Making Boring Content Fascinating

May 29, 2018 | Posted by Nick


Even after debating in high school for five years and attending college for over two years, the thought of sitting through a lecture still bores me. Although I know how to effectively take notes, it’s still hard for me to give my full and undivided attention to a lecturer whose speaking style is boring.

When I first met Nathan King, IEW’s project manager, I mentioned to him that I was enrolled in a geology class for my upcoming sophomore year. He shared some of his experiences on the subject, describing how fascinating it is for him to see the application geology has in the real world. He suggested that I plunge myself directly into the material and make it matter to me. His advice worked, too. By taking a sincere interest in the subject, I found I even enjoyed the three-hour labs. There was always something to learn that engaged me. I especially enjoyed identifying different types of rocks. Since then, I have done my best to attend every class with the intention of gaining some value for real-life application.

Listening for ways to apply knowledge to real-life situations is one way that I engage in a lecture; unfortunately, dry lecturers are still challenging for me to listen to. Happily, I next enrolled in a communications class. That’s when the other piece of the puzzle fell into place for me. Dr. John Banas, my professor, immediately grabbed the entire lecture hall’s attention as he cracked a joke. From that moment on, there was rarely ever a dull moment in his classroom.

I found myself getting excited before my Wednesday afternoon class with Dr. Banas. The class felt meaningful: the tuition, the time, the ten-minute walk to class—all of it. Finally, here was a lecturer I could enjoy! Even his exams had little jokes that made me smile and, in some cases, suppress my laughter. Most importantly, I learned from him.

Teachers who engage their class and attempt to put a smile on their students’ faces are the teachers who I remember and appreciate the most. I can still remember Andrew Pudewa telling me the hairspray or “Unintended Consequences” joke in one of his writing classes. Moments like these are ones I remember and even cherish.

Being an educator has become more and more difficult since the rapid rise in the use of technology. There is an ever-persistent competition for someone’s attention. Even while I’m in the midst of delivering a class presentation, I am aware that everyone in the room could find something more entertaining to watch on their phones. And teachers compete with these influences every day.

Very few educators truly understand the importance of using humor to engage students. Thankfully, Mr. Pudewa is one of those educators. On a recent podcast, he talked about the general benefits of humor and discussed the eleven things that make something funny. Not everyone is a comedian, but everyone has a sense humor. If you want to reach your students, then I encourage you to use a bit of humor. Maybe even recycle a few of Mr. Pudewa’s jokes. Take it from a student: humor makes even the most boring content fascinating.


Nick Buscemi has been associated with IEW since childhood when his father began working for the company. This has given him extensive experience with IEW's methods of speaking and writing, having taken many years of classes from Andrew Pudewa. Enjoying communicative interaction, Nick is majoring in Public Relations at the University of Oklahoma.

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