They derail lessons, steal the spotlight and, to make matters worse, sometimes they’re actually funny. It’s not easy enforcing class rules when you’re laughing.
What if we looked at class clowns differently? What if, instead of seeing them as a nuisance, we saw them as gifted? A little misguided, sure, but still gifted.
It’s instructive to look at the situation from the student’s perspective. The truth is, when they make a silly comment, their intention isn’t to humiliate you. How you feel about it emotionally isn’t even on their radar. They just want to crack up their classmates. That’s it.
But when a student steps outside those boundaries to deliver an ill-timed one-liner, it can have the opposite effect. It can pull the entire class off task. It can cause silliness and excitability. It can encourage others to do the same.
“The biggest issue is a sense of self,” says Dr. Rama Pemmaraju Rao, a former assistant clinical professor of child, adolescent, and adult psychiatric medicine at the University of Alabama Medical School who is now in private and public practice in Asheville, North Carolina. “Kids are always evaluating themselves through others’ eyes, looking for positive feedback, and if they don’t get it, they compensate. If they have a talent for humor, that’s when they appoint themselves the entertainment committee.”