Cheating and drugs are the same thing but opposite. With drugs, DOING something affects you later in life; with cheating NOT DOING something affects you later in life.
Anthony made this statement Monday on the way home from school, and I thought it sounded quoteworthy. It was a frustrating day for him. There'd been a sub in advocacy class, and other kids spent their time talking about methods they use for cheating on tests. Later in the day he had a quiz on the first 11 chapters of Huckleberry Finn, which he was to read over the weekend and which he spent a lot of time on. After class another student, one who got 6 out of 5 on the quiz, told Anthony he had skipped the reading assignment and just read the "SparkNotes" summary. There's another student in his AP (Advanced Placement = college level) Chemistry class who cheats on everything and BRAGS about the fact that he KNOWS NOTHING about Chemistry, a class in which he has an A. Then there's the kid who calls Anthony regularly asking him for answers to homework. Anthony offers to HELP him figure things out, but this kid just wants answers. Anthony says "no;" the kid asks "why?" Anthony answers, "Because it's cheating, and it's wrong." Yet although he gets the same answer every time, this kid keeps boldly calling and trying again!
For lots of reasons this is REALLY frustrating Anthony. He is putting in a lot of time and effort, and others are not but there are no consquences (at least not immediate consequences). Anthony will be competing for spots in colleges with these kids, and if they all have similar GPA's there is nothing to distinguish the kids who EARNED the grades from the ones who cheated, so he may lose a spot to someone with the same GPA who didn't earn it. He's also just disappointed because, at the AP level, Anthony thought he was among peers who shared his vision and values and interest in learning and is saddened to see more and more that this is not the case.
SO as we drove home we had the classic talk about how cheaters are really cheating themselves and how his life is now and will later be RICHER for the work he is doing - both through what he is learning and due to what this hard work now is training him for in terms of life in general - and how it's just important to do the right thing no matter what, which he will. (Being who I am I extended this to the current economic conditions of our country having come from greed and selfishness and - let's be honest - stupidity, and living for the moment instead of considering long-term consequences). That's when Anthony made the statement above, which I thought was quoteworthy.
I know cheating has been going on as long as there has been something to cheat on, and I'm just deluding myself if I think that's going to change, but that doesn't make it OK. Not only as a mother but as a fellow teacher I give this CHALLENGE to other teachers. Make it harder for kids to cheat: give frequent short pop quizzes on the basic concepts (and watch the kids while they take the quiz), make up questions on quizzes and tests that could only be answered by having read the book and not just the "SparkNotes" . . . and then be gutsy enough to do something about it if it becomes clear cheating is going on! If a kid acing your class fails every little pop quiz on the basics . . . uh . . . hmm . . .
AS A TEACHER, I PUT OUT THIS CHALLENGE TO OTHER TEACHERS.
ANECDOTE: I think a lot of people don't think this is a big deal - that it's just expected - a rite of passage - something "everybody" does. (Although I have to wonder how they would feel about having a doctor who cheating in order to pass his medical board test!) As a child I attended a Christian school. I remember one occasion in which students were caught cheating. The teacher sternly lectured the class about that being wrong, and the students were actually bold enough to answer back and even supported their "position" using scripture. They said, "The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself. Isn't it more important that we help other people than it is not to cheat?" They used THE BIBLE to justify cheating! If that can happen, maybe my "challenge" is hopeless, but I need to put it out there anyway.