The Paradox Of Sarcasm
I've been going through some more of the old recordings of the unhealthy class I was in this past winter while I finish up some sculptures.
It's difficult in ways but also very illuminating.
It's made me realize; yet again that most people, no matter what their actions, wholeheartedly believe they are helping others. Unfortunately this doesn't mean they and I fear doing this on a very deep level.
Since undergrad even, I have feared teaching because I don't want to perpetuate any of the unhealthy teaching methods I experienced. This past winter I sought out yet another teacher who would use toxic teaching methods so intensely that I wouldn't be able to ignore them.
So then that brings me to what exactly are toxic methods of teaching?
I didn't really understand until I learned about manipulative marketing tactics. Then when I understood those, I saw how similar methods are used in teaching. Once I had a name and a framework to understand it I began see specifically what was toxic and seek out alternatives.
I've had various people tell me, "since you experienced this there's no way you will do it to others." and while I think awareness is an awesome step, I don't think its that easy. I think breaking out of an old system requires regular efforts to check in with what you known to be toxic and assessing if you are utilizing it in any way. These things are a habit and they are part of a much bigger societal pattern, so it's easy to slip back into them.
Some of the toxic methodology I now see being utilized are things like gas lighting, manipulation, bullying, and a denial of the validity anything other than positive experiences.
These are all complicated topics but because I love sarcasm, I want to talk about it and how it can be a form of bullying.
Sarcasm is defined as, "the use of irony to mock or convey contempt."
I have read it's considered "low humor" but I kind of love it. I'm all for using it in art to make fun of ideas, cultural constructs, etc
When it's used towards other people though, it's a declaration that one person is better than the other. It's a way to bully someone.
And when it's used by a teacher towards a student, it's a massive violation of the teacher student relationship. It's fucked up and it's not ok in any situation whatsoever.
Listening to these old recordings I hear so much sarcasm. It was an attempt to lighten the mood while dealing with difficult things but it was very damaging to me in ways I didn't realize till much later.
I think one of the reasons this stands out to me so much is because I can and probably have done this, although hopefully to much less an extent, to students. I have been teaching to some extent since 2007 and while I don't have any specific memories that come up, I know in my gut that I have definitely used sarcasm with students both young and old. At the time I was probably working to diffuse my own tension and not trying to be hurtful, but that doesn't make it ok.
So then that's my paradox. Can I use sarcasm in my art yet be mindful of not acting with contempt towards other people? I'm really not sure but I'm going to try.
I wish I had some sort of conclusion for this, but I don't really.