Guest Article: Please Don’t Use Sarcasm With My Students, by (e

July 5th Update: Footnote added on the interrelated subjects of bluffing, “tuning out” and late afternoon exhaustion.

We at The Hearing Blog do not pretend to have a corner on the market when it comes to Hearing & Deafness issues; so when a particularly good article comes along, we request of the author permission to reprint it in its’ entirety, as we did with Lost in Music Trivia.

Today, it is our pleasure to present Please Don’t Use Sarcasm With My Students, written by my friend (e

Please Don’t Use Sarcasm With My Students

I wish some teachers and school staff members would stop using negative sarcasm with some of my deaf and hard of hearing students. Sarcasm can sometimes be confusing. Some of my students are not sure how to respond because they may not know if the person is being serious or not. It can be hard for deaf and hard of hearing people to hear the slight difference between a sarcastic tone and a serious one. Many rely on facial expression and if the person says something harsh but is smiling, we may assume that he or she is being sarcastic. But, not everyone express sarcasm or seriousness in the same ways. It can be hard to tell if the person is being sarcastic especially if you are unable to hear the tone of their voice. 

I think that when sarcasm is being used with some students, it would be helpful for the person to explain to the students that they are being sarcastic. People should be careful with how they use sarcasm with students. Lighthearted sarcasm is fine, if used in moderation, but negative sarcasm or sarcasm used to put down the student is not all right, in my opinion.

Negative sarcasm can be hurtful and embarrassing. For example, if I were to state the obvious, I think it would be rude if someone I work with were to sarcastically tell me, “Really, Einstein?”

I remember as a child I thought one of my teachers was being sarcastic and I laughed thinking she was only joking. She got angry and acted as if I insulted her, because it turned out she was not being sarcastic. That was a very uncomfortable situation.


Footnote: While we’re on the subject of trying to help our normally-hearing friends understand what it’s like to be hearing impaired, our friend e) has written another superb article titled Eh? What? Huh? What’s That? Come Again? Wait–What? that also merits reading, along with this authors’ comment and e)s’ reply.


← Less-than-honest NBC Today segment on hearing loss Smashing Success: HLAA Convention 2011 →

About the author

Dan Schwartz

Electrical Engineer, via Georgia Tech

One Comment

  1. MM
    July 6, 2011 at 2:52 am

    It’s an failure in teaching surely ? deaf teachers teach black and white to deaf children to avoid confusions, then when they are older and someone uses sarcasm/irony they take offence, so I would see the problem as in educating the deaf. Not enough wider awareness of communications is taught to them. You have only to look online at some deaf adults who take instant offence because they simply do not know or understand what irony/sarcasm is. When deaf sign irony (Some do !), then it is accompanied by an alternative facial feature that shows what is said needs an pinch of salt or expects an reaction not really to the sign itself. Like saying “That joke was funny..” but not smiling at that and offering eyes upwards or something, or laughing at what looks like something insulting.. Then again deaf can STILL miss that point and assume the joke really wasn’t funny, because they still don’t understand the irony in it. I think it is essential and enriching the deaf child with awareness, they can miss so much fun ! You don’t have to do something visually slapstick for them to laugh. If you do it takes something away from the deaf person awareness of humour.

Leave A Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: