Humor has been largely relegated to date as a mere supplementary matter in education and thus excluded in language curricula. This study critically reviews the state of affairs and proposes that humor be included in the curricular content for its diverse educational and pedagogical advantages.
Humor education can uphold the spirit of the 2015 Revised National Curriculum for Korean Language Education and effectively produce the desired effects in language education. The National Curriculum places emphases on the following six objectives, and the following point-by-point details present how humor education is related with the points in support of the proposal for humor education.
With respect to fostering critical and creative thinking, humor promotes such cognitive skills since it can keep the cognitive reasoning process flexible through the experience of processing seeming logical fallacies as well as simultaneously activating multiple schemata for humor production and comprehension. Such experience will result in dissolution of affective tension and creation of positive affective attitudes, which, in turn, will promote critical and creative thinking in general.
With respect to fostering skills for accessing useful information, humor helps students to be motivated and maintain the motivation in accessing and analyzing a wide variety of desired information due to the inherent pleasurable nature of humor. It also helps students to play active roles in class activities, and serves them to better retain the acquired information for future use. These aspects will increase the comprehension skills as well as problem-solving strategies in general.
With respect to fostering communication skills, humor helps participants in communicative activities to forge intersubjectification, which will lead to the development of effective communication skills in diverse social settings.
With respect to fostering interpersonal relationship skills, humor, as one of its most prominent properties, helps create emotional stability in the individuals within a speech community, which promotes the tolerance for differences and increases the power of control over stress and emotional upsurge. These qualities will obviously help individuals avoid conflicts or confrontations, prevent their face from being threatened, and relieve unwanted self-exposure in relationship.
With respect to fostering cultural awareness, humor, inherently culture-bound, helps students to remain keen to culture and understand the current culture at a deeper level because humor invariably works on associative patterns and collective perceptions of the community members. This enhanced understanding of culture promotes the multiliteracies and cultural literacy, which is a valuable quality for individuals in an increasingly multicultural society, in which tolerance and flexibility for diversity are increasingly becoming indispensable.
With respect to fostering self-reflection and self-development, humor promotes the sense of self-efficacy, creates positive self-identity, enhances self-respect, and advances positive viewpoints in any given circumstances. These qualities help individuals to reflect on themselves and pursue self-development.
It is imperative that humor education address not only the development of skills of humor production, but also the development of coping skills in diverse situations by means of humor, the formation of positive attitudes toward humor, and the advancement of capabilities of humor appreciation. It needs to be also stressed that humor education should place special emphases on developing humor skills for edifying relationship and self-enhancement, and in addition on alerting students of the dangers of aggressive humor and the destructive power of self-defeat humor.