A study of laughter in science lessons



Laughter is a fundamental human phenomenon. Yet there is little educational research on the potential functions of laughter on the enacted (lived) curriculum. In this study, we identify the functions of laughter in a beginning science teacher's classroom throughout her first year of teaching. Our study shows that laughter is more than a gratuitous phenomenon. It is the result of a collective interactive achievement of the classroom participants that offsets the seriousness of science as a discipline. Laughter, whereas it challenges the seriousness of science, also includes the dialectical inversion of the challenge: it simultaneously reinforces the idea of science as serious business. Furthermore, levels of intimacy, complicity, and solidarity between the teacher and her students were reproduced and transformed through their laughter in class. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., Inc. J Res Sci Teach 48: 437–458, 2011