You are here

Teaching Class Clowns (And What They Can Teach Us)

Teaching Class Clowns (And What They Can Teach Us)

Foreword by Sally Butzin

May 2006 | 152 pages | Corwin
Every teacher knows who the class clown(s) are, as does every assistant principal, guidance counselor, and administrator in the school building. Reaching and teaching class clowns, however, requires instructional strategies rarely, if ever, taught in college or in-service workshops.

Until now! Author William Watson Purkey offers readers this lively, informative, and concise guide to teaching class clowns. Whether teaching elementary, middle school, or high school grades, every teacher will find something of value here to help these gifted but at-risk learners find the right way to succeed in school and in life.

Foreword by Sally Butzin
About the Author
1. Appreciating Class Clowns

The Case for Class Clowns

Having Fun as a Teaching Strategy

Breeding Ground for Professional Comedians

Who Is a Class Clown?

The Value of Cheerfulness


2. Understanding Class Clowns.
Humor Brain Drain

Friendly Clowns and Hostile Clowns

Friendly Clowns

Hostile Clowns

Class Clown Relationships

The Art of Clowning

Tribulations of Class Clowns

Signature Tendencies of Class Clowns


3. Investing
The Value of Investing

How to Teach Class Clowns Through Investing

Share Responsibilities

Form Triads

Spotlight Talent

Modify the Grading System

Encourage Special Interest Groups

What Class Clowns Can Teach Us About Investing

Any Attempt Is a Victory

If it’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Poorly

Be a Rubber Ball


4. Asserting
The Value of Asserting

How to Teach Class Clowns Through Asserting

Be Positive With Directives

Use No-Cut Contracts

Promote Civility

Involve Clowns in Decisions

What Class Clowns Can Teach Us About Asserting

Keep a Sense of Humor

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Challenge Authority

Promote Democratic Values


5. Relating
The Value of Relating

How to Teach Class Clowns Through Relating

Use Inclusive Pronouns

Brighten the Classroom

Build Class Spirit

Conduct Field Studies

Play That Funky Music

What Class Clowns Can Teach Us About Relating

Savor Every Moment

Enjoy Life

Fight Fair


6. Coping
The Value of Coping

How to Teach Class Clowns Through Coping

Keep the Volcano From Erupting

Listen to the Ice

Follow the Six C’s

What Class Clowns Can Teach Us About Coping

Capitalize on Bad Moments

Count on Serendipity

Find Humor in Frustrations

Be Suspicious of Hearsay


A Final Encore


"The book made me look at the class clown in a positive light rather than a negative disruptive individual.  It gave me many ideas on how to channel the energy of a class clown in a positive direction."

Leile Poppleton
Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, Twin Falls High School, ID

"It is not difficult to read, and in places is laugh-out-loud funny.  I related several of the more humorous passages to my wife, and we both laughed heartily.  I would recommend this book to my colleagues because we have all had students like these in class, and they can be most disruptive if they want to.  Having some strategies to use with these special students will be most helpful."

Aaron Faletto, Music Teacher/Band Director
Newport Heights Elementary, Bellevue, WA

"First of all I was immediately able to see myself, and some of my antics, as a child, student, adult, police officer, and now a teacher!  It was nice to finally be able to "come-out-of-the-closet" (so to speak) and truly be who I am!  Second, I was able to apply a great deal of what was spoken of in helping my current Clown!  He has responded marvelously!  Third, this manuscript allowed me to look back at the errors I have made in working with students who identify with the Class Clown persona, and (hopefully) not repeat them."

Mark Sadler, 5th Grade Teacher
Oliver J. Kendall Elementary, Naperville, IL

"There are many good and concrete suggestions for practitioners. The author not only identifies the complex issues at stake but goes on to make appropriate suggestions for dealing with class clowns. Teachers will be energized."

Frank Parajes, Professor
Division of Educational Studies, Emory University

"Purkey provides teachers a rare glimpse into the children behind the clowning student and describes “nuts and bolts” means to engage such students into the learning environment."

Gerald A. Juhnke, Professor
University of Texas at San Antonio

"This is an uplifting, refreshing, informative, amusing and generally life-enhancing book that addresses a reality most teachers define as a problem – the presence of class clowns in school rooms...offers practical suggestions for working with challenging individuals more productively – for both teachers’ and students’ sakes... articulates a perspective that resonates with the disheartening experiences of many teachers, yet inspires them to go beyond the status quo to bring greater significance, meaning and humanity to their work as professional educators."

Anne Richards, Professor Emerita
University of West Georgia

"The book addresses an important area of education that has been neglected for too long of a time.   Not only is the book informative and addresses an important educational area, the author writes in a style that is ‘easy reading’ and quite humorous.  The authors style of writing actively engages and ‘invites’ the reader to think about his or her own past school experiences so as to become better teachers or administrators."

Ken Smith, Counseling and Educational Psychologist
Trescowthick School of Education, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia

"In this delightfully written book, Dr. Purkey has captured the essence of those 'characters' whom all of us can relate with, having sat next to in school, been one ourselves (class clown) or endured the challenges of teaching these scamps. I have gained a more compassionate insight into multifaceted qualities of all those I teach."

Daniel E. Shaw, Associate Professor, Behavioral Medicine
Nova Southeastern University

"Dr. Purkey has gifted a joyous affirmation to all whose philosophy for effective living is anchored in the belief: 'A day without laughter is a day without sunshine.' "

Zacharie J. Clements, President
Inner Management Inc.

"Finally, the true significance of the 'class clown' has been professionally identified and analyzed as a functional teaching source. . . [and] presented as a challenging opportunity for the teacher to capitalize on this all-too-often over-looked student."

Donald W. Russell, Professor Emeritus and Acting Dean
School of Education, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1


For instructors

Please contact your Academic Consultant to check inspection copy availability for your course.

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781412937252