How to Be a Court Jester in a World Full of Kings

t600-court-jester-kayeThe Court Jester, often thought of only as the silly witted man, is actually the smartest guy in the room because he sits at the foot of the all-powerful monarch but is never subject to the guillotine. By observing, he learns to placate, shroud honesty in humor, and, most of all, he learns to survive.

We can all learn a thing or two from this “lowly” figure, especially for anyone who works with or has kids who struggle with social skills. Conventional schooling often dismisses the importance of learning how to maneuver through social situations in favor of academics and conformity. For those of us who have already passed the test of formal education, we know that it will actually be those social skills which will take us further in life than all of the A’s we have ever received. The kids who learn early on how to placate and shroud honesty in humor are the ones who learn to survive the corridors of the corporate world.

Shawn Achor, Positive Psychology Researcher and Harvard Professor who taught “The Happiness Course”, explains that 75% of success is based on how we process the world and 25% of success is based on our intellect. How we perceive our situation through a lens of our choosing dictates our choice to be happy. Interestingly, those in relationship based cultures with Attachment-Based Learning as the foundation of their education, tend to be happier because they view their benchmark of happiness against their social community. Much along the same lines, I find that for kids who are struggling in school things can turn around rather quickly when they find their social group– when they are accepted. Peer support seems to be the antidote to loneliness, isolation, and depression, which if left unattended can lead to real harm of self and of others.

However, in our American educational system we struggle with placing value on the important life lessons that social skills teach us because we are not a relationship based culture. For example, it’s a negative thing to call a kid a class clown. Really, when we break it down, a class clown is just a student who is longing to be accepted and who will use all the cards in their back pocket to find a friend.  That’s why comedians are actually observationalists by trade. They are the Court Jesters of our time. They possess the unique ability to read people and this saves them from the guillotine of social isolation.

So when your kid is struggling in school, perhaps it’s not the academics that should be the first thing we fix. Instead, let’s look socially–let’s look at what kinds of friends or lack of friends your child has at school. Because it only takes one friend to change a person’s perception of themselves and their surroundings and costs nothing but time. Most importantly, it will teach them about navigating this world where mastering social skills rule in the King’s Court.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student, combining Academic Support, Behavior Support, and Education Advocacy to bridge the gap between home and school in order to serve the whole student. Want to Know More? Head on over to