On cheating and the school system

This is adapted from a response to a post on the blog of the esteemed Ben Orlin, who is awesome and who you should all read.

The wild card when talking about cheating is that students will often be in classes they don’t want to be in, don’t care about, and will probably never make use of again. But they need a good grade in that class to get into the college they want, or even graduate at all.

Look at the whole thing from that perspective – you’re there against your will, forced to do something you don’t want to for a reason you don’t care about and that probably won’t affect your life one way or the other once you’re finished with it.

We’ve admitted now that a lot of the anti-cheating arguments are poor or only apply in rare situations, but we’re afraid to take the next step and admit that students who cheat  at least sometimes have a very good reason, and little incentive NOT to. How on earth can you talk about the “morality” of cheating to a person who has essentially been blackmailed into doing whatever you want them to for an hour each day?

For a larger number of cases than we’d care to admit the only good reason not to cheat is the risk of getting caught.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to On cheating and the school system

  1. TomD says:

    Look at the whole thing from that perspective – you’re there against your will, forced to do something you don’t want to for a reason you don’t care about and that probably won’t affect your life one way or the other once you’re finished with it.

    This sounds like a description of life itself; and some decide to try cheating at that (sin).

  2. Joseph Moore says:

    In real life, asking for and giving help to others is being generous and a team player; in school, it’s cheating.

  3. John says:

    Ok, at first, my reaction to the idea of cheating being justified took me by surprise, and I have to admit that this is an interesting perspective with probably good arguments to support it as well.

    But still….cheating?Really?

    I guess this is because the American school system is by and large corrupt morally and practically difficult in all sorts of ways and is painfully arbitrary to many people.

    But there are still some parts that are salvagable at least. And European school systems do not have as many problems as the American one has and are actually much better than the American one.

    *sigh*

    Oh well, to each their own conscience I guess..

  4. Crude says:

    Sharp one. I never heard of this argument/objection, and I respect it.

  5. Cane Caldo says:

    The wild card when talking about cheating is that taxpayers will often be in tax brackets they don’t want to be in, don’t care about, and will probably never be see compensation. But they need to pay taxes to buy the house they want, or even own property at all.

    Look at the whole thing from that perspective – you’re paying against your will, forced to do something you don’t want to for a reason you don’t care about and that probably won’t affect your life one way or the other once you’ve paid it.

    For a larger number of cases than we’d care to admit the only good reason not to cheat is the risk of getting caught.

    • This is making the big assumption that the purpose of paying taxes and the purpose of going to school are the same.

      This is not true.

    • The school system is designed to separate children from families and create government drones. I’m not exaggerating or making this up. Our school system is explicitly based on a Prussian system designed for precisely that purpose.

      It is certainly not designed to help children gain knowledge in order to help them later in life.

      Let me put this a different way – Yes, pay your taxes. But do you actually think we should be taxed on some of the stuff we are? Is the government right for, say, taking our money and giving it to Planned Parenthood? If there were a way to avoid that from happening – even if technically illegal – should we not avoid it?

  6. Cane Caldo says:

    @MtC

    Hey man: We homeschool. The separated drones are one aspect. Alongside that there is also the modern conceit that learning is the act of stuffing facts into brains rather than learning how to learn.

    This is making the big assumption that the purpose of paying taxes and the purpose of going to school are the same.

    The assumption is that both schools and taxes are largely misdirected, have very few direct benefits, and are inconvenient. The other assumption is that those who rationalize cheating in one sphere will rationalize it in others. I picked taxes as a comparison, but I could have picked an unhappy marriage, welfare and charity, offerings, raising kids… the list is long.

  7. Cane Caldo says:

    @MtC

    You didn’t only talk about school. You started at schools, but ended up at principles:

    How on earth can you talk about the “morality” of cheating to a person who has essentially been blackmailed into doing whatever you want them to for an hour each day?

    • I’m talking about this in the context of the school system, which is designed for a completely different purpose than the tax system (or whatever you want to call it).

      Like the commenter above, you’re comparing two unlike things.

  8. Late to this, but why wouldn’t kids stuck at home schooled by mom be equally justified in cheating? It’s still forcing education on someone. And mom’s probably a lot easier to cheat. To say nothing of being even more justified. No one asks to be stuck at home utterly controlled by their parents for 12 years, especially parents who think their kids are at risk of becoming drones if they aren’t in just the pure perfect environment. Poor chilluns. Most kids, you see, are quite capable of forming a personality without risk of becoming automatons, no matter what the purpose of public schools.

    Amusing seeing all these people think they’re kind of too cool for being cynical, but in fact there’s nothing all that shocking about not judging kids for cheating, for observing that school is forced upon them. It’s always been forced upon them–that’s nothing new.

    • Hi ed, glad you found me.

      I became disillusioned with the whole damn field a long time ago, and I’ll try to respond more in depth later, but the first big mistake that sticks out to me – in fact, huge mistake – is that you’re comparing what the government is forcing children to do to what their own families are forcing them to do.

      The two aren’t even close to equal.

      I’m saying something much bigger than “I have sympathy for cheaters”. I’m saying “cheaters not only are people we should be sympathetic to, but in fact are correct in a fundamental way we don’t like to admit”.

      I don’t really know who the “all these people” are you’re referring to, but if you think I’m a hipster who wears dark sunglasses and preaches about how The Man keeps us down or whatever, you’ve got it wrong. I was going to be a teacher and backed out because the more I looked into it, the more I realized how messed up – fundamentally messed up – the education system really is.

      So this isn’t me going through an angry phase, and my other commenters – Joseph Moore especially, who has probably done enough research by now that he could write his own book on it if he ever chose to (I’m exaggerating but not by much), and I’m talking primary source reading – are probably not either the leftist black beret wearing protesters or the dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporters that you may think.

      • I wasn’t thinking anything other than oh, lord, here’s a bunch of education middlebrows.

        “is that you’re comparing what the government is forcing children to do to what their own families are forcing them to do.”

        Wrong. The government is forcing education on children. Parents can choose how that education is delivered. But the parent can’t opt to not educate the child at all. So the only difference between Mom and the school is delivery. Both are forcing government mandated instruction on the child.

        “I’m saying “cheaters not only are people we should be sympathetic to, but in fact are correct in a fundamental way we don’t like to admit”.

        Yeah, but you don’t want to think of yourself as some cool leftist black beret wearing protester, some ultra-cool hipster who’s got it all figured out. No, you just want to get it out there, cuz boyo, no one has thought before you that cheating is admirable.

        Anyone who thinks cheaters are sympathetic figures is basically saying “look! an inadequate person incapable of participating in society has figured out how to commit fraud!”

        Look at this poor slob, sayz Malcolm. “I can’t do the work, but they won’t let me out if I don’t do it. And somehow, I’m smart enough to figure out how to fool teachers into giving me a passing grade for content material I’m too stupid to learn.”

        And of course, there’s your fallacy: Kids who are incapable of doing the work are also not smart enough to cheat well enough to escape notice.

        Besides, cheaters aren’t correct at all. Cheating is a silly strategy for people who aren’t capable of doing the work.–and of course, they know that. Ayone who lacks the intellect to pass classes on merit has noticed long before you got around to considering the issue that they don’t have to cheat at all. All they have to do is show up every day, and continually refuse to do anything. That way they get a terrific social life, and eventually will be sent to an alternative school and click away at computers for online credits. That’s way more fun, not illegal, and you are guaranteed to pass that way, rather than risking expulsion if you get caught cheating.

        So we shouldn’t be sympathetic to cheaters, but rather explain to them that their strategy is foolish. Schlep around and do nothing.

        Unless you’re saying no, no, Ed. I’m talking about people who are smart enough to do the work but don’t want to, because they aren’t given a choice, so they’re going to cheat to guarantee themselves an A. That way, they can get an A, not do any work, and still get to college where they can continue lying, cheating, and get a degree so they can then do that to a boss for a job.

        I think the low chance of success of this strategy makes it pretty stupid, not anything to be sympathetic to, and if done by enough people in a particular class or demographic, gives you a shit awful reputation that results in discrimination. (Asians.) So no, not fundamentally correct.

        There’s a difference between not judging high school cheaters, which I don’t, and finding people who celebrate that behavior because they think it’s cool quite repellent.

      • I’ll respond in a full post.

    • I also think that if you don’t see the massive role public education has played in the breakdown of the family, you’re just sticking your head in the sand at this point.

    • Meanwhile, Ben Orlin has put up yet another home run!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s