Cheating for Students

by talkbackty on Nov 4, 2011

This is the another post in my Zen and the Art of Teaching series. Check out them all here.

Every teacher approaches things in a different fashion. I don't mean to be all-encompassing and over-generalizing. This is how I feel, but I believe it's how a great number of people feel as well. This is partly to let you know you're not alone, and partly to remind myself that neither am I.

Teachers don't care about a student’s grade.

They care what a student learns, they care if a student is better educated when they leave the classroom, and they care about a student's health and well-being. None of that has anything to do with a student's grade. Which is why it is so easy to cheat for students.

If day in and day out a teacher sees how a student behaves and works, they know if a student is getting the material or not. Then test time comes around and the kid does terribly. We know he is smart, we know he is capable, we know he understands the material. So why not bump him from a D to a C?

People's gut reaction is, "That's unfair. It is giving special treatment to a small group of students."

Life's not fair. People, teachers included, know this instinctively. We know people get treated differently, we see it all the time in our work or professional lives. There is little, if anything, fair about the world. So fairness isn't a priority in our mind.

To add insult to injury, we know everything is a little silly. The only teacher's who believe their material, tests, homework is important to a student's livelihood are the ones who take themselves too seriously. I do not take myself seriously.

I don't mean to imply that I'm not a professional or not serious about my students’ education. I am both. That doesn't mean I take myself seriously. I was a class clown in high school, rarely did homework, and aced most tests. Years after high school, I turned out alright.

Here's the truth. Adults don't know what they are doing. We are just as lost and confused as teenagers. There is no moment of revelation that comes bestowing adults with untold knowledge; unlocking the mysteries of the universe. Adults make just as many mistakes, if not more, than teens; most likely, because we have more decisions to make than teenagers.

The difference is that some adults forget how dumb they really are. They come to believe that because they've been doing one thing a certain way for 15, 20, or 50 years that now they know something about life. They do not. We do not. I do not.

This is why when true innovators come along, people who actually perceive the world differently than everyone else, we are blown away. Steve Jobs, Gandhi, Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Jesus Christ. All of them blew us away with their views on life, their tenacity, their innovative way of looking at mankind. By this comparison, I only mean to point out the inherit ability of different individuals to change the world simply by having a different outlook.

Those people are the exception, not the rule for adults. Most are followers, nothing more than mindless sheep that wake up and do the same thing every single day. When a person begins to realize how silly everything is, they can not take themselves seriously. They know that a test is not a reflection of a student's intelligence, not a measurement of how they will do in life and not anything more than an inadequate tool that has been used for far too long.