When I was growing up, and my Dad would be watching golf on television (you know, back in the days when there was only one TV in most houses), and I would try to convince my Dad to change the channel to something more “fun.” He often laughed and said, there is nothing more fun than watching golf on TV. Well, I still do not seeing how watching golf on TV is fun. I suppose there may be a person or two who can’t see how a statistics class can be fun, too.
Nonetheless, when teaching statistics, we really should make at least some of it fun. There are lots of ways to do that. Today, I want to bring to your attention research reviewed by Lesser and Pearl (2008) about the benefit of humor in the teaching of statistics http://www.amstat.org/publications/jse/v16n3/lesser.html. Lesser and Pearl review how humor not only increases students’ favorable ratings about a class, but actually increases their memory for important information. After all, even if all it does it gets your students to come to class, the rest of your teaching can take hold. Thus, there really is a benefit in trying to bring humor into your classroom.
I know that not everyone is naturally funny. So, if you need help, I encourage you to go to http://www.causeweb.org/resources/fun/ and look under their “fun” section. It is filled with funny movie clips, cartoon, and songs. If you have resources that are funny, please send them along.
Have fun teaching statistics!