The 10 funniest things that happened in education this year

In recent years, too many comedians to count have tried to cash in on school-related antics, but none of their efforts are a patch on the reality. So here we give you, in no particular order, 10 hilarious highlights from the world of education in 2013.

1 Educating Yorkshire

“Like my eyebrows?” says Bailey, one of the student stars of fly-on-the-wall television series Educating Yorkshire. She pauses for effect, looking at her classmates. “Shaved them off. Shaved all my eyebrows off.”

Bailey captured the hearts of British viewers when she appeared in the show’s trailer. And this was also the first time we saw Jonny Mitchell, headteacher of Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. 

Many adoring words have been written about Mitchell and his staff. And, proving that nowt impresses like trying your damnedest to get kids through their exams, the show is returning for a Christmas special on Channel 4.

 Bailey from Educating Yorkshire

2 Harlem Shake

Assembly. Rows of students sit quietly in neat red jumpers, seemingly oblivious to one girl, who stands in the aisle, flapping around in a wetsuit, flippers and snorkel. Then, suddenly, everyone joins in with the energetic dancing. They are dressed in skin-tight morphsuits and animal-print onesies or encased in sleeping bags, with props ranging from traffic cones to an inflatable horse’s head. Welcome to the Harlem Shake, one of the fastest viral crazes ever recorded on YouTube – and not just among teenagers.

Harlem Shake by DJ Baauer was first uploaded to YouTube on 23 August 2012, according to the Know Your Meme website. But it was a silly dance to the tune by video blogger Filthy Frank on 30 January this year that kickstarted a craze. 








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 3 Overheard in the classroom

The Overheard column runs in TES each week, offering slices of classroom life. Here are some of our favourites from this year.

A retirement message from a student “Sorry you’re living, but have a nice time.”

During a safety talk from local firemen
Student: “Are any of you single? Miss quite likes firemen.”

A child reads a science revision guide
Student (loudly): “I don’t believe this! It says silk comes out of a woman’s bottom.” (Cue uproar.)
Student (more quietly): “Oh…a worm’s bottom.”

4 Name the shapes

In October, Twitter user @Pandamoanimum tweeted her favourite example of a child taking something literally. The message was retweeted 2,276 times, with many commenting on the brilliance of the name Tedison.


5 The teacher who wore the same shirt for 40 years

When Dale Irby, 64, retired from teaching at Prestonwood Elementary School in Dallas, US, this summer, he marked the end of a long career by revealing a joke that he had kept running throughout his 40 years of teaching. It was a quiet joke, but a brilliant one. 

Irby had worn the same outfit for his first and second official school photos in 1973 and 1974, by accident. His wife Cathy suggested a third year, then it became 10 years and eventually, Irby says, he thought: “Why stop? I thought 10 years would be enough – little holes started to creep into the vest – but there was no reason to stop.”

6 The fried chicken love letter

Young love in all its beauty – and pragmatism – was revealed by a written exchange that swept the internet in January.

The note was posted to Reddit with the caption “My friend found this on the floor of her 8th grade classroom”. It quickly went viral. Comments included: “As an 8th grade teacher, I find this to be 100 per cent accurate.”

7 #Maths and #science jokes

To prove that maths and science are hilarious, we carried out a Twitter-based research project. Here are the results.

#mathsjokes from @tes followers:

Talking sheepdog gets all the sheep in the pen for his farmer. He comes back and says, “All 40 accounted for.” Farmer says, “I’ve only got 36.” Sheepdog replies, “I know, but I rounded them up.”

Hired an odd-job man to do 8 jobs. When
I got back, he’d only done jobs 1, 3, 5 and 7.


A photon checks in to a hotel. The receptionist asks if he has any luggage to take up. He replies, “No, I’m travelling light.”

Wonder if @tes heard about the scientist who was frozen to absolute zero? He’s 0K now.

8 The real thing?

One difficulty with the internet is assessing how truthful information and images are. Julie Ann Culp, a US school counsellor, posted a picture on Facebook. In it she held up a note that read: “I’m talking to my 5th grade students about internet safety and how quickly a photo can be seen by lots of people. If you are reading this, please click ‘like’. Thanks!”

The internet obliged, with Culp’s picture being Photoshopped to make her look like a pirate holding a map and Beyoncé, among others. She certainly got her point across and the photo has now been “liked” by more than 4.2 million people.

9 Thank you for believing in us, Mr Boddie

Immense organisation went into this practical joke: the funniest flash mob of the year and the most touching.

Roger Boddie, principal of Hingham Middle School in Massachusetts, US, who retired this summer, was surprised by his students, who delivered a coordinated dance routine to the Journey song Don’t Stop Believin’

His response? “Well, when people ask me what I’m going to miss”, he says, “I think I know what it is. I always knew I was going to miss the kids.”

Mr Boddie. A teacher. An inspiration. And now a rock star. 








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10 Ninja flapjacks. Or, as The Sun put it, ‘Flapjack whack rap claptrap’

Once an unassuming oat-based bake, the flapjack took off – quite literally – in the world of education when a school in the South East of England banned triangular versions after an “isolated accident”.

The decision by Castle View School in Essex prompted a pun-tastic response from the Health and Safety Executive’s press office, which told the BBC: “We often come across half-baked decisions taken in the name of health and safety but this one takes the biscuit.”

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