Skip to content

The Psychology of Humor- Finding Purpose In Our Work

Having two campuses makes all the difference. Misora and Chelsea are both students from Winchendon’s NYC campus, but that didn’t stop them from taking advantage of the opportunities on Winchendon’s MA campus. The Brooklyn-based freshman and sophomore friends spent their Winter immersive learning experience (ColLAB) in Massachusetts and were determined to spend their Spring ColLAB there too. With their top three choices made, the two decided on the Psychology of Humor with Emily Loy.

Misora and Chelsea spent the two-week ColLAB period analyzing what makes people laugh, what happens to our brains when we laugh, and different types of humor. During the immersive class, Chelsea focused on the development of laughter in babies while Misora investigated the many ways people use humor as a coping mechanism. But what really got them laughing was their standup performance. The final part of the ColLAB process is when the students share what they learned and accomplished in a public forum: a symposium. This culmination of the immersive involves students in educating their peers on what they learned, and for Chelsea and Misora this meant putting on a one-night comedic performance.

Misora, a competitive skater, found her stomach full of butterflies. Chelsea, a soccer player, described it as “the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done”. While Chelsea and Misora haven’t signed up for an open mic night in NYC… yet, they stretched their comfort levels, overcame their fears, and discovered a new part of themselves. This is ColLAB.

By design, a Winchendon School education creates meaningful connections and purpose in all we do. An example of how we do this is through ColLABs.

Purpose Matters

Today, schools are shifting toward student-centered pedagogies. Rote memorization and classrooms where passive students are lectured don’t exist at The Winchendon School. Preparing for today’s college applications involves students doing real work in the world. Real work means planning, managing time and people, and collaborating to achieve a goal. According to Ross Wehner, such a model gives students purpose, and with purpose, “Colleges are seeing that purpose and passion correlate with success,” (Karen Kennkel, as quoted to Ross Wehner).

A Winchendon School education is innovative in that it provides this purpose. By examining what makes them uncomfortable (in the case of Misora and Chelsea, getting on stage), TWS students learn logic and critical thinking, as well as how to break large-scale real-world problems into manageable segments, and in doing so, develop leadership and managerial skills. Developing these skills means students can tackle the concepts in AP Calculus, a scene in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, or coding a robot.

Purpose and Immersive Learning: Why Is This Important?

Purpose matters. It keeps students engaged in their learning, and engaged students are the creators of the future. The careers your parents raised your family on may not exist by the time your child(ren) graduate college (or even high school!). Today’s students could be inventing their next jobs. A deep understanding of cultural backgrounds makes us all a better coworker and problem solver. If we hope to unleash our students’ potential and best prepare them for success in college and beyond, we should support them in their high school years to find and pursue their passions. When we do, great learning follows.

Further Reading:

Damon, William, The Path to Purpose
Howell, Matthew, The Importance of Purpose in Education
Wehner, Ross, A New Focus on Purpose-Based Learning