Teaching Kids How To Cheat

Katie Young
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Wednesday - November 19, 2008
| Del.icio.us

There are lots of things you can learn just by looking on the Internet these days - everything from how to cook a soufflé to how to redo your kitchen floors. It’s an easy way to learn something new without having to leave the comfort of your desk chair.

At the other end of the Internet education spectrum, however, there are bad lessons to be learned from this 24-hour access to all the world has to offer - things as dangerous as how to build a bomb, for example. Or how to get away with bad behavior like cheating in school.

The popular YouTube site even shows teenagers explaining to other teenagers how to cheat and get away with it.

This is not the kind of education you were hoping your kids would get, right?

I started to think about my own school days. Did I ever cheat on a test in high school or college? No. Was I tempted to? Yes.

Did I ever read CliffsNotes instead of reading the entire book? Yes.


Did I know other people who cheated regularly on tests and class assignments? Definitely.

The ways kids cheat today doesn’t seem much different from when I was in school: copying someone else’s homework, cheating on a quiz or test by looking at someone else’s paper or writing tiny notes on your arm, looking at CliffsNotes instead of reading the actual book, or plagiarizing published work to write your essay for class.

For students, it’s all a means to an end.

According to the online site Education News (Ednews.org) there are several reasons why students cheat, all based on three factors: pressure to get good grades, being unprepared and the challenge of trying to get away with something that’s wrong.

An article on why students cheat on EdNews by Alan Haskvitz states that the majority of students cheat to improve their success in the long run. Students feel that good grades will get them into a good college or university and a good job.

“It’s no secret that many parents find that grades are the most important factor for a child, and this is reflected in bumper stickers proclaiming honor roll status,” says Haskvitz. “Unfortunately, this attitude also has a negative effect, as students become more grade-oriented instead of learning-oriented. They select the easiest teachers, the easiest classes, and deny themselves the opportunity to be challenged or to take academic risks.”

It seems many of us are looking for things to “come easy” for us these days. It’s a mentality that likely starts in our youth and carries on through adulthood. How many of us would rather take the easy way of doing something if it helps us reach a goal? Or would you actually say, “No, I’d rather be challenged and take the hard road.”

Students are likely feeling the same way. If there’s an easy way, why not do it? Why make things harder on yourself?

According to the Who’s Who Among American High School Students surveyed in 1997 about cheating, findings showed that 92 percent of confessed cheaters surveyed said they have never been caught and the prevailing attitude among the majority of students was that cheating in school was no big deal.

Cheating is definitely a learned behavior. If there are no consequences for cheaters, why would students stop making their lives easier just so that they could be challenged?

Some teachers feel that placing such a big emphasis on grades drives students to lose interest in learning. This is where I feel the responsibility falls on the parents to get involved in their child’s learning instead of just leaving it up to the teachers at school.

But teachers also need to be on the lookout for cheaters in class and find suitable punishments for those who are caught.

An emphasis on getting good grades is never going to change. But making sure that students know the importance of what learning can bring to their lives in the long run is what we should really focus on.

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