“Some enlightened doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for helping all of us to get through this seemingly never-ending pandemic: Try a little laughter.” R. Schiffman, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis, said Dr. Michael Miller, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. It’s a winning strategy to stay healthy in the face of it…‘Having a good sense of humor is an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety and bring back a sense of normalcy during theseturbulent times.’
Perhaps most relevant today, possessing a sense of humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances, said George Bonanno, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University.
‘Charlie Chaplin once said ‘In order to truly laugh you need to be able to take your pain and play with it,’ said Paul Osincup, the president of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Write down all of the most difficult and annoying things about quarantine,’Mr. Osincup recommends. Play with those. See if you can find any humor in your situation.
Megan Werner, a psychotherapist in private practice, uses a similar strategy in her work with at-risk youth in Fayetteville, Ark. During group therapy sessions, she has the teenage gang members she works with interact with ‘Irwin,’ a life-size Halloween skeleton, to encourage them to confront their dangerous lifestyle head-on.
‘Most of the time you try to deflate a painful situation,’ she said. ‘In my therapy work, it’s more like ‘let’s blow it up, let’s make it so absurd that we laugh about it.’
Mary Laskin, a nurse case-manager at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, has been working with her chronic pain patients online, teaching them laughter exercises alongside practices designed to develop other positive mental states like gratitude and forgiveness. ‘This pandemic is like a tiger creeping toward us, a huge slow-motion stressor that makes the experience of pain worse. Humor helps my patients relax and release their grip on pain,’ she said…She recommends ‘laughter first-aid boxes,’ where they can stash joke books, funny toys and other props for this purpose.
Humor can also serve to powerfully reaffirm one’s humanity in the face of illness or disability, said Dr. B.J. Miller, a palliative care physician in San Francisco who suffered a freak electrical accident in 1990 that cost him two legs and an arm.
After the accident, he said, most people — including medical staff members — viewed him as an object of pity. ‘There is a solemnity in how people look at you,’ he said. “You are essentially walled off from others.
The one exception, he recalled, were the men who scrubbed off his burned skin in the hospital. ‘It’s a terrible job, I mean you are inflicting reams of pain on someone to save their life,’ Dr. Miller said. ‘But this ragtag crew, they were freaking hilarious. One of them had a flask and was drinking during the procedure, they were cracking jokes the whole time.’ ‘It made me stronger because they were looking at me and saying this guy can handle the pain and he can also handle a joke — it made me feel like a human being again.’ Inspired by their example, Dr. Miller said, he uses every opportunity to bring a dose of comic relief into his own medical work. Increasingly, he sees his colleagues doing so as well.”
CNN Poll: Biden Wins Final Presidential Debate!
“Joe Biden did a better job in the final debate on Thursday, according to a CNN Instant Poll of debate watchers. Overall, 53% of voters who watched the debate said that Biden won the matchup…”CNN
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article. Examine any photos, then create a list of words and ideas that you and your group members think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Some enlightened doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for helping us to get through this pandemic.
- Having a sense of humor is the key to helping us.
- Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis.
- Heightened stress magnifies the risk of cardiovascular events.
- Having a good sense of humor helps during these turbulent times.
- Humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.
- Most of the time you try to deflate a painful situation.
- Many health experts encourage people to actively cultivate the healing power of laughter.
- Humor can also serve to powerfully reaffirm one’s humanity in the face of illness.
- We must try to maintain our humanity during these challenging times.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Having a good sense of humor are an excellent way to relieve stress.
- Doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for patients.
- Possessing a healthy sense of humor is also a stress reliever.
- Heightened stress magnifies the risk of cardiovascular events.
- Dr. Miller prescribes one good belly laughs a day for his patients.
- Ms. Laskin suggests that her patients treat humor as a discipline.
- Some kinds of joking is potentially destructive.
- Some hospitals have initiated formal humor programs.
- Some caregivers are also innovating ways to bring humor into their own practice.
Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis, said It’s a winning strategy to stay healthy in the face of it.”
- “…laughter has also been shown to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and increases the body’s uptake of the feel-good endorphins.”
- “There also appear to be cognitive benefits from watching a funny video.”
- “Perhaps most relevant today, possessing a sense of humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.”
- “Write down all of the most difficult and annoying things about quarantine…See if you can find any humor in your situation.”
- “During group therapy sessions, she has the teenage gang members she works with interact with “Irwin,” a life-size Halloween skeleton, to encourage them to confront their dangerous lifestyle head-on.”
- “This pandemic is like a tiger creeping toward us, a huge slow-motion stressor that makes the experience of pain worse. Humor helps my patients relax and release their grip on pain.”
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- There is an old saying that states, “Laughter is the best medicine”. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- During these difficult times do you feel like laughing? Why or why not?
- According to DR. Michael Miller what does laughter and a good sense of humor do for us in general?
- What does Dr. Miller recommend we do at least once a day?
- According to Dr. Singh, why should we watch funny videos?
- Why is ‘possessing a sense of humor’ helpful in the face of adverse circumstances?
- What is the famous quote by Charlie Chaplin? Do you agree or disagree with this advice? Please explain provide reasons for your answers.
- What does Paul Osincup recommend we do with all the annoying things about the quarantine? In your opinion is this a good idea? Explain why or why not.
- Ms. Laskin states, “Our health care system focuses on passive ways to manage pain like taking a pill or getting an operation…I encourage people to actively cultivate the healing power of laughter, which puts them back in the driver’s seat.” In your own words explain what she means.
- Why is it unusual for Dr. B. J. Miller to have a sense of humor? If you were in his position do you think you could maintain a sense of humor? Explain why or why?
- What new information have you learned from this article?
Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.
Create a Laughter First-Aid Box
In the article Mary Laskin, a nurse case manager, said she recommended “laughter first-aid boxes” for her patients, where they can stash joke books, funny toys and other props for this purpose. Make a list of all the items you would place in your personal “Laughter First-Aid Box” or create a physical box . Share your items with someone in your group.