Monday, June 26, 2006

Beating the odds...

re: EdTech Blog

Kennedy cheated on his spouse.

Johnson was dishonest about the war.

Nixon lies...Ford pardons.

Carter is brutally honest and get in trouble for being a bit too honest.

Bush Sr. was head of the CIA. I am sure he never lied.

Clinton only lied about certain things and women.

Bush Jr...well, the jury is still out on that one....we'll see what history says.

And it's not just limited to presidents or even politicians. Enron, Arthur Oh, you get my drift.

Cheating is not new, nor is it as pervasive as it first seems and it is not just the underdog that does it.

The reasons for cheating are myriad and in fact, I am not seeing a tremendous effort to squelch it. In fact, it is somewhat unnatural for many cheaters to actually suffer any punishment.

The history of this country and for that matter of most nations is littered with lies. And yet, the countries still survive, and most of them have a fair footing on morality. Cheating appears to be a fascinating subject for news, and if you can't find it on the regular nightly, there will surely be a lot of marital hanky panky on one of the entertainment/actor shows for the public's prurient interest.

Now, I must admit that when I was growing up, I did not steal watermelons out of people's fields. I always gave back the excess when someone miscounted my change. I never cheated on a test or exam. I never copied a statement from another person. In fact, I never had an idea that was not originally mine. Of course, I did fib a bit.

At the bottom of it all, is an assumption that all these test that we are cheating on, is really going to tell someone what I know. Well, the reason I do so well on test is because of steroids, Ritalin, Ginko Biloba and
Huperzine A, Phosphatidylserine, and/or Acetyl-L-carnitine and a handful of other performance enhancement drugs. Then before I take and exam, I have a straight person pee into a condom, so I can dumb it in the little test bottle that they use for testing my blood. I even tuck the condom up under my arm before I empty it so that when they test the temperature it will be close to body temperature. Then during the exam, I have a proxy give me high pitched phone rings that only dogs can hear so the proctor can't see what's going on. Do I feel guilty...nah....I feel above average, because in today's world who wants to be average.

If we want to put an end to people doing disservice to themselves by not learning certain materials, then perhaps we ought to look instead at what we are doing to help them learn the materials.

Now that we have convinced you that some of your students are cheating, can you spot the cheaters? Can you use your own personal dislikes and prejudices to place people into categories that you really have no evidence that they belong in. "That person looks so dumb that he must be cheating." "Most people of that race cheat." "He was held back in an earlier grade, so he is probably cheating." Instead, why dont we just truly care about every student in the room. Why not spend a little time getting to know their habits and quirks. Why do we offer our kids UNCONDITIONAL love, but these jerks have to pass a test.

Let's ask trick or loaded questions. Lets phrase them in such a way, so that the person taking the exam is likely to be confused and answer one way one time, and another way another time, proving that they are cheating. Furthermore, let's not tell them that we will be watching to see if there is cheating. In fact, let's leave the room and watch secretly through the window, instead of telling them honestly that you are there to moniter the test and to make sure that they don't copy the wrong answer from someone else's exam.

Let's give those who cheat, all the attention that we can muster, while totally disregarding the exceptional student. Let's reward only those who get the "A's" but not those whose grades have improved the most. Let's spend a lot of time telling what we are going to do to cheaters instead of spending time to talk about the importance of honesty and personal integrity.

Let's not even consider the amount of work we are giving to a pressured class. Let's just assign it and expect them to stay up into the middle of the night studying for the exam. Let's not consider how many of them have to have jobs to help their families pay the bills or for them to belong to all the costly extracurricular activities that seem so important. In fact, let's get them to take their work home with them, while we tell ourselves that it's ok to leave our work at school, instead of admitting that we have trouble keeping up with all the kids in class and all the work we have to grade so quickly. Let's not even admit that we might be giving them more than they can possibly do without cheating.

Lets tell them what we expect from them (including that a certain percentage will cheat), instead of listening to what they expect from themselves. We sure don't want to let them sign any kind of personal contract that might allow them to put in print what they have agreed to do with their abilities.

It seems to me, that unless schools start hiring behavioral counselors, the a lot of you are going to be the closest thing that a student ever gets to a counselor or a personal coach. You have in your hand the potential of a persons life. If we attend to it, in a postive way....if we expect nothing but the best....if we listen, and empathise...maybe, just maybe there will not be a need for a cheating proctor.

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