Who is failing at teaching our young men and women that it is dishonest to cheat? Is it our teachers, their parents or the environment?
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It has to be everyone.
I would argue that it is mostly the environment, though. I do not think that the average parent gets all that many opportunities to talk to a student about what is and is not plagiarism. This is something that they get much more from their environment. They are exposed to people using other people's work (like with rap artists sampling songs). They are exposed to "file sharing." They are in an environment where copy and paste is so easy. This makes it much more likely they will cheat.
Parents and teachers bear some responsibility, but I think that it is mostly the environment that makes it seem okay to cheat. Parents and teachers have to work to destroy that perception.
We are failing as a society overall and it begins in the home with parents. Children do not have any concept today of respecting their parents so they aren't going to have any concern or clue how to treat one another or other adults. Parents also are not modeling repsonsible work ethic therefore the children don't have anyone in the home to look up to and make proud. They expect everything to be handed to them and parents even get offended when their children are expected to learn.
I feel that most of this problem with society is that it is too easy to get on assistance and stay on it forever. I completely support programs that help people when they're in time of need. I have a problem when families get every kind of assistance possible and not one person in the house has a job. Unfortunately I can point out the problem but do not have a solution to "fix" the rut that we've dug ourselves into. Apparently any of my suggestions are illegal such as turning off people's reproductive abilities until they are responsible citizens and have taken parenting classes.
I hope and pray everyday that what I am teaching my children at home and in the classroom daily will make a difference. I have learned from experience (but of course don't say it like this to my students) that most parents don't parent effectively but they can change the path of their lives. I am a firm believer that it all starts and ends with love and education.
Cheating is fundamentally wrong, however, the only thing we can do on term papers is ask for references and follow up by actually checking them out. I also tell my students that I know the "tone" of their writing and can easily see when they haven't written a paper. As for tests, all you can do is be vigilant and follow up with whatever punishment you have in place--loss of points, a zero, etc. I find it said that some students have no concept that it is wrong, or think it is funny, especially when there are so many standardized tests, like Regents and SAT's that they have to take to graduate high school and move on to college.
At the beginning of the year and prior to all major assignments I advise the students that I will zero out any grade if I find them cheating. I also add that if a student knowingly allows another student to copy their work I will zero their grade as well. I always have a few takers who want to try their luck but they soon find out I am serious about cheating. It spreads like wildfire that I don't tolerate any type of dishonesty in my class and most students will not even try to cheat.
I have to fault our society as a whole because the media always has a story about someone lying, cheating or stealing and often times they are not punished or its a mere "slap on the wrist". Many of my students will talk about how their parents are cheating the system somehow or even those students who are in the country illegally -- when we allow the rule of law to be diminished in any manner it send a message to our children that its ok to break the rules - lie, steal, cheat -- so long as you don't get caught.
The problem has not changed that much; only the access to materials which make it easier for students to cheat. I was once told that a locked door only keeps an honest man honest; a thief will get in one way or another. The same is true of cheating. The student who is predisposed to cheat, whether from laziness, desperation, or simply bravado, will find a way. My own experience has been that students who cheat know that their parents will believe any tall tale they come home with, and invariably blame the teacher. As long as parents continue to defend their children regardless of the circumstances, they lend themselves to their child's disposition to be dishonest.
I have on occasion had instances of otherwise decent students who from lapse of judgment plagiarized published works. When I confronted them I have not only zeroed the paper, but also insisted that they inform their parents and or coach/ROTC instructor of their misstep. I also make them hand write a 500 word essay on the importance of honesty and how they failed in that regard. For the otherwise honest student, this seems to work wonders.
Each student's reasons for cheating could vary and therefore, the "blame" could fall on any of the above mentioned parties. Teachers must teach what constitutes plagiarism and must be vigilant in following through on whatever their policy is about cheating. As a teacher, if I suspect cheating but don't do anything about it, I am complicit in the cheating. Students whom I have confronted offer any number of excuses: ran out of time; didn't understand the task; didn't know they were technically plagiarizing; parental pressure to do well; etc. There is no band-aid that will solve this problem, but as teachers, the "buck has to stop" with us. We are the keepers of that gate in regards to honesty in our classrooms. It isn't always an easy job.
Cheating and plagiarism are pervasive for any number of reasons, and all of the above suggestions play their part. Whenever I have discovered a student cheating and confronted him or her about it, I get any number of excuses: ran out of time, didn't understand what to do, parental pressure to succeed, didn't realize he was plagiarizing etc. No matter what the excuse, the "buck has to stop" with the teacher. If we suspect cheating, we have to take the time to investigate and then talk to the student. When we don't, we are complicit in the cheating. It isn't always the easiest thing to do, and it is not what we went into teaching to do, but it is part of what we teach. We are the final gate-keepers of academic honesty in our classrooms no matter what the cause.
I have to agree with the posts that look at the lack of honesty and integrity in our society. Illegal music downloads are one example, and when parents permit this or turn a blind eye to it, it implicitly says that it's okay. Teachers are sometimes just as bad with regard to their own work. Several male teachers at our school are in a advanced degree program together. Within full hearing of students I heard one of them say, "I found an example of the paper on the internet. All we have to do is change a few things and put our name on it." Whatcha' gonna' do?
I have to agree that it's an amalagamation of things. Parents who allow or ignore illegal music downloads are implicitly showing that cheating is okay. At the same time, some teachers in their own work show dishonesty. In our district, several male teachers are in an advanced degree program together. Within full hearing of students one of the gentlemen said, "I found an example of the paper on the internet. All we have to do is change a few things and put our names on it."
I think most of it comes from the environment that is created where there is only one right answer, kids are forced to take classes they don't like, told that their real interests aren't important or useful, and then we add in a heavy workload and wonder why they would try to find ways around it?
Look at how society rewards those who cheat or find ways to get around rules and regulations. What do we expect now that we've modeled schools along those same lines?
It is very important that students know exactly what plagiarism means. I have discovered that many students think that plagiarism is nothing more than copying another person's work word for word. They have not been taught how to research properly and then list the references that were used. Teachers need to be very precise when explaining to students what it means to plagiarize. It also wouldn't hurt to put this information in writing and send it home for parents to read as well. They may also be misinformed.
I'd say it's mostly the environment as well. In today's society, you have to be willing to do almost anything to get ahead, whether it means cheating or otherwise. Coupled with the fact that many people don't want to work hard any more, and you get more and more people cheating.
The hardest question of all is "What do/can we do about it?"
If cheating is a byproduct of societal changes and attitudes (as many previous posts have suggested and I agree), are we as educators in positions that empower us to change the entire direction of society? If cheating is allowed by family members/role models who intentionally do likewise themselves (music downloads, etc.), do schools have the influence to train students to do otherwise? In most cases, I suspect not.
I love being an idealistic teacher who is out to change the world, one student at a time, but I am deeply concerned about the trends I see around me and how they may play out in the future. I fear that all the idealism in the world will not be enough to counteract the attitudes and actions I see becoming disturbingly widespread in our culture.
I would have to agree with #2: it is everyone. Behaviors are compounded by the more times the behavior goes punished or not punished. Given that atmosphere plays a large role in behavior, it can be assumed that if a behavior goes unchecked at home, many may think it will go unchecked and be okay outside of the home. Teachers, try as we may, are unable to catch many cheating infractions. Therefore, the students gets away with it and, then, believes it is okay given they were not caught.
I can remember an advertisement which depicted cheating in the commercial which seemed, to me, to promote the behavior. This is not unlike the influence that other social medias have over impressionable people.
So, if students see their parents cheating on anything, get away with cheating by teachers (or so they think), and see cheating popularized in the media they are being "shown" that it is okay.
Cheating has become a societal problem. I think that parents and teachers do tell the kids not to cheat, but when it comes down to it the child will do whatever it takes to get the work done and get a grade. It's acceptable within the child's community.
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