Good and careful consideration of cheating in school, especially with regard to different disciplines in college, in a post at Aude Sapere*. That post is well written, very thought provoking, and well worth the time one might spend on it. The figures are depressing, generally, but reflect a general view we hear from students too often — in an era when top government officials cheat to get what they want (think: why did we invade Iraq?), students often test to see whether we can detect their cheating, and to see what we’ll do about it.
The grand mystery to me is this: It’s generally more time consuming, and more difficult, to try to cheat, than it would be to learn the material well enough to pass my exams; why bother to cheat? The day that light dawns on a student is always a good day.
I am hopeful that part of the rise in confessed cheating is due to an increased sense of just what cheating is. Borrowing quote cards from a debate colleague is considered required sharing; using those same quote cards to put together a paper for another class — is that over the line? (I don’t regard it as cheating, but I’d be interested in hearing if you do.) Do today’s students consider that forbidden? Are today’s students more moral?
Short essays are a good way to get around most cheating, but short essays create grading nightmares that grow exponentially with the number of students.
What’s the solution?
Another blog takes a look at Florida legislation which, to me, is part of the cheating problem. Tony Whitson at AAACS Matters! calls for action against the Florida law which aims to avoid “interpretation” in teaching history, but which also dabbles in changing the facts of nature for biology study, and generally tends to politicize public school curriculum.
It seems to me that the Florida legislature is doing the same thing high school cheaters hope to do — when the facts are difficult or troubling, change them. High school kids can’t change certain facts of history that they do not want to bother to learn, but legislatures, with a great finger in the eye of history, learning and democracy, can try.
And, if presidents and state legislators can play fast and loose with the facts, why shouldn’t a high school student at least try to do the same? If our kids watch what we do, and not what we say, we may be in for several years of increased cheating.
* Aude sapere is Latin, a line from Kant; it means “dare to know.” I posted it over my classroom door for three years; only a few students ever asked about it. Each of them subsequently took up Kant’s challenge, either continuing their quest for knowledge in history or economics, or more often, taking up such a quest for the first time.