Math Schtick

November 24, 2008 1 min read

Math for America, a non-profit that recruits math teachers, believes teachers could learn a thing or two about classroom management from stand-up comedians, according to New York magazine. Comedians, like teachers, struggle in front of tough crowds and their bad jokes can flop just like a lesson plan, but a good comedian knows how to get a laugh. In order to help math teachers connect with their audiences, the non-profit is offering after-school classes in improv comedy taught by an alum of Second City—the improv comedy troupe that launched the careers of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Amy Poehler.

For 7th grade teacher Liz Yockey who is taking the course, learning to talk in gibberish and pantomime the tango with a midget helped advance her comedy stylings in the classroom. “It’s a tragic mistake to try sarcasm with a class full of 7th graders…Some just aren’t there yet,” she explains. Teacher Annie Lerew understands the best comedic performances are those that are deliberate. “Say I have chalk on my face, or my fly is down—that’ll make the students’ day. …this helps you be intentionally funny.” Eighth grade teacher, Jason Tsui, agrees, “You want them to laugh with you, not at you.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.