• Deborah

CHEATING: Just say "No!"


I’m tired of all the cheating. Harvard kids working their take-home exams (Reuters 2/2/13). Teachers hiring proxies to take their certification exams (NBC 11/25/12). Lance Armstrong. Bernie Madoff. And too many Wall Street scandals to name. Clearly, we as a society have lost our ground on this one.

So, I propose we need a change in the discourse we have with our kids. Maybe this focus we have on integrity, morality and ethics isn’t productive. I’m all for encouraging my children to be broad, independent & critical thinkers. I’m trying to raise them to do the right thing, especially when no one is watching. But we live in a competitive, pressure-packed, eat-or-be-eaten kind of world.

Cheating is often explained away as “the only option” or “everyone does it.”

Well, maybe, we need to be more practical in how we teach the next generation to manage the temptation better:

PARENT

You know you shouldn’t cheat, right?

KID

Uh huh.

PARENT

You know why cheating’s bad?

KID

Because it means I didn’t really learn anything.

PARENT

No.

KID

Because it’s not the score that matters; it’s how I play the game.

PARENT

Nope.

KID

Because only lazy people cheat. Working hard is much more rewarding.

PARENT

Goodness no.

KID

Because it’s illegal? Because you expect more of me? Because you love me even when I fail? Because I learn more about myself when I fail than when I succeed? Because being the top of the class isn’t important if I didn’t respect myself? And it’s even worse if my peers don’t respect me?

PARENT

(shaking head with disapproving sigh)

It’s because you’ll get caught. Most likely not on the day you cheat. Most likely not even a week later. Hell, you might get away with it for a year or two or ten. But they’ll figure it out. And, then they’ll come after you and you’ll be caught. And when you’re caught, you lose everything you gained by cheating plus everything you earned by working hard. And then, you’ll wish you didn’t cheat because it’ll never be same afterwards. So, don’t cheat. Unless you want to be known as a lip-syncer.

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