Coming to a Classroom Near You: The Cheating Narrative
Cheating is epidemic in American society. Just take look at our public figures, for heaven’s sake: Cheating seems to be a prerequisite for the governorship of New York whether you're coming or going; cheating helped curious Georgey win the presidency in 2000; bad dog Bill cheated on Hillary; and just recently Hillary attempted to cheat the media with her Bosnia “fairy tale,” got caught, and subsequently received yet another zero for this latest pathetic attempt at creative campaigning.
So it should come as no surprise that while American students might not excel in certain academic subjects, they more oftentimes than not exceed standards when it comes to cheating. And every teacher, instructor, and professor, I’m sure, has a treasure trove of stories about cheating, about those who cheat, and about how they struggled to maintain their sanity when confronting those who cheat but who also pretend NOT TO know that they cheated. Mind boggling, I know.
On the high school level, cheating is a constant in the cult of adolescent personality. And generally speaking, the “cheating” narrative ascribes to the following plot points:
1. The cheater knowingly cheats regardless of being warned a 1.000 times.
2. The cheater usually can’t help make it obvious that s/he has cheated; in short, s/he is seldom “good” at it.
3. When caught, the cheater immediately PRETENDS NOT TO KNOW THAT s/he cheated.
4. Denial sets in.
5. The cheater then finds some lame-a## way to blame the teacher, instructor, or professor.
6. The crying game happens—and I’m not referring to the film of the same name.
7. At this point, the narrative goes one or two ways:
a. The cheater recognizes the obvious: s/he has been INCREDIBLY stupid, got caught, and SHOULD NOT do this again, although chances are s/he will.
b. The cheater CAN’T abandon a win at this point and thus resorts to the ultimate act of desperation: S/he brings in a parent as a "special operations" cheerleader, as an enabler of sorts, as the ultimate “character” witness.
I regret to inform you that choice “b” is the preferred choice of cheaters and their cheating parents, which brings me to my major point: How can we educators ever expect to stop cheating when parents blindly pass on their cheating behaviors to their children whom they are cheating out of some sort of moral growth and development?