I'm here in Syracuse, NY facilitating the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program for a group of nineteen. It's a sponsored program, so we have participants from education, health care, and residential, even though the program is sponsored by a hospital.
We are required to wear hospital booties over our shoes when we enter one of the training rooms. The booties protect the floor from contamination. The reason is that the room is mostly used for women going through prenatal care and exercises in which they are required to lie on the floor. I can relate, as having lived in Japan, I know how the bottoms of shoes are viewed in that culture, so I certainly respect this rule.
Before we went to the room, I announced (innocently enough) that we would be conducting the exercise in the “booty room.” This announcement elicited some chuckles from the participants. When we approached the room for one of our activities, we noticed that plastic babies in blankets had been left on the floor like so many cute little bundles. One of the participants mentioned that we would have to REMOVE the babies. I then mentioned to the group that that was impractical because babies are usually MADE in the booty room. Again, chuckles and laughter followed. I don't pretend to be a comic, but I like to have fun with my groups.
The point I'm trying to make here is that humor is a great way to enhance the training process. Making jokes during training, using puns, and making light of situations can help people laugh and allow them to enjoy the class. When participants are laughing, they're having fun. And when participants are having fun, they're learning. Isn't learning what training is all about?
I have a saying that crisis intervention is too serious of a subject to take TOO seriously. If you're not laughing, you're crying. Certainly there are some subjects in the program that I never joke about. Physical intervention is one of those subjects. Additionally, I never joke about safety. But as far as I'm concerned, the rest is open to comedic interpretation. Of course, as facilitators, we have to use our best judgment.
I’m interested in your opinions on whether comedy and laughter are appropriate for teaching a course about crisis behaviors and interventions. Please respond by posting your comments!