Cheating in school varies from copying off your best friend’s test to full-blown copying and pasting in your school final project. But it doesn’t stop there. We all have friends who cheated or cheated ourselves- maybe not in final exams but copying off your friend’s homework for some participation marks is nothing unheard of. What’s troubling is if we cheat, we don’t learn.
But what would lead someone to cheat?
Some possible scenarios (Personally experienced the first three myself):
- After spending HOURS on the work, it’s accidentally deleted minutes before it’s due
- You forget your homework at home & and the teacher doesn’t believe you
- Half the class is cheating- why should you get lower marks than the cheaters when you worked hard
- I have to get into the university of my choice
- Parental pressure- ‘My parents will kill me if I fail another exam.’
- Plain laziness
The list goes on and on and on.
My Personal Story
Note: The names of the people involved are changed to protect their identities.
I grab two pens from my pencil case, my palms cold. My palms always get cold before tests. Mr. Stone, the grade 10 Hospitality and Cooking teacher hastily hands out the midterm test papers.
“Don’t cheat,” he mumbles, staring into space. He hurries out the door.
Wow. It’s almost as if he’s encouraging everyone to cheat. Shalini and Katrina openly exchange answers. I scan the room. I see three girls copying from the textbook across the room, giggling. The two guys in the corner are practically writing each other’s papers. It’s team work all the way.
Shalini taps my shoulder, “Want some answers?”
“No, I’m good. I’d feel way too guilty if I did.” I stare at my paper, “Besides, I actually studied.”
Shalini shrugs, “You’re pretty strong to say no.” she smiles encouragingly.
She asks me some of the answers- Of course I help her. She’s one of my best friends. How can I say no?
“Katrina, the answer to number five is braising, not boiling.” Shalini murmurs.
Katrina swiftly jots down. Shit. I wrote down boiling. I scratch out my answer, correcting it to ‘braising’. So much for feeling “way too guilty.”
I gaze across the room at the clock. 5 minutes left. I glimpse at Shalini and Katrina. They noisily scribble down answers. I sit back in my seat, contemplating my moral dilemma.
I wrestle with the two voices inside my head. It’s an inner-monologue of an overly tense teenager in test taking anxiety.
It’s just a cooking test! Just ask the answer for the last question. Screw honesty! It’s not like you’re Ms. Perfect.
Maybe, but cheating is cheating. Your parents would be ashamed if they knew. Is this the kind of person you want to be?
No… But is it fair for the cheaters to have an upper hand? You’ll get lower marks than the cheaters. That’s NOT fair!
I grumble, staring blankly at my paper. My writing looks like chicken scratch. There’s so many words crossed out, it looks like some kind of crazy, intentional pattern. I flip my paper over and rest my head on the wooden desk.
To Cheat or Not to Cheat…
A funny video about cheating.
Okay, so in the end I did technically cheat in that cooking test since I crossed out my answer from ‘boiling’ to ‘braising’. By some miracle, I still ended up with a better grade than Shalini and Katrina in that test. Will I ever cheat now? No. There’s no need. I feel proud when I’m honest with myself. Everyone is capable of achieving greatness without cheating, so why cheat? Just reach your potential! Besides, failing a test makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. Maintaining your honesty and character does. I finally know something now I didn’t back then.
Education should NOT be only about grades. It’s about knowledge. It’s about applying what we learned, even outside the class room. The brightest person doesn’t always get the best grades. Sometimes, your memory fails you. Sometimes, you have a shitty day and can’t focus. I think school and college education is there to shape us into critical thinkers. There are classes where I felt I learnt nothing where I got 80s. There are also classes where I got 60s (Math) but learned a whole lot, though I struggled. Our education is to teach us to think critically and to question and challenge common assumptions. Even if you don’t get the best grades in class, you can still achieve great things. Just look at Bill Gates! He was a college dropout, just like Steve Jobs. But their inner drive to succeed and innovative thinking is probably what made them into some of the richest billionaires.
On a side note, Steve Jobs gives credit to what he learnt in his college calligraphy class for helping him form the typography for Mac computers. It just goes to show it’s what you make of your education that truly counts!