I guess the old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” might be true. As a non-traditional student attending college when I was nearly fifty, the Math instructor asked for cell phones when we got ready to take a test. I was taken aback. At the time, I didn’t have a clue how to even access the calculator component on my phone! And the idea of text messaging someone a question would never have occurred to me! Why are our young people so quick to cheat and how is it done?
I was taught cheating was wrong on all levels. It was just not done. Period! No excuses. But as we have acknowledged over the past five weeks, cheating is done on a host of levels. There is cheating in the workplace, politics, on Wall Street, in the media and advertising. So I guess the question becomes, “Why not cheat? Everyone does it!” Isn’t this the signal we are sending this growing generation?
Cheating comes in all form in academia. There is the standard cheating where a student attempts to copy someone else’s paper on a test or submitting homework which has been copied. Other forms of cheating include fabricating or inventing data for an experiment which wasn’t really done; plagiarism, the act of using someone else’s words as your own without consent or acknowledging the source, which isn’t only cheating, but illegal; or even group work where only one or two of the group actually do the work.
This last one might not seem like cheating, but I remember instances even in college, where a team of five or six actually amounted to two or three doing all the work. Others may or may not have attended the meetings, but certainly gave a minimum amount of effort toward the completed project. This can be particularly frustrating when the several doing the work want success and a good grade and know if they don’t do the work, the entire team will fail.
One article I read on the subject (link below) shared an incident even at Harvard University where students cheated on a final exam for an Introduction to Congress course. It was a take home, open-book, open-note and Internet accessible test, yet the students found the need to discuss the test between themselves, the one thing which was forbidden. Why? These students should have had the confidence to complete it on their own given the very fact they were attending Harvard and they certainly had plenty of freedom to find the answers elsewhere. But this has become our society. It’s easier to cheat than do the work ourselves.
Studies show over half of our young people believe cheating is necessary for success. If this is true, is it any wonder we see it overflow into politics, advertising and Wall Street? Sadly, this mindset also overflows into relationships. When cheating becomes a part of who we are, it not only affects the “business” side of life, it affects how we deal with people. Our conversations are tainted with half-truths and our promises are said with no real plan of commitment.
As I conclude this series on dishonesty, I’m a bit saddened by the very depth our society has dropped in deceitful behavior. I encourage you to reflect on the state of affairs we have found ourselves and ask you to look at your personal world: your children, extended family, those you work with or have social encounters. Do you require relationships to be honest or do you find “fudging” the corners acceptable? How does this make you feel? Please share your thoughts with us!