Monday, October 24, 2011

The "C" Word

Every year, this topic rears its ugly head.  Cheating.   In fact, cheating came up twice in just the past few days.

The first time, a previous student sent me an email describing an incident.
I got a first-hand look at a serious case of cheating today. A girl got her hands on a test that she was going to take later, and she offered a new friend of mine the chance to work on the problems together so that he could do well on the test. He took it. I was obviously not too okay with it, but it wasn't my place to really do anything.
This is a clear case of cheating.  This kind of cheating will get a student kicked out of most universities.  Case closed.

The second time was just this morning and involved my daughter - in my car - on the way to school.  She was talking to her friend about the homework they had to complete over the weekend. Her friend asked if she finished the history notes.  My daughter replied, "All except for two.  I'll just copy them from you real quick when we get to my mom's room."  Um, I think NOT.  Here's the thing.  To them, that wasn't cheating.  To me, it most definitely was cheating.  And I did not allow the "copying" to happen.

Because these two situations happened within days of each other, I felt compelled to research it more.  Cheating isn't new. It happens. All. The. Time.  This I know.  However, I'm intrigued at how cheating changes over the years.  During my first year of teaching, students used to roll up cheat sheets and put them inside their highlighter pens. (This was also the preferred note exchange method.) Now, technology has enabled it to become easier and (dare I say it?) more acceptable.

Read this article A Cheating Crisis in America.  It was published back in April, but it's still relevant.

What is the point of cheating anyway?  What is there to gain?  Is it the grade? It's just a letter.  Isn't the point of all this education, all this lifetime of learning - just that:  to learn.  If you cheat your way through middle school, then high school, then college, what happens when you get out into the real world?  Will these "cheaters" be able to function in a job?  How?   What is cheating to you? Do you think it's acceptable in certain situations? Why do you think students cheat?

Will anyone answer this:  Do you cheat?  Why?

Edit:  Here is a link to the article mentioned by Howard Ki (thanks) The Shadow Scholar

Update:  After reading through the comments, I am compelled to add a bit to this post.

First, I want to thank those students who are being honest and commenting on this post in the spirit for which is intended.  Indeed, I do not want you all to respond the way you think I want you to respond. You should communicate your true ideas on the topic.  That is the point.  Thank you to those who are doing just that.

Have I cheated before? Well, sure when I was in middle and high school, I did. I don't know a person who hasn't cheated once in his or her life.  Does that mean I can't think it's wrong now? I don't think so.  Does it make me a hypocrite? No. What I know about cheating and how I feel about the subject has guided me to implement some strategies in my classroom to hopefully teach you guys the value of learning.  Anyone ever notice how much collaborative work I allow in my classroom?  Wonder why?  Is there a difference between cheating and working as a team to accomplish a common goal?