What to Do about Cheating
Why do so many students cheat in school—and what can we do about it? That’s the question motivating Jay Mathews column yesterday in The Washington Post. His suggestions run along the line of encouraging teachers to be smarter.
There are dozens of smart ways to give a test, starting with staying in the room and paying attention to what is going on. You can change the order of questions for test papers of students sitting near each other. You can look for obvious similarities in answers. You can have a probing conversation on the lesson after class with a student whose work suddenly and mysteriously improves.
But teachers can only be so smart when it comes to preventing cheating. The real first line of defense is to capture the heart of students, to convince them not only that it is wrong to cheat, but that it matters if they do wrong. Unless students are committed to refusing to cheat under any circumstances, cheating will continue.
If you ever want to have a great conversation about the nature of truth and situational morality, ask a roomful of teenagers if it is ever okay to cheat. Even many Christian students who openly swear allegiance to God’s Word will often make a tortured case for the “okay-ness sometimes” of cheating. They’d rather you not try to equate cheating in school with lying or stealing and apply passages like Proverbs 20:23: ““The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.”
Seemingly in answer to those students, the About.com Teen Advice page put together this uncompromising list of “Ten Things You Need to Know About Cheating.”
As parents, we have two roles to play. One involves teaching the morality (and wisdom!) of truth-telling and courageous peer-resisting to our kids from the time they are quite young. The other is harder: Being willing to accept the fact that yes, Virginia, my kid might be cheating, too. As parents, we’re often the last ones to believe.
That was demonstrated last year in the results of a coordinated survey of parents and teens about cheating with cell phones as reported in U.S. News:
More than 75 percent of parents responding to the survey say that cellphone cheating happens at their children’s school, but only 3 percent believe their own teen is using a cellphone to cheat.
How about you? What’s your approach to knowing if your kids are cheating—or responding when they admit it or get caught? Do you have a strategy to intentionally address the issue before it becomes an issue with your son or daughter?
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