Independent Thinking on Laughter

Using humour as a tool to engage and motivate all learners

By: Dave Keeling


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 198 x 126mm
Pages : 144
ISBN : 9781781353417
Format: Paperback
Published: February 2020

Dave Keeling's Independent Thinking on Laughter: Using humour as a tool to engage and motivate all learners is an uplifting manifesto packed with tips and techniques to help educators unleash the power of humour and laughter in the learning environment.

Foreword by Ian Gilbert.

Education is too important to be taken seriously: everyone in our schools – from the youngest learner to the, ahem, most senior' teacher – likes to laugh.

And beyond the many stress-busting and morale-boosting benefits that laughter brings on an individual level, the collective rewards of laughter in the classroom setting are also numerous – such as enhancing openness and teamwork, stimulating imagination and creativity and, above all, strengthening the student'teacher relationship.

No one is more familiar with the power of classroom conviviality than 'stand-up educationalist' and Independent Thinking Associate Dave Keeling, who in this book takes readers on an enlightening journey into the part that humour can play in improving the learning experience for all concerned.

Writing with his trademark wit, Dave shares handy hints acquired from his experience in the world of comedy and offers a veritable smorgasbord of activities for use with learners – all proven to generate laughter, enhance learning and make the teacher look great.

The teacher's mission, if they choose to accept it, is to take these ideas and exercises and adapt, enjoy, explore and generally mess about with them to their heart's content.

An inspiring read for all teachers and educators.

Independent Thinking on Laughter is an updated edition of The Little Book of Laughter (ISBN 9781781350089) and is one of a number of books in the Independent Thinking On ... series from the award-winning Independent Thinking Press.

Picture for author Dave Keeling

Dave Keeling

Dave Keeling has been a professional actor and stand-up' educationalist for more than two decades, working the length and breadth of the UK with teachers, pupils and parents. Whether it's leading a workshop with challenging teenagers, speaking to a hall-full of equally reluctant teachers or delivering a keynote for school leaders looking for the cure to recalcitrance in their school, Dave never fails to leave delegates happy, moved, less stressed and feeling a great deal more motivated by the job in front of them.


  1. This book takes you on a short but enlightening journey concerning the importance of humour in life in general and in education in particular. It also looks at humour as a tool to engage and motivate all learners. The book falls into two parts. The first part looks at the world of humour and comedy - exploring sense of humour, playfulness, elements of science and humour, humour tricks, secrets of stand-up, and finally the importance of humour in improvisation and teaching. The second part of the book looks at improving learning and making everything better through building up rapport, spontaneity, triggering creativity, being silly and messing about. My favourite sections are those on humour activities, improvisation games and how to make students think, wonder, laugh and learn. The author finishes the book with some tips, food for thought and ideas for further development. Great fun.
  2. Dave Keeling's Independent Thinking on Laughter is an enthralling book filled with brilliant ideas on how to make learning fun, enjoyable and meaningful, for both the teacher and the learners.

    Those readers like myself who have taught, spoken or coached in tough environments will know that humour breaks down barriers, generates bonding and promotes relationships with the audience. As Dave emphasises, the key to success is to gain experience by putting into practice some of the techniques that he outlines. Once you have enjoyed the buzz or burn, as the author describes it, you will gain the confidence to rule the stage and hold the focus of the crowd. The approaches detailed in this book will help you to build rapport with your learners and, as the author says, -˜get their creative juices flowing'.

    Independent Thinking on Laughter will enhance the skills of all teachers to engage, motivate and inspire their learners.-‹
  3. Dave Keeling's Independent Thinking on Laughter is a delightful book that concisely brings together some of the key ideas and facts about the positive impact of laughter in order to make the case for the use of humour in the educational setting. Keeling engages with a range of different perspectives on humour - from the scientific views on the impact of laughter and our brain's processing of humour, to the use of improvisational theatre techniques - and offers a resounding argument for incorporating play and laughter in the classroom.


    It is an engaging read, full of comic examples and interludes which Keeling then takes care to unpack. Indeed, through his humorous and engaging writing, Keeling is modelling his suggested practice for the reader.

    Keeling offers a useful distinction between laughter and humour - and the discussion on humour as a way of seeing and processing the world, as a cognitive process, is particularly relevant for the reader. He makes a strong case for the inclusion of humour in learning, emphasising its essential role as a communication tool. One of the key areas of the book is that it encourages the reader, and accordingly the educator, to consider their presentation of self to the rest of the world and, more specifically, the classroom. It encourages people to reflect on their body language, facial expressions, words and voice (tone and pitch) and to consider how they can use these to create an atmosphere of play, experimentation and fun in order to create more in-depth or -˜sticky' learning, through emotional connections. Keeling offers useful examples throughout the book, and the final chapter outlines 30 different exercises and approaches to working with humour and laughter in order to develop children's reasoning, analysis, debating, memory and literacy skills, in an enjoyable and engaging manner.

    Independent Thinking on Laughter encourages the reader to find their own comedy influences, to consider what it is that they find funny and to note when they are funny, in order to take these ideas and experiences and to develop them into approaches they can employ in their own teaching. Crucially, this book inspires and encourages the possibility of risk-taking and laughter and the benefits of such play in your teaching practice - and, just as importantly, it makes you laugh.
  4. Anyone who has had the privilege of being in a room with Dave Keeling would want to buy this book and learn how to adopt even just a little bit of the energy he radiates when creating -˜aha!' - and, indeed, -˜haha!' - learning moments through playfulness and humour. Brilliantly written with top tips and ideas that will engage even the most challenging of audiences, Independent Thinking on Laughter will help you develop ways to bring energy, silliness and creativity to all learners. So open up your mind and step into these pages with all your childlike delight.
  5. David Keeling is the Patch Adams of education. As accountability and the pressure on schools and teachers continue to rise, Independent Thinking on Laughter represents a much-needed reality check on what schools, childhood and growing up is all about.
  6. It seems obvious that schoolchildren like funny teachers, but perhaps it is less obvious that they might learn more when lessons are funny. In case you have ever been in any doubt about this, or simply had never thought of it before, Dave Keeling presents an extremely strong case for it in Independent Thinking on Laughter. Your first thought, upon being convinced, may well be: -˜Oh crap, I'm just not funny!' However, Dave is on hand to show you the ways in which you can harness humour for yourself, and put it to good use in your lessons.

    Alongside enlightening quotations sprinkled through each chapter, Dave shares his expertise on how we can use techniques from stand-up comedy in our teaching - techniques that can be learned by those who do not necessarily have a natural talent for humour. Confidence, he explains, comes after experience, not before - a point which I have subsequently used to good effect to bolster bravery and even a little recklessness in my own students. At the end of the book he gives us a compendium of 30 exercises that can be tried right away in lessons - and what teacher doesn't love a giveaway?

    This book is the perfect antidote to energy-sapping staffroom cynics - an optimistic and joyful shot in the arm for anyone who feels their enthusiasm for teaching might be slipping. Laugh off those directives and specification changes, and give your teaching a humour injection.
  7. Dave Keeling takes the old saying -˜Make 'em laugh, make 'em think' and transforms it into a clear, informative and enjoyable handbook that shows teachers of all age ranges how to use humour in education. Independent Thinking on Laughter blends an analysis of different forms of comedy into a handy DIY guide that provides a series of -˜seriously funny' jokes which will make both teachers and pupils laugh out loud.

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