Fiscally nuts. Socially insane.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Could Have Told You That!

Yahoo: In the past year, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are too apathetic about ethical standards.

The first number is probably spot on. The second is just wrong. 64% surveyed admitted to cheating on a test. 99% have. That's a promise. I wrote an editorial about this a few weeks ago for the Minuteman. It was published, but it didn't make it onto the website, so I'll copy and paste it here:
School Scope: Cheating, Who Me? No…

Fairfield students, it seems, tend to consider cheating an acceptable means to an important collegiate end. That is, until they are asked if they ever have used such tactics. At this point, the response usually comes after a brief pause, and the student says, “Me? No, no way.”

Students interviewed for this article all spoke on the condition of anonymity, and even then refused to admit ever participating. But someone is doing it, because all students report that a “large majority of [high school] students” cheat to improve their GPAs. One student, a senior at Warde, said, “Almost everyone cheats, or will cheat, at some point in high school; kids recognize that to keep the playing field even, they need to do what other kids are doing.” But, alas, when the student was asked if he had ever cheated, he responded with, “No, I don’t do that.”

A recent New York Times editorial by Ms. Maura J. Casey reports that a study found 90% of high school students employ tactics generally considered cheating. How the study’s supervisor, Dr. Donald McCabe, managed to coax students out of their shell is beyond me, but the results are not surprising. A junior at Fairfield Prep said, “If I hear that a kid I know cheated on a test or something, it doesn’t at all change how I feel about him,” and he added, “I guess I’m kind of immune to it by now.”

The idea of apathy raised by this student seems to be a universal notion. An upperclassman at Ludlowe lamented about how her views on cheating changed over their high school career; “Freshman year, I would never even consider cheating as an option, but now, I can see why people do it; it is sort of just another way to get ahead.” But, again, the student refused to actually claim personal participation.

If no students see any conflict with cheating, why do they refuse to say they are involved? Students cite it as a high school phenomenon sweeping the nation that just happens to have excluded them. The answer is simple; students innately know it is wrong; they just do it anyway. They have developed a sense of apathy towards that side of morality because they see their future as far more important. The collegiate competition is more competitive than it ever has been, and students are willing to do what is necessary to compensate and be successful. “Why give up an opportunity now,” the thought is, “and miss out on a better one later?” It isn’t hurting anyone, and the kindergarten mantra that “it hurts no one but yourself” is something students find themselves remarkably capable of living with. But students know that what happens in the classroom now stays in the classroom, and that people on the outside, “wouldn’t understand,” so they protect their reputation.

So Fairfield is a town of cheaters. But then again, America is a nation of cheaters, according to Dr. McCabe’s study. Everyone cheats to get ahead. Everyone, that is, except for me.


TAO said...

Lets say we agree on the concept that the reason young people cheat is because of the pressure to be successful in the future.

Nothing else matters except success in the future and of course good grades are the only measurement of success today in preparation for that future.

Then why do children spend so much time participating on social media sites? Why do they spend so much time playing videos? Why do they love to tax pictures of themselves with their cellphones to broadcast around the internet?

Its not because of a desire to be successful in the future...its because the future is actually irrelevant.

The truth of the matter is they cheat because it is easier than studying.

They steal because it is easier than asking ones parents for money.

Its not about getting ahead but rather about getting by.

Will Conway said...

Interesting point. Not to be condescending, but I think it is assumed people cheat so they don't have to study. You make a valid point, though, in saying that it may not just be about getting ahead, but getting by. I think it's probably some combination of the two.

Regarding the social networking sites, I don't really see the connection. I'm not saying kids don't have lives anymore and the pressure is too much to bare - in fact, I think I'm more saying that moral standards have dropped significantly - facebook and myspace can play right into this

TAO said...

I am sure the kids today believe they are getting ahead by cheating but realistically how far ahead are you going to get if you are constantly finding shortcuts to true achievement?

It might explain alot of the bigger picture issues we see today. It is easier to get along and go with the flow....

It also is probably easier to cheat now because some teachers realize that their pay and their performance is measured by standardized testing.

The point about social media is the time aspect and how much one is focussed on it. School is no longer the single focus of a young person's life. At one time young people found schools to be the center of just about most of everything in their lives and now schools are competing for their attention amongst the social networks and all of that.