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Is Sarcasm Ever Appropriate When Teaching?

Learn if it is ever appropriate for a teacher to use sarcasm from education consultant Grace Dearborn in this Howcast video.


Is sarcasm ever okay in the classroom? I'm going to go with no; it's not okay in the classroom. I know a lot of us communicate with sarcasm and we think it's witty or it's funny or it's creating rapport with the students, but the truth is sarcasm always has within it a bite, it's always meant to inflict a little bit of uh at that person that it's directed at. We never know how that bite is going to land on the student who is the recipient of the sarcastic remark and when I started teaching a used a lot of sarcasm in the classroom, I was a relatively sarcastic person, and I relied on it for humor. When I was teaching high school I thought it was okay, my kids could handle it, but eventually I said just the wrong thing to just the wrong person at just the wrong time, and that student was so deeply offended that he cut my class for a week afterwards.

We never know how it's landing with a student, so it's always better to error on the side of what it's best for students, and what is best for students is genuine communication with them from the heart and not from a place of sarcasm. That doesn't mean that we can’t be having fun with our students or being witty, but there's a difference between wit and sarcasm. Wit doesn't necessarily intend to harm, whereas sarcasm always has that intention behind it on some level even if it's not malicious on some level. So, to be safe I would say no sarcasm in the classroom.

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