Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cheating


How bad is cheating among students today? How about helping someone else cheat?

A college-age blogger whose blog I often read, casually and unselfconsciously mentioned, in a post about something else, that she got “into the business of writing papers for this one guy” and that he owes her money for the service. I was surprised that she would mention helping someone cheat in such a casual way, so I hoped I misunderstood her. I challenged her on this:

“Please explain what you mean. Do you mean writing school papers for someone else? Basically cheating for someone else?”

She replied:

“yes. I ‘cheat’ for him. I don't believe its fair that all these damn colleges feel everyone should be well rounded.”

She went on to explain that he’s in a specialized program where it isn’t important that he be knowledgeable in subjects outside his professional training.

I replied:

“It doesn't matter what you think is ‘fair’ or not. What you are doing is extremely unethical. My respect for you just plummeted…. It puts into question all your judgments on everything else you write about. Not to mention the chillul Hashem that such behavior causes. If you have any self respect at all, you won't take the money he ‘owes’ you. It's just as bad as stolen money.”

Her response?

“I'm sorry u feel like that. but to each his own.”

Cheating isn’t a subjective issue. It’s wrong, period. She’s helping the guy steal a grade he doesn’t deserve, she’s stealing from his classmates if grading is done on a curve, she’s stealing money directly from people whose scholarships are based on class standing and which are messed up because of this, and for a good Jewish perspective on why cheating is wrong, see here.

Am I the only one appalled that someone can approach cheating so casually and justify it with the reasoning she uses? What I really want to know is, how prevalent is cheating among Jewish teens and young adults today, and are they at least ashamed?

I’m not that much older. I’m in my late 30’s. But there seems to be a generation gap on this issue. It’s not like my generation never cheated. But those who did were aware they were doing something wrong and were ashamed afterwards. I only cheated once, at age 13 or 14, on one question on one exam. I felt horribly guilty and ashamed for months afterwards and in retrospect regret not confessing to the teacher.

The casual “what’s the big deal” attitude today is shameful and disgusting. Parents & teachers need to do a better job of imparting ethical values to their children & students in this regard.

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