Is Cheating in School An Epidemic?
Honesty is very important to me. If I was famous enough to be filling in Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire, I would definitely say integrity was one of my favourite character traits in both men and women (along with humour, a little edge and some brains).
But cheating in high school was a temptation for me, as it was for all students. Is anyone who spent many years in school completely innocent? Didn't everyone glance over at their neighbour? Send a plaintive look to a friend, hoping for a sign if it was A, B or C? Didn't anyone help out a struggling neighbour with a nod? And, even though I was a good kid with good grades, I did have one major cheating incident in high school (remember this?) and I learned my lesson.
So, I would never assume that my kids are completely innocent and have never cheated a day in their life, as the parents in the video below seem to think. But this whole news report seems over the top. Is cheating really an epidemic? Are our kids going off the rails?
This Dateline show seems to say yes. Though, I doubt that the percentage of kids cheating is any higher now than when I was a student. But it is so easy for the media to convince us that thanks to smartphones and the Internet our kids are in trouble. (I thought this show had some good ideas on how to talk about cheating with your kids, but I thought it was hyperbolic and set the kids up for failure.)
Experts agree that the pressure students are facing is enormous and the grades they need to get into universities and colleges are unreachable. The pressure to achieve at all costs is a reality for our kids and we need to show some empathy to this pressure as parents.
There is also the question of expediency: the Internet offers so many temptations and essays ready for the taking. Teachers are becoming better at spotting plagiarism and computer programs are available that check for authenticity.
That said, I would want cheating to be dealt with harshly by the teacher and administration (natural consequences by the outside world), as it was when I was a kid. Kids cheat and they need to learn that is not okay.
And we parents need to be the first in line with teaching them that -- so before you tell the waitress that your 11-year-old is 10 and can have the kids' menu, or tell a white lie to the police officer, you might want to make sure that no little ones are watching.
Dateline Part One: (there are five parts to this series, if you want to watch the whole thing, go to MSN/Lifestyle Video)
Do you think the message that cheating is wrong is getting out to our kids? Or does it get lost?
Want more chaos? Last year, I encountered some armchair diagnosis in the schoolyard. Not good.