Monday, October 15, 2007

I'm a skeptic. Not a cynic.

I preface my classes with the aforementioned statement. However, it has come to my attention (via one of my students...Deb, you know who you are) that I tend to be seen as a snarky cynic. I tried to dispute it but I realised that it was quite the impossible task. I am snarky. That's my persona as a teacher. But a cynic? Yes, I tend to be quite anti-establishment when I'm talking about things in class, but that's all part and parcel of being a thinking person in a Singaporean society. It calls for either cynicism or a form of insanity, and I would much prefer the former to the latter.

I've come to realise that the reason that I tend to be snarky as a teacher is simply this: I don't really have anything else but that. As a disciplinarian, I'm quite useless unless I really lose my temper, and that is rarely lost. I run a relatively long fuse (which leads to a HUGE powder keg but that's another thing altogether) and I don't like blowing up. So, no, getting angry rarely results in anything useful for me. What that sadly leaves me with is sarcasm. And I do that relatively well. The sarcasm also tends to come out only in very specific circumstances: Actually, only one kind of instance, and that happens a LOT here in Singapore.


I hate stupidity. I have little patience for stupidity. One might wonder why I went into teaching if I hated stupidity that much. I have this to say in my defense however. I really didn't think that students would be that stupid.

Before you scoff at the naivete, I'll clarify. The stupidity that I'm talking about really isn't the lack of knowledge on the part of the person. That's not stupidity, that's ignorance. And that, I've realised, students would have in spades. And that's fine. I really didn't know all that much as a student. (I really don't know as much as I wish I did now as an adult too) That's a problem that can easily be fixed.

The stupidity that I'm talking about is the kind of stupidity that drives people to do stupid things like organise fights just for the heck of it without considering (a) the consequences or (b) an escape route to vanish into obscurity so that the authorities do not catch you. The kind of stupidity that makes one think that he/she can leave work that's supposed to be done over 2 years to a week before the exams. The kind of stupidity that causes people to kill themselves over small matters. Or the kind of stupidity stop people from using their own judgment and instead trust entirely what's on a piece of paper. Or even, perhaps the kind of stupidity that allows us to continually swallow the lies that we know to be untrue.

It's that kind of stupidity that plain pisses me off. Unfortunately, it's the kind of stupidity that I live with everyday. But it's not limited to just schools. I live in a country that's rife with this kind of stupidity. It's so ingrained in us that we cease to see it anymore and we tend to gloss over it...all the while living with the little niggling bit of rationality in our minds that makes us feel a sense of unease when faced with it.

And that's what gets me snarky. I don't really like being snarky. It's not in my nature. (Although at times, it is cathartic) But there's so much that goes on around me that I've ceased to get angry anymore and I prefer to just snipe from a position that's far enough away that I don't really need to care that much anymore.

Well...I guess that kind of sums it up in a nice alliterative way: Just call me the Snarky Sniper. Let's not.


Anonymous debs said...

hey sir, i know you're not snarky ALL the time, I guess it's our class that brings that out isn't it? x)

Wed Oct 17, 08:58:00 pm 2007  
Blogger delphinium said...

hey what happened to the long fuse when you were teaching my class? I seem to recall various books/tables/chairs that were tossed about. =)


p/s wanting any thing from target? I'm coming bearing goodies already

Fri Oct 19, 08:03:00 pm 2007  

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