There isn’t a sure fire cure for passive-aggressive behavior because if there was, I’m sure that someone would have written a how-to manual about it by now, since it is such a time waster and annoyance to everyone. Aggressive behavior is the act of transgressing another by doing something to take away their rights, and usually in an “in-your-face” way that leaves people feeling intimidated and victimized. Passive behavior renders it’s recipients oddly out of sorts because they feel excluded from either a group or individual interaction that would make an interaction communicative. But passive-aggressive behavior takes the worst from both and leaves everyone involved annoyed and frustrated.
The Urban Dictionary defines it as: “A defense mechanism that allows people who aren’t comfortable being openly aggressive to get what they want under the guise of still trying to please others. They want their way, but they also want everyone to still like them.”
An example of passive-aggressive behavior in the classroom goes something like this:
Student looking very unhappy about having to do a task assigned. Student. “Is it okay for us to use cell phones in class. (cell phones are not allowed in the classroom, but it is a controversial issue because some parents want their kids to have them). Teacher. “I have just assigned notes to be taken on the Unit Chapter. After you copy the notes you can answer the questions at the end of Chapter.” Student. “I wish we could work with partners. Can we work with a partner?” Teacher. If you can work quietly with a partner, it’s okay.” Student goes around to all the students with cell phone socializing. Student. “So is it okay if we use our cell phones while we work?” Teacher. “Well, usually cell phones are not allowed, but if you think they will help, it’s okay.” Students start to socialize and use cell phones and not do the assigned task. Student. “Is is okay if we do this for homework.” Teacher. “This is assigned for this time slot as class work, and you will have something else for homework.” Student. “I can do both for homework, can’t I?” Teacher. “I don’t recall hearing that you can do class work and home work at home and socialize at school.” Student. “Well, would it be okay if we did it that way today?”
The teacher in this situation doesn’t know if they should reward the student for cleverly manipulating the situation or punish for invalidating his/her authority and getting not only his/her way, but directing and disrupting the entire class and other students from learning and doing the assigned task.
The main problem with the pervasive instances of passive-aggressive behavior is that of all the time and energy the student used to get out of doing the assignment, he/she could have just as easily done the assignment and been ahead of the game for understanding the homework. Teacher’s usually don’t know which is more of a nuisance; the students who use a sarcastic, cynical tone for the above dialogue or are just unconsciously programmed to get what they want by being passive-aggressive.
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