by Simran V '11

Think Twice Before Cheating

Sitting in class, you have an extraordinarily hard test in front of you. Not knowing the answers, you just took a little peek at your neighbor’s answers. You copy them quickly, hoping that your neighbor knew what he or she was saying. You get your test back a few classes later and have gotten those answers right. But you don’t really deserve those answers. According to Olga Lucia Botero from Columbia University, “in the short term, maybe you won’t be caught, and you will get good grades without studying, which sounds fantastic, but you are wasting your time and your money trying to ‘learn’ by cheating.” I am pretty sure you have cheated at least once and even if you haven’t, you can still relate. After I surveyed some people about whether or not they have cheated on tests, most claimed to cheating at least once. So what compels all these students in high school to cheat?
One student stated that she cheated on a test because the teacher was a horrible teacher. So she never really learned anything in his class. Another student claimed that, on a different test she cheated because “the questions were way too hard and the teacher cannot teach at all.” You may consider this a biased perspective of students, but most actually blame teachers for not teaching the correct material. You cannot teach one thing in class and expect students to know something else for the test. One student stated that the teacher asked them to analyze something they had barely gone over in class. It went way beyond their expertise. The same student felt that it was not their fault they “had to resort to cheating. So [they] didn’t feel bad about cheating.”
This brings up another point. Should you feel bad about cheating? According to each person I asked, you should feel bad. Those that cheated admitted to feeling bad about it. But one student also claimed that if she wanted to pass, she had to compromise her morals. Sure cheating will get you good grades, but you don’t deserve the grade you got. You stole someone else’s work and claimed you somehow came to such an answer. One student who says that she has never cheated says that she hasn’t because “if [she] cheated on a test and got a 100, [she] would like it, but [she] didn’t get it on [her] own. So it didn’t matter if [she] got the 100 because it’s not like it represented [her] knowledge.”
Contributing to the same argument, another student says that it isn’t fair “someone else takes credit for [her] hard work… [She] deserves the credit more than them.” Cheating is plagiarizing in many ways. You are taking something and calling it your own, even though it had nothing to do with you own thought process. One student claims that “cheating is only ‘stealing’ when you are doing it without the other person knowing.” So if they know you are cheating and they still let you copy their answers, it is okay to cheat. At least that is what most would agree with since its like giving your consent and saying its okay to steal the other person’s answers.
A student claims that she only copies off of friends because she knows they won’t rat her out. So it may just be peer pressure. Will your friends get mad at you if you don’t let them copy off of you? According to the surveys I gave, some people would get mad at their friends if they didn’t let them copy, but all agreed that if they were true friends, they’d get over it. You aren’t true friends with someone to steal their answers on that test you have next week. Although most claim that it’s a teacher’s fault for not teaching them correctly, they also claim they have been lazy in studying. One student claims he just doesn’t study for tests and instead of studying, he plays video games and just watches TV and such. Literally, every person I talked to claimed that they felt too lazy to study. So, we may just be a generation of slothful kids.
I guess you could come up with lots of back up for that argument; however there are so many other things to do besides studying. Looking at the amount of homework and tests each teacher gives, it makes students think that the teachers don’t know that they have 7 or so other classes that they have homework from, as well. The only reason we work hard in school is to get ahead in the future. Getting ahead involves extra-curricular activities, as well. Extra-curricular activities involve spending more time at school. So, now that you are spending more time doing work at school, “you just don’t have the strength to put in that extra effort. It is really tiring some days,” says a student. When are we supposed to relax? We aren’t robots and our batteries cannot be recharged in an instant. We don’t have time for all of it because of the amount of pressure that is put on us. That’s what it is. Pressure. The pressure to do well, the pressure to succeed, the pressure to get good grades, the pressure not to look stupid, the pressure not to fail, the pressure to get into college and most of all, the pressure to feel good about ourselves. Regardless of whether you have cheated or not, that good grade makes you feel proud of yourself (even if you feel you don’t deserve it). This pressure has made cheating occur more times than not.
Think twice before cheating, though. The short term consequences may seem marvelous. However in long term, think about how much knowledge you gained from copying that person’s answers on the test. Not much, right? So, long term, you aren’t learning anything. According to physics teacher, Mr. Hofer, “when someone cheats, they are lying about their abilities. While some would argue – ‘It’s only a HS test’ – this can start one down a path of cheating more and more.  So let’s take the worst-case scenario: cheats in HS, gets better grades, gets into a better college, cheats in college, gets a degree in a field without sufficient knowledge that is really needed for that field, gets a job based on degree and due to that insufficient knowledge, people get hurt/die.” It is better to be true to yourself about the knowledge you have, because as much as you think you are fooling the teacher with your copied answers, you’re only really fooling yourself.


By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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