12 December 2012

Student Cheating

The latest outcry of concern in our daily publications is student cheating which to read the reports is endemic in our institutions of learning, from grade school through Ph.D. programs. The concurrent message is that we must immediately do something about it; what, no one says. But all are agreed that it is an onerous development and one that reflects poorly on us all. Personally, I've never been especially exercised over cheating in school considering the fact that a majority of the students in school don't take learning seriously enough for it to make a difference to them or anyone else. Secondly, most of the things students are suppose to learn are either wrong, superficial, or irrelevant. Not that one should endorse cheating, but there are certain things about cheating that seem to be positive. For instance, cheating takes some initiative. It also takes planning, preparation, courage, risk taking, and good nerves (coolness under pressure). These are all qualities that we encourage in our children; but as with so many things in life, if we do them we are being naughty. Again I'm not saying we should encourage cheating, but maybe it isn't the end of the world either. I suspect cheating is not a new phenomenon. I remember reading the Iliad and the Odyssey years ago and thinking I wouldn't trust those Greeks for anything. If my memory is correct, they would lie and cheat with the best of them. So I suspect that cheating is not new either in school or out of it. I suppose we could make it a crime like we do everything else we disapprove of; if caught cheating, off to jail you go. Or, if not having reached your majority, then to detention center; or at least put on probation where you can be monitored by the juvenile probation officer for evidence of continued cheating. The general public must be satisfied; a little like the Roman Collosseum. Cheating is a crime in numerous areas of endeavor such as tax returns, fraudulent transactions, illegal cable hook ups, failure to return library books, prenuptial agreements, fabricated SEC filings. The list could go on, but the point being, no good reason exists to exempt children from the criminal justice system if they cheat. They need to learn early the arm of the law is long and demanding. The earlier the better. As stated in other contexts, it is time to call our legislators for action. New legislation is needed.