Let’s all get on the same page about something… kids cheat. Maybe not all of them, but certainly most of them do — for sure.
Oh, you doubt me? Look, I’m not trying to slander anyone here but let’s look at a literal, dictionary definition of the word “cheating”.
Cheating: to defraud; swindle: to deceive; influence by fraud: to elude; deprive of something expected: to practice deceit: to violate rules or regulations: to take an examination or test in a dishonest way, as by improper access to answers
Hmmm… do I have a leg to stand on? (Well, if you are going to get all literal…)
Now obviously there are gradations to the violations here. Some kids simply steal answers outright from their teachers to the tests. Some students mildly glance over at the paper of other students during examinations. Some kids copy homework. Some students plagiarize. Some students write answers on their hands before tests. Some students have their parents do so much work on their homework assignments that its the parents who are most deserving of receiving a project grade.
Like I said though, if we get all literal about it, kids today cheat. Most of them.
Now of course, with cheating comes rationalizations. For example, for the parent who does far too much of their child’s homework assignment, they’ll tell themselves that 1) they are just trying to help 2) this is what good parents do 3) the silly teacher is giving way too much work and my kid needs to get to bed, and on and on and on.
Kids who cheat will also rationalize their deeds. From the pressure of competition to the unreasonableness of the educator from the justification that, “Hey, everyone is doing it,” kids today could come up with a million reasons to legitimize their actions.
And you know what? Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones because when I was in middle and high school, if you want to go all “literal definition of the word on me” I cheated, too. I copied homework problems, I glanced at answers on the paper of the kid next to me, and so on. Was it wrong? Of course. Do I “regret” it? Let’s put it this way, I don’t live in a world of guilt and remorse thinking my soul has been eternally stained because I edged my score up a bit with the unwitting help of Gary the science genius when it came to memorizing the periodic table I had not fully memorized back in 1983.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong, though. It was. But life goes on.
So how do I handle cheating? Well, I see “wandering eyes” all the time when I give tests. I usually throw a out very firm sounding, “Eyes on your own tests please” and that suffices. Of course, some of my tests don’t allow for cheating, such as when they write essay responses — but some of them do. Being that I give cloze tests, multiple choice tests, single sentence responses and so on over hte course of the year — and some kids have me for period 1 and some for period 5 — there is simply no way for me to foolproof my assessment system. Kids will have their chances to cheat and I know that I am not going to catch many of them.
But this school just uncovered an epidemic of cheating — and the whole community is paying the price. First, graduation was cancelled. Then the media drags their name through the mud so that anyone associated with this school is tainted. Furthermore, every teacher and administrator on campus appears to be a bumbler, a dupe who should have known.
And the district is dropping the hammer on the non-whistle blowers as if they do not understand how demonized kids who “snitch” are in our modern school systems.
On one hand, it smacks of foolishness and naiveté to think that MOST kids have not cheated in some way, shape or form on their way to a diploma. (And I love when parents take the high road and say, “Not my kid!” Uh, yeah right.)
On the other hand, being that we do not overtly teach values (i.e. they are nowhere in our standards) and we simply list things like THOU SHALT NOT CHEAT in the “rules of school”, why is it that we should expect anything less?
If you want a student to learn something you have to teach it to them and right now, our schools (and our society) are littered with places where we are “assuming” somebody else is going to teach what’s critical. I mean who was Centerburg High School counting on here to teach its student body that cheating would not be tolerated and for those found complicit the punishment would feel draconian if you did not come clean? The parents? The neighbors? Did the Superintendent ever mandate a symposium on cheating for the student body?
Are the kids really to blame? Yes they are. However, could this school not have done a better job in terms of not setting the table for this type of mess to happen?
Of course it could have.
I am sure all of them had detailed lessons in the use of an apostrophe as well as how to find the slope of a Y intercept on a graph, though.
Where are the simple lessons on character? It’s undermining our entire society when we do not teach this stuff.