Using Sarcasm

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms. I, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I know! They say that it's not good to use sarcasm w/ students, but how many of you actually do it, even just a tad? If used subtly & rarely, it can be effective.

    For example, as we know, the older the kid, the more they should be capable of following the rules & knowing proper classroom behavior. At times, I may say that the way they are behaving right now is what preschoolers or kinders do & they aren't a baby or preschooler anymore, they need to (fill in the blank: stop running down the hall, falling to the floor, etc.)

    If you use sarcasm, how do you use it effectively?
     
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  3. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    I plan to get a T-Shirt printed with..."No! You cannot go to your locker!!"
    and
    "Are you bleeding? Then don't interrupt me!!"

    Two days ago, a student was so preoccupied with snooping over my shoulder while Itook attendance that I became frustrated and put the paper down and said "Oh! You're so interested in what I'm doing! Here, you finish it!!" Do you know that the student picked up my pen and started finishing the attendance?
    Sarcasm doesn't work too well with literal children!!! ARGHHHH!!!
     
  4. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    My point is that I don't use it effectively at all! I doubt if one can...?
     
  5. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I am a very sarcastic person, and I often have to bite my tongue. I do use it at times, but I try to keep it to a minimum. My parents are crazy enough as it is, I don't want to give them another reason to go psycho because their kid can't tell that I am joking!
    I typically use sarcasm the most when they ask a dumb question. Today, I got a question that was so awful, I told her that I was going to pretend I didn't hear that and she needed to go sit down, because I will not acknowledge that question! There wasn't even a sarcastic remark, because it was that dumb of a question. I had these state activity cards that they were going that had a lot of geography questions on them. The state was in a color and everything around it was white. This student was on her THIRD card and came and asked me how she was supposed to answer the questions, because Maryland wasn't shown in the picture (her card was actually about Maryland). Maryland was shown in bright ORANGE! She has no clue.... I typically agree with the "there is no such thing as a dumb question" theory, but every once in a while, you do get a truly dumb one....
     
  6. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I know some people grow up in sarastic families and they say they don't get offended, however I have seen a lot of women who many years later were still hurting about teasing and saracasm they experienced in their families. Some people are very sensitive and suffer in silence. I feel teachers should try to avoid sarcasm, especially with young children who just do not get it.
     
  7. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I'll occassionally have students who are very good with the use of sarcasm, and we can exchange a few comments. I have one "clinger" who is always RIGHT THERE when I turn around. He's exceptionally bright and has a wickedly dry sense of humor. Normally he sits in my chair and reads the newspaper during free reading. I usually read, too, but I was busy with grades yesterday . . . and I didn't need him in my chair. After several attempts at shooing him away, I finally asked him if I could manage to get a mere 5 minutes without him under my arm. He said that was no problem, and then set my timer for 5 minutes . . . so he wouldn't forget to come back. LOL Most often I'll use sarcastic comments aimed at myself when I do something out of sorts. For instance, one day this week as students were checking an activity on the board, I spelled one of the answers incorrectly. It wasn't even a particularly difficult word . . . just a "moment" for me, I suppose. As I erased the incorrect spelling, I said, "You'd think I might have picked up a thing or two in the last 15 years."

    Some people use sarcasm better than others, and some people understand it better than others. You've got to know who you're dealing with. My husband does NOT get sarcasm . . . at all. He doesn't use it, and he doesn't take it well when it's aimed at him. I rather enjoy it.
     
  8. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I'm sarcastic every single day. That's just me. It's fine. It's fun. It will be okay.
     
  9. KinderCowgirl

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    I think it's important for kids to know in our language people don't always mean what they are literally saying. That's a very hard lesson for the young kids. I am also a very sarcastic person and I consciously do not curb that in the classroom. I explain what the word means and they learn to identify it.

    Last year I said something and one of my students said, "Miss Smith, I know you don't really mean that, you really mean the opposite, you're just being psychotic." Psychotic - sarcastic - close right?

    I'm sorry was that sarcastic?
     
  10. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I had a very sarcastic 4th grade teacher, and I still remember him making remarks toward kids who didn't get their work done, and all kinds of things. It was embaressing for me to even listen. He was so mean.

    Once we had an assignment to measure different things with a tape measurer, and I used the centimeter side instead of inches. When he looked at my measurement for my waist in centimeters (but I didn't know) he said, "I didn't realize you were so fat!" This was VERY damaging to me, and I will never forget how that made feel. Not only that, but that was all he said. He did not say that I measured wrong. My mom explained it to me ONLY when my paper came back marked up. He never said a word about my using centimeters instead. My mom went back and we remeasured things like the table leg, etc.

    It still did not undue how that made me feel. Before then, I don't think I had a concept of fat or thin in terms of my own body, but after that, I was very aware, and went a couple of years in HS barely eating at all -salad, water, candy (fat free candy) and chicken was about all I would eat, and only after 12... and before 6. I now realize I had some anorexia type behavior going on, except that I was never underweight. Still have issues in this dept. today.
     
  11. myangel52

    myangel52 Comrade

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    Oct 26, 2007

    I use sarcasm, but never directed at a student in a mean way -- I am not sure exactly how to explain it. But I make sure to NEVER use it with students to offend, embarrass, or if they are too young to understand.

    For example, last year, one student asked the burning question "How long is our test", as I am standing at the front, holding the stack of tests in one hand getting ready to pass them out to the class (26 students). I immediately answered "82 pages" (outrageous number that would be clearly incorrect)(which I had done a few times before), and gave a big smile. And they just looked at me for a split second, shocked, and then all of them started laughing. They could see that I was playing with them -- I mean, I was holding all the tests in one hand, curled up, in fact. But it made them smile. I use it in those kinds of ways, not to demean them. Maybe it's not sarcasm -- maybe just humor? I don't know. I have always thought of it as sarcasm.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think the trick is to never use it towards a child you're annoyed at. If it's used on a child who has just done something praise-worthy, it's obvious that you're joking, and the context is obvious.

    Also, act as though the child's parent is in the room... you can pretty much assume that any sarcastic remark is going to be repeated later that night.

    Most of the time when I'm sarcastic, I'm the focus of the joke, not the kids. And when it is directed towards a kid, it can diffuse a problem. For example, I have a class that is still kind of chatty (although it's slowly coming around.) One day I had a few of them come in after school. I assured them that I would "break their kneecaps" (since that's all I can reach-- some of these kids are tall) if they didn't cut it out. They laughed and assured me that they would be good.
     
  13. k1m

    k1m Rookie

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    I am sarcastic but I very rarely direct it at a child in anger or annoyance....occasionally when that one unbearable, unmanageable child pushes me just too far it slips out.

    I like to keep my classroom light-hearted and fun. The kids respond very well to this and quickly learn how far they can go without crossing the line. Sarcasm is a large part of this...the main reason is that my class is all from non-English speaking backgrounds and they are just at the age where they are starting to be able to detect sarcasm. They actually feel very proud of themselves when they can say "Miss you don't really mean that do you, you're being sarcastic again!"
     
  14. Tbelle1035

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    I think you hit the nail right on the head. There is a difference between sarcasm and humor. If the comment is meant to lighten up the moment and not demeaning to anyone's sensitivities, then it is humor. Sarcasm should never be used on a personal level.
     
  15. GrandHighWitch

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    I use it occasionally, not to put down anyone, but just as humor, and only with the kids who I think will "get it." I teach 4th grade, so it varies. Some kids still take everything literally, and some understand sarcasm and use it themselves, so I can joke around with them that way.
     
  16. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    It is impossible to teach middle school without sarcasm. I use it pretty much everyday. If a student asks a dumb question (and I believe that there are tons of dumb questions), like "What is the date today?" or "What time do we get out of this class?", or "Do we have to copy the notes on the overhead?" I use sarcasm in all of these incidents. Usually, the kids laugh, and we are sarcastic to eachother, but sometimes, it is directed toward a kid who asks a dumb question.
     
  17. katerina03

    katerina03 Devotee

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    Me too! I try not be, but it's me. I try to except my students the same way.
     
  18. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I agree that you just can't direct it at a specific kid, but using it in general is ok, I guess. I agree with another poster who said kids hav eto learn not to take everything that is said literally. In fact, probably more than half of what we said is figurative or idiomatic. And how many people do we know that make comments dripping in sarcasm every day? I am not saying we should make hurtful sarcastic remarks so that they can get ready for the real world, but I am saying I think it is ridiculous to ask teachers to cut out a whole part of language from their speech, especially when they are teaching students to interact with others.
     
  19. meatball77

    meatball77 Comrade

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    I agree with myangel. You have to be very obvious about it.

    I had a seventh grader raise his hand and tell me that his arm hurt a couple weeks ago. So I asked him if he'd like me to order him a masseuse. (it did end up with a lengthy discussion defining the word) He got the joke though.
     
  20. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I also use sarcasm almost daily. Student teaching in the third grade has defnitely been a revelation about students and their behaviors/intellects/attitudes/abilities. Just last Thursday, when I was about to hand out a regularly scheduled test, one of my "troublemakers" groaned loudly and began to whine about "another test." I stopped, put the tests down on the overhead projector, put both hands in my pants pockets, rounded my shoulders and said, "You poor things! I am so mean to you! Imagine, I make you actually think! and work! and learn! How could I possibly be so mean? My, my. We have to come up with a way to fix this!" By that time, the entire class was giggling, and the groaning was over. I agree though, that one must be careful who the sarcasm is directed at and what we are being sarcastic about.
     
  21. Christine3

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    I dislike sarcasm in the classroom. Often, little ones are confused and it goes straight over their heads. Why on earth would someone want to say the opposite of what they feel?
     
  22. maroki

    maroki Comrade

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    This is why I don't use sarcasm in my classroom. My students usually don't understand it. I even have to watch myself using phrases that don't mean what they sound like.

    For example, once I said during a fire drill to my line leader "pick it up!" He stopped the line and started searching the ground...

    And a couple weeks ago a boy was slow finishing his work and I told him "wrap it up" only to come back 2 minutes later to find him folding his paper all sorts of interesting ways. He asked me, with a very confused voice, "How do I wrap this up?" :lol:

    Instead of sarcasm I find myself using extreme humor that really gets the kids going. They love it.

    "How much longer until we go home?"
    "About 100 hours."

    And then I give them a huge smile so they know I am joking. :)
     
  23. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I think it depends on how you define sarcasm. I would never say anything insulting to the children. When one of the kids brings their paper over and says "I wrote my name" (the first of several steps I asked them to do) I say "I'll call the newspapers" - no, they don't understand it the first time I use it, but I explain it and they get the humor.

    One of the posters said "why would you say the opposite of what you mean." I actually think it is asking them use critical thinking skills - how many authors use sarcasm in their writing - I mean look at Mark Twain or Dorothy Parker. They are going to have to read and interpret those authors one day.
     
  24. Jarenko

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    I am a sarcastic person. :unsure:
     
  25. Christine3

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    I do agree with you on that. In my opinion a person that uses sarcasm is actually weak, they can't come out and say the truth. It is not something I would use in an elementary classroom. High school maybe b/c it is found in their literature.
     
  26. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I think the difference depends on what your intent is.... sarcasm can be a teaching tool.... interpreting, etc... idioms, etc...
    sarcasm used to degrade or humiliate is another story and should never be used in the classroom.

    There is a huge difference and I think teachers who use sarcasm know who to use it with. A sense of humor is a good thing. Sometimes you just have to lighten up.
     
  27. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Voted most sarcastic in the teachers superlatives (most organized too!) Honestly, I don't worry about it. I am myself in the classroom (yes I use less than perfect words), I am very blunt and sarcastic.
     
  28. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Me too :) We could be twins. My kids totally get me by now, and know when I am being serious.
     
  29. E Bunni 99

    E Bunni 99 Rookie

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    I use sarcasm with some of the boys I teach everyday. I am a very sarcastic person though... so it comes to me easily. I do teach 7th grade though too where the kids start to appreciate it. I figure out which kids can handle it and use it more on them. I will say more boys get joked with compared to girls.
     

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