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Humor in the classroom

By Anna Riggenbach, ’08

He’s probably too corny. His jokes are almost hilarious. But he has been doing this his whole life. Marty Drexler, ’97, has used his jokes in his teaching and has now set his sights on publishing a joke book titled, Almost Joke Book.

Drexler graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. He is now finishing up his tenth year of full-time teaching at Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio.

As a young teacher, Drexler learned immediately that a lot of students lack motivation, and teachers have to constantly sell why school is important.

“You’re always going back to the big picture,” he says. “You can be the smartest teacher in the world, but you have to bring the material to life and make that connection.”

He began trying different tactics to keep his students’ attention during class. He started with a ‘Joke of the Day’ to help them look forward to going to his class. ‘They actually make edible books now,’ Drexler jokes. ‘Well, I ate one the other day and it took me awhile to digest all of the information.’

“You really have to be interesting to get their attention,” he says. “People aren’t going to learn if it is boring or dry.”

When Drexler was a student, he was a self-professed class clown. When going from being a student to being a teacher, he also had to transition from being the class clown to teaching class clowns.

“You look at education from almost a different perspective,” Drexler says. “I see other class clowns come in before getting in that door and I think, ‘I was you 15 years ago.’ It allows me to take some potentially disruptive students and let them know I’m on top of their gig.”

Beginning as a Kent State education major allowed Drexler to prepare for teaching in the real world.

“They prepare you well in college," he says. “The rest is from experience. I was so ready to be in the classroom teaching. I was anxious to just get in there and get some experience. Kent got me to that point.”

Drexler has translated his degree into success. He was mentioned in “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” twice.

“Life’s too short. You have to make the most when you can,” he says. “My whole life I’ve been the class clown, always the one in the principal’s office cracking too many jokes.”

The idea for Drexler’s book and his joke-telling in the classroom really came together at the same time, and one didn’t influence the other. He just woke up one day and decided to try his hand at publishing his jokes.

Starting with school experiences and branching off from there is how Drexler came up with his joke ideas. He also spent one summer reading the dictionary looking for words with double meanings. Every joke in his book is original. Drexler’s book is now in the final stage of getting published, and his approximate release date is early 2009.

“I’ve always loved trying to find humor in things,” he says. “I’m hoping that I’m making a difference.”

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