School Cheating: A Cause of Students’ Troubles or Its Consequence?
People tend to blame wrongdoers by default, leaving circumstances and motivations aside. Usually, it is a plausible way to evaluate a situation, but sometimes, a second thought is needed, like in case with school cheating. But what is cheating, why does it exist, how does it affect students’ skills and can it be prevented (and should it)? We will try to find answers to these questions in the following article, so read on.
What Is Cheating and Why Does It Exist Among Students?
Cheating is copying home tasks from other students, from the web or asking for other students’ help while sitting the exams or midterm tests (and other kinds of assessment). Cheating is blamed on the laziness of students and is supposed to mean their total educational failure since they cannot cope with the material and so ‘steal’ it from the others.
But cheating has existed probably as long as students and teachers themselves. People with excellent grades and records have poor jobs, and people who dropped from their schools or hardly managed to graduate then build successful careers and create cool things. So it looks like getting good grades or completing all homework individually does not guarantee success and vice versa. So, well, cheating is not an indication of academic failure. It indicates something else. But what?
It points to the extreme loads of duties and expectations placed on children and to the total inability of the education system to account for natural capacities and limits children have. It also indicates that inbuilt creativity and smartness of children still exist, and it helps children rig the system that is rigged against them, in the first place. Put in less complicated words, if children are expected to accomplish things that are basically un-accomplishable, they will find the way out. If homework is so big that it is impossible to cope with it for the majority of students, they will find the way to obtain it from smarter and more persistent classmates or will complete parts of work and exchange these parts between themselves, so that everyone gets a complete work. Anyway, in a system where grades mean everything and knowledge and understanding mean nothing, cheating is only one of the logical step kids take to help themselves out.
Common Misconceptions About Cheating
Cheating is for lazy. – No. Time and efforts spent on preparation of cheats are as labor intense as any other intellectual activity. Some may argue that students better be learning with this intensity, but teachers today assess not knowledge but very formal markers of knowledge, and students provide what is required from them.
Cheating does nothing to improve knowledge and just brings students undeserved grades. – No. While copying homework or preparing cheats for tests students repeat the material and learn at least basics of stuff that they will not get otherwise.
Cheating outwardly harms learning process. – No. It improves it. Students exchange, copy, repeat, go over the stuff, read, select, and in general do things they are supposed to do at school.
Cheating makes students stupid. – Big no. Just imagine how much creativity and skills are required to prepare cheats and to use them. It requires self-control, discreetness, resistance to stress, ingenuity and many more traits that are absolutely necessary in our agile and unstable world. So instead of memorizing stuff, they do not understand, students learn skills they will apply anywhere – and be praised as valuable workers.
Cheating is unethical. – If assessing formal criteria (like writing all answers to problems in a column) instead of assessing the correctness of answers and creativity of thinking is OK from an ethical viewpoint, then cheating as an adequate solution is ethical as well.
Surprising Upsides to Cheating for Children
Cheating is training in itself, and even more intense and useful training than writing letters or memorizing poems. To cheat, children, even in elementary school, need to develop and possess the following skills (and can every adult boast of having them all?):
- attention to details
- memorizing things heard or seen only once (catching a glimpse in a mate’s handout, for example)
- fast reaction
We can bet that every adult would want to develop these traits in themselves and see them develop in their kids. Hence cheating is a very positive booster for these skills – and not only for the classroom.
Homework is actually useless and even dangerous for kids
Despite the traditional belief into the usefulness of loads of homework, the reasons behind giving it are more of wishful thinking kind than of true science. Indeed, older students can benefit from limited amounts of homework, but not young kids and middle schoolers. Recent experiments on canceling homework altogether show that students in such classes show the same level of academic success and failures as students who perform homework daily. So what’s the sense?
Besides, along being mostly useless, unregulated and abundant homework is outwardly harmful to the mental and physical health of kids.
- Homework harms kids’ health significantly by stealing their sleep and play/rest time. A school day is almost equal to a workday, but after this day kids are expected to work even more, and it is called ‘time management’, not overtime work, like it should be. Children lack sleep, lack exercise and simply relaxation time, they get mental health problems, anxieties, chronic fatigue, eating disorders, – all for the sake of turning in an assignment that no one will bother to check.
- Homework steals time. Kids have their whole day mapped out for them, with no time to be kids or teens, they are treated like adults in regard to responsibilities but dismissed as children when it comes to their wishes and needs. Not very progressive approach. Hometask is also believed to discipline kids, teach them to order, but the world needs creativity today, and structured time filled with boring useless tasks is a killer of creativity.
- According to Alfie Cohn, a researcher, – and many other reliable investigations, – the impact of homework on academic success is almost negligible. So why is the practice of homework so persistent? Just because of habit?
- Homework destroys peace with parents. Teens already have it hard during their transition from childhood to adulthood. Homework is one more stumbling stone that makes kid and parents argue. Parents believe that teachers know what they do when they give that much homework (but it looks like they don’t). So parents make kids do every assignment instead of relaxing, watching TV or socializing. That’s enough to spark a quarrel. Sometimes parents try to help kids do cope with tasks, but parents have long forgotten the school stuff (or did not learn it properly anyway). Besides, they are not teachers and do not have skills and patience to explain and help properly, on a level accessible to a child. So instead of help, new trouble of miscommunication arises.
Cheating Is a Symptom of the Problem, Not a Cause
So what is the conclusion? Cheating time, everyone? Definitely, no, it is not. Students do need to learn and understand school subjects properly to be able to study in college and then move on to work. But cheating persistently indicates that the education system does not work the way it should, and instead of gaining skills students employ cheating tactics to get high grades that are demanded by parents, teachers and state/federal education bodies. If the system becomes more productive and inspiring, with less stress on failure and more pressure on the joy of discovery and learning something new, then cheating will become a negligent percentage of students’ activities. As of today, it is a bailout gear that helps students stay afloat in the modern schooling system and not lose their mind completely.
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