Saturday, November 19, 2011

(38) Cheating in School Now; Corruption in Government and Business Later

        We read about criminal corruption in Government and Business.  Brilliant people with the best educations, already successful and making a lot of money, but that's not enough.  They want more......not a big house, but a palace.......a bigger car, a bigger yacht, more power, more prestige, win the election or reelection, no matter how.  Then there's petty corruption.......cheating on taxes, cutting corners with the product or service, misrepresenting the product in marketing, violating the rules.  Then of course, we have petty theft, stealing little things from an employer, shoplifting, lying about eligibility for a government service, lying in filling out an insurance claim, welfare cheats, etc.

People like to rationalize or justify their cheating by convincing themselves that what they are doing is right.......”I'm underpaid; taxes are too high; Everybody cheats on their taxes; The store cheats me with their high prices; They won't miss it”.  Embezzling becomes: “I'm not stealing; I'm just borrowing”.  All the rationalizing in the world won't make what is wrong right.  It's still wrong.

 So much money is spent on checking up and watching people to make sure that they don't cheat and try to beat the system.....more forms, more verifying, more bureaucracy, more cops, etc.  That raises the prices of products and government spending because so many people are not producing, but are paid for being watchdogs.  

 Where does it all start?  Yes, in the family, but also in the schools.  If parents don't do their jobs, then teachers must.  Very worrisome is the amount of cheating that goes on in schools and colleges.......using crib sheets or giving answers to others during exams, copying assignments from another student or copying from a book or web site without giving credit to the true author, not playing by the rules in sports, etc. 

 If young people are accustomed to cheating in little things, isn't it much easier to fall into big temptations and big time corruption later?  On the other hand if students are accustomed to be honest in little things, it is very unlikely that they will fall into big time corruption when they have high positions in Government and Business.  That's why I and many teachers around the world give the student a zero for cheating, taking it very seriously.  The university may even expel him for it.

 Thus it is crucial that the teacher does not tolerate any cheating among the students s/he teaches.  Impress them with their sense of fairness.  Is it fair that the dishonest student makes a higher grade than the honest student.  The grade is a lie, a fraud.  Is it fair that the dishonest student receives the award, scholarship, admission to the University, or job and the honest student does not? 

 Students may work together on assignments, but each should put the work together in his/her own way and make a note on the paper with whom they collaborated.  Students may summarize in their own words parts of books and the internet, but they should give the author credit through a footnote.  If a student copies word for word, quotation marks should be used and a footnote.  Giving the impression that it is one's own idea when it is not is plagiarism. 

 A big stick will go only so far in teaching honesty to students.  Honesty must be part of the kid's character and personality.  After all, character is doing what's right when no one is looking.  Integrity is being true to one's moral principles no matter what, to do what is right regardless of the stakes or consequences are.  Once having taught the  students the value of honesty, the teacher may want to test them with the Honor System by walking out of the classroom and saying: "Now begins the exam of life between you and your creator.  I trust you.  “BETTER TO MAKE AN F WITH HONOR THAN AN A WITH SHAME".  I've had good results.

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