview are self-educative in that they reveal to us ourselves, creating a space for an honest appraisal of who we are, thus allowing us to adjust course toward a fuller understanding of our own flourishing. Finally, for teachers adopting a humorist worldview, there are several implications for one’s teaching practice. Considerations ranging from questions of indoctrination, what types and to what extent one should allow humor in the classroom, and what the ethical implications are in both teaching with an humorist worldview, as well as seeking to impart the same in one’s students would need to be further researched.
Issue Date:2017-10-10
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Justin Grant York
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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