Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cheating and the "New Morality"

When I was a student it never occurred to me to cheat, copy or use another's knowledge to do well in a test or paper. I remember hearing about a relative who earned his college tuition by writing papers. Apparently he was really good at it.

It's not that I got great grades without hard work or "help." It's just that cheating was so foreign to the culture of the day, at least where I lived. Or maybe it was just me. I'd rather fail, and also I was terrified of being caught. We were a generation that knew our limits and was terrified of authority, at least for awhile. Mine was also the generation that became "hippies" and ate natural foods and tried to be at peace with nature. Competition became evil, and I remember hearing the phrase: "learn for learning' sake, not for the grades," or something like that.

According to this article, new, modern technology has made cheating very easy, amazingly so. Tiny cameras photograph tests, so someone else can text message answers.

What bothers me is the attitude of kids I've caught cheating: "What's the big deal?" they ask me. I learned the hard way that I have to insist on a "clean desk," when I found one students copying from a paper under his jacket, which was lying on the table. I used to teach in a special English Room, so it was much easier to enforce the "clean desk" rule.

Where I teach, we have a rule that students can't use phones during tests, and I insist that they are off during ordinary lessons, "off, not vibrate" I tell them. I used to say: "I have two sons in the army. If I can turn my phone off, so can you!" The main reason I insist the phones are off to keep from seeing my students distracted and talking during lessons. It's hard enough for those sleep-deprived kids to concentrate on my lessons. I don't want to see more distractions.

Good night!