I once saw on a teacher’s bulletin board a poster that said, “The laughing classroom is the learning classroom.” That truism has always stuck with me, and I’ve aspired to make it true of my classroom ever since. It’s true! Kids who are laughing are learning. This sounds counter-intuitive. We think that if kids are laughing, they aren’t listening, but the opposite is true. They are engaged at the deepest level. How can this be?
I remember, in my literature class in Bible college, my professor told the class we will learn more from our television viewing and leisure reading than we will from her class. I was stunned she would say such a thing, especially about her own class! She went on to explain that when we are taught something in a formal setting, we listen, but we evaluate. New information is passed through several grids where we decide whether we agree with the information. We evaluate the data against other information we have received, past experiences, and other sources, and a collective conclusion is made where we determine what we accept, and what we reject. It’s a healthy process, just as you are reading this and deciding whether you agree with what I am saying! However, she explained, when we are reading fiction or watching a movie or television (or today, a streaming service) we are more likely to drop all our filters because we believe we are simply enjoying “entertainment.” So we lower our guard! Ideas get a “free pass” around all our filters! We are more influenced by entertainment than we are through educational texts or lectures!
Why do you think the secular world targets children through books, TV shows, video games, movies, and even theme parks with anti-Christian messages? They know they can shape kids’ ideas about the world, relationships, history, science, and God better through entertainment than by directly attacking the Christian values they seek to undermine. They understand that children learn best when they don’t even know they are learning. Of course, this is a negative application of a universal truth of how children, and adults, learn best.
We too can capture the hearts of children – but for God! In our case, we aren’t manipulating or tricking them. Instead, we are making learning fun and sharing Truth. If we merely talk at kids or lecture them, we will never convince them. Pastors preach, but even great sermons are the least effective form of influencing adults. (Sorry, lead pastors, but it’s true.) But when children are laughing and enjoying learning, their hearts open to us and to God’s Truth wider than they ever will if we are just trying to teach raw truth blandly.
Heart change doesn’t happen merely in the mind – it happens in the heart – and laughter is the key that opens the heart.
If you are married, do you remember falling in love? Do you remember laughing together? Do you remember the glimmer in each other’s eyes? Do you remember that sparkle of joy that ignited your hearts? Salvation is more than a ticket to heaven; it’s a love relationship with God – and laughter can light the spark to ignite a life-long love relationship with God! Never forget that the laughing classroom is the learning classroom, and the genuinely learning classroom leads to transformed lives.