Saturday, September 11, 2010


Recently, I was doing a unit on satire with one of my classes.  I had covered situational irony and verbal irony.  Situational irony is a contrast between what you expect to happen and what happens.  Verbal irony is a contrast between what is said and what is meant (in short, sarcasm).  Anyway, so we had read some selections from Jonathan Swift in order to analyze the devices of satire.  One such one was "A Modest Proposal" which I'm sure many people have read.  I assigned a project to coincide with the reading where the students had to present their own modest proposal as if it were an idea they were trying to sell.  I had some great (and very funny) projects come out of it.  One student, blamed Hostess desserts for the obesity claiming "obviously it is the fault of the sweets as the poor helpless people simply cannot resist."  I found that so funny I laughed out loud during the presentation.  

Oddly enough, though, as I was doing this unit, I began to notice my own experiences with situational irony in particular.  

DISCLAIMER: In order to protect the identity of students and so as not to be misinterpreted, I will let you know I am going to use the ambiguous pronouns, "they, them, their, etc." in reference to particular students.  Yes, it is incorrect noun/pronoun agreement; however, I am entirely aware of this and do not feel like spending my time thinking about rewording each sentence to avoid saying "he" or "she."

Situation #1 
I have one student who always seems to be uninterested in all things academic.  They do not ever appear engaged no matter what the content is.  Well, I was doing a review of some concepts.  I was trying to get answers out of the students who do not often raise their hands.   I began receiving responses from some of the more reserved ones.  Well, as the momentum was building, more and more hands went up.  Iwas getting excited over responses and I was walking all over the classroom to get answers.  Finally, [begin chariots of fire type music] up in the air flies this students hand.  I have never seem them so eager before.  Eyes that are normally glazed over and staring blankly are bright and alert.  I can't even believe my eyes that this student has their hand up high in the air stretching it in all excitement.  "Yes," I say, "_________ what did you think the answer was?" "Can I go to the bathroom?" Ooooooo...crushed! That moment of anticipation was too good to be true.  Still, I hold out hope that we will have a breakthrough.  Ironic, though, isn't it?

Situation #2
Somehow, a student who never seems to understand what we are going over in class, is amazingly scoring VERY well on quizzes and tests.  This really hasn't been adding up, and it appears as though cheating has been a possibility.  I like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that perhaps there is a lot of studying going on at home, which is resulting in higher scores.  Well, this week, the quizzes were done orally.  Each student had to answer a question aloud.  When this student was called on to answer, they had no clue at all about what the answer was.  Even given a second chance, they were not able to answer.  Another quiz was given; we have changed the seating chart.  The student they are sitting near now got two answers completely wrong, this student had the same two very wrong answers written down.  BUSTED! Maybe this isn't ironic as it is funny to me.  Yet it still shows that the expectations of this student to do well clashed with reality.

Situation #3
I put the dogs in their crates for the night on Thursday night.  I headed to bed, locked the door, and turned the lights out.  Suddenly, I hear somebody coming up my stairs! I freak out because Lee was in the field and there are two deadbolt locks on both of the doors downstairs.  With one, a key is needed.  The other one is a security lock, and it is impossible to get in with that lock secured.  I always lock the doors.  How is somebody coming up the stairs? I think to myself.  Cautiously, I grab a weapon that Lee leaves at home with me for my security, and I sneak toward the door.  I slowly open the door, and I still am hearing movements.  This is freaking me out because it sounds like somebody is downstairs.  But it also sounds like they are taking no care to even try to be quiet.  Well, as I go down the stairs (gun in hand), I find out I am hearing our neighbors moving about in their house! Oh my!

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading these ironic situations. The hostess desserts to blame is a cute one. I can remember getting excited when so many hands would go up too, and similar reasons like needing to go to the bathroom. I love reading your way with words.