Date of Completion

January 1983


Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Recently there has been an increase in research focusing on children's humor. The research, however, has been concerned with an individual's or group's response to a particular stimulus. There has been a lucunae of research which examines in situ the invention, presentation, and appreciation of children's classroom humor.^ This ethnography determines the function of classroom humor by examining closely the activities, expressed attitudes, and roles which exist in the classroom. The research examines the information obtained from participant observation, formal and informal interviews, and written documentation from schools, teachers, and students. Analysis is made by identifying categories of behaviors which are co-existent with humorous situations.^ The goals of this research are to attempt to understand humor's function in the classroom, to develop a model which pictorally represents classroom activities and humor's role among these activities, and to generate a grounded theory about humor's function for school groups.^ This research concludes that humor functioned as a socializer in the classrooms studied. The socializing effect occurred in three ways. First, the teachers employed the "joking relationship" to inform students of group expectations; secondly, teachers used and encouraged the use of certain humor techniques in the classroom; and thirdly, the definition of acceptable humor was given by teachers in several ways.^ The model presents a picture of classroom behaviors as if the teacher were a tightrope walker carrying children from one platform (grade) to another. Humor is designated as a balancing pole to be used by students to aid both teachers and pupils to reach their goal.^ The grounded theory emphasizes the importance of the teacher's definition of what is humorous. Rather than simply a tool for persons to use in coping with their individual lives, humor acts as an acceptable way to inform children of social expectations. ^