I have only seriously cheated in school once in my life. There were other minor times, but only one huge lie of an essay paper. And of course I got caught.
It's interesting that I chose to cheat on an essay paper for my favourite teacher in my favourite topic - grade 11 history. I had missed three weeks of school because of complications from getting my tonsils removed. This left me seriously behind in my work and since I am not the most industrious of sorts, I had a lot of trouble catching up.
After many requests for an extension I was up against a wall on my term paper. So, I borrowed a paper from a smart writer friend and copied it. I handed it in, almost verbatim, and received a C on it. I was so shaken that I had gotten a middling mark when the paper got an A the first time round that I -- and I can barely even write this down -- I asked for a second look. That is the crazy confidence of a teenager.
On second reading the teacher -- a teacher who I had spent hours with talking history in his office-- recognized it. I got zero on the paper and had to go to summer night school to pull up my marks. I lost my bid for the history prize, a lot of my self-confidence and had to give up many summer nights of hanging out with my friends.
Looking back, it's hard to imagine that I thought I could pull it off, I can't even lie well. I didn't cheat in math, which I was bad at, I cheated in my best subject. So, why did I do it? I was afraid I was going to a bad job and let myself and my teacher down so I took a shortcut. A very stupid shortcut that nearly threatened my ability to get into university.
It's a good thing I didn't have the Internet to poach from during that crisis. I can see how the Internet would be an incredible temptation for a student under a lot of pressure. According to this article from Today's Parent, kids cheat out of fear, not because they are bad kids. Cheating is actually a sign that they are worried about their marks.
Cheating on my paper was a sign of my perfectionism as well as laziness. I paid a big price -- summer night school -- and lost the respect of someone who I really admired.
I probably won't offer up that story to my kids but I hope that I will create an atmosphere in the house where mistakes are tolerated and if they are feeling overwhelmed we can come up with a plan to overcome it. And if they do get caught for cheating -- I will show them some empathy, but not let them off the hook.
I can't be the only one who cheated. Do you have an embarassing cheating story from your school days?