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Whilst pedagogical humour is a common teaching strategy employed by educators across compulsory education systems, a review of the extant literature expounds that it is a tool largely neglected by instructors throughout higher education. As such, this study sought to discern the perspectives of educators concerning the barriers to the use of humour in the teaching of Childhood Studies. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with five educators on the BA (Hons) Childhood Studies programme at a Yorkshire-based post-1992 university. Verbatim transcripts of the interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).
Respondents believed that an academic’s personality held a significant bearing upon their pedagogy, and therefore their use of classroom jocularity. Educators claimed that whilst pedagogical humour did have its benefits, it was also capable of causing offence, distracting from course content, and making students feel uncomfortable. Consequently, educators generated situated understandings of when and where they were permitted to employ pedagogical humour, and what form said humour should take; they were cautious not to overuse humour, and were also less likely to draw upon it when teaching emotive or distressing content, and when teaching groups of students they were less familiar with. Educators also noted that they were less likely to draw upon pedagogical humour in the lecture theatre, despite university-wide pressure for instructors to produce more interactive lectures.
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