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Humour and Health
Did you know that laughing is good for your health? That's right – laughter is a medicine! Apparently studies have shown that laughing can bring down your blood pressure, give your immune system a boost and affect the number of stress hormones produced in the body. A good laugh also contributes to pain control by leading to the production of endorphins in the brain. But when you go to your doctor does he or she go out of his or her way to make you laugh? Probably not, but don't lose heart. More and more doctors are becoming aware of the health benefits of having happy patients. Perhaps no one is more aware than the American doctor known as "Patch" Adams.
Patch Adams was born on 28th May, 1945 in Washington, DC. He graduated from Virginia Medical College in 1971 and, soon afterwards, founded the Gesundheit Institute, a clinic which aims to provide patients not only with medical care but with compassion too. But Patch Adams is not just a doctor – he is also a professional clown who believes that the health of patients can also be improved by including humour in the treatment. Red noses are part of his repertoire, as are whoopee cushions and the like. His unorthodox but apparently successful approach was captured on film in the eponymous movie, directed by Tom Shadyac. However, it is not only doctors who are beginning to realise just how beneficial laughter can be.
Laughter and Learning
Teachers who do not use humour in the classroom are starting to realise that their students are losing out. It comes as no surprise to hear that stressed students have more difficulty learning than relaxed, happy students and recent studies suggesting that laughing during lessons can relax students and facilitate learning confirm this. In spite of this few coursebooks approach teaching from a humorous angle. It is left up to the teacher to inject humour into the lessons. However, teachers are not comedians. Their job is not to entertain students but to teach them. Some teachers are concerned that if their students laugh a lot it indicates a lack of control on the teacher's part. Clearly some balance is needed. Using funny stories, cartoons etc. in the classroom can be lots of fun if it's relevant to what the students are studying. Inviting students to source their own jokes can also be good fun and the basis for a future lesson. Telling jokes often forms part of natural conversation and as such could be included naturally in language lessons by the teacher simply as a listening exercise. No comprehension task would be needed – it would be easy to see who had understood the joke and who hadn't!
Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
1. Patch Adams founded the Gesundheit __________.
2. __________ students have more difficulty learning than relaxed, happy students.
3. When you go to your doctor does he or she go out of his or her way to __________ you laugh?
4. Patch Adams’ unorthodox but apparently successful approach was captured on film in the __________ movie.
5. It is not only doctors who are beginning to realise just how beneficial __________ can be.
For use with Talking Point worksheets
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