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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Whole Lotta Cheatin' Goin' On.

The sense of entitlement amongst a portion of the youth of today is absolutely astounding. The usual examples of this include: kids getting angry at the teacher because they failed or got zeros on assignments they didn't do or tests they didn't study for. They get angry if you tell them you're sorry, but you've run out of spare pencils/paper/books. They get angry if you catch them cheating or copying...

What happened to good old fashioned shame, if not responsibility? Perhaps the anger is misdirected at us when they may, in fact, be angry with themselves or their providers at home; but it gets quite draining when we feel the targets of their rude and angry outbursts.

This year has revealed the largest number of instances of copying/cheating in the 9th grade we have seen in the past number of years. One of my students felt the drive to copy so instinctively, I had to completely isolate him from others to stop him from doing it. For a week or so, he sat in my room about an hour a day not knowing what to do, but eventually started doing some of the work himself and grew to be quite proud of his own ability and intellect. He's now back in the general population and... Okay, so he still steals other kids' stuff like a kleptomaniac, but at least he's getting some of his own school work done himself. (I always think in terms of small victories.)

Today, our team leader brought up the concern of copying up with our kids during his history class with them. His tone was even, not in the least bit accusatory to any single individual, and very sincere in our worry that these guys will fail the graduation test because they haven't absorbed the information due to frequent copying and cheating. You would think he told them they had to sacrifice their firstborn! They became furious and insisted that if the other person lets them copy, it's okay. Stunned at their response, he at first tried to explain his reasoning and then simply said "Are you seriously trying to make a case for cheating?" They didn't see it as wrong AT ALL. They ended with an "agree to disagree" tone in their voice to end his lecture.

I'm kinda scared. These kids really believe this is the real world. Okay, I'm sure a bunch of successful people can say they got where they were with a little bit of underhandedness, but these guys probably wouldn't even breathe if the smart kid next to them wasn't doing it first for them to copy. These are the same kind of kids who walk down the middle of the road and then give you a dirty look when you try to drive. Where did this come from? Who taught them their only contribution to this world needs to be their mere existence? What on Earth can we do with kids like that who really don't seem to understand they have to actually DO SOMETHING to deserve rewards?

I get a horrible feeling they're in for an unpleasant surprise when they get into the real world that doesn't give second, third, fourth, or infinite chances, that doesn't let them off with a verbal warning, that doesn't accept late work with little to no consequence, that doesn't tolerate tardiness on a daily basis, that doesn't provide the materials for the job every day because they don't bring their own, that doesn't tolerate racist comments and behavior, and especially when their parents can't get them out of trouble by going over the teachers heads to administrators who are sick of getting bad press in the community.

I wish these kids could face a little more reality... I wish we could give it to them without being dinged for having too many failing grades or hurting too many feelings.

They're the ones who are being cheated here if they think the world is going to be as forgiving as we are.


Cairogal said...

Things must been changing. I was teaching a foundation English course in a small private uni in the UAE. Those kids cheated like banshees. I couldn't believe the shamelessness behind it. The smarter kids let them cheat to "help" them. I thought it was a regional/cultural thing at the time, but your post makes me think that changes in the way kids are raised and schooled is what's brought about this attitude.

And now? I'm heading back to the UAE this August to do it again! Am I crazy?

TeacherLady said...

You know, I keep hearing that the kids in the school I went to are acting worse and worse too... I know each generation thinks the next is nothing but a bunch of yahoos, but I really think there's a lot of truth to that.
I am willing to believe it transcends borders, we always went through our fads one step behind, if not alongside, the West!

Are you crazy? Well, I guess we all are because he keep doing the same thing and expecting different results! Nah, where there's a will there's a way. We'll adapt as the kids change and learn new ways to knock some damn sense into them! :)

Yee. Enjoy the heat and humidity. You always know you're there when you get of the plane and it feels like you've stuck your head in an oven.

Maher said...

In my point of view..Everyone Cheats! hmmm teachers be our uni copy paste questions from other sources and say they wrote it..does that count as cheating? i guess so!

Cairogal said...

When I was in uni (which was '90- '95)cheating even once could result in a long suspension, loss of paid fees, etc. We took it very seriously whether it was tests, papers,etc. I was teaching students who mainly came out of UAE government schools. They were not prepared in grades k-12 for the English they would need in university. Desperation was behind it for some of the students. Boys were worse than girls, overall. The girls seemed to have more of a guilty conscience when it came to getting caught. They also policed one another more than the boys.

As for copying and pasting, this is totally plagerism. I would have been kicked out of uni permanently for blatant plagerism. I didn't go to any special uni, either. Just your average state university.

I might be taking a job w/ the first teachers' college in the UAE, teacherlady. It's one of my options, and it's kinda exciting to be a part of that. As for the heat and humidity: Man, I've never known how hot one could really be after the sun went down. I do miss the weather from October-April, though.

Cairogal said...


TeacherLady said...

Maher, indeed we could get philosophical about it and explain how everything is based on a stolen idea! :) You need look no further than a lot of today's television programming to see proof of that! Teachers do an awful lot of begging, borrowing, stealing AND innovating, but I would hope that they don't claim credit for work that is not their own. That's the part I take issue with.

Cairogal, I always mess up the spelling for plagiarism unless I think long and hard about it. No worries. I was always kind of embarrassed at how most of my countrymen and women didn't always take their studies seriously because they had so been used to having everything handed to them on a silver platter... They were almost never the kids with the highest grades in the class, but it was a private school so their English was pretty damn good.

Oh I really wish I could be involved in something like that... It would be such an honor to be a part of a country's educational movement/expansion/reform... I'm hoping to acquire the knowledge and experience to be a part of something like that someday. In the meantime, I've got some little plans here and there.

Cairogal said...

TL: Do you have a Masters in Education yet? The MoHE in the uAE (and much of the Gulf) really stresses the requirement for the higher degree for those teaching at the post-secondary/tertiary level (not necessary for K-12). We should compare notes off the public forum some time. I'm sure we'd have lots to talk about!

PrincessPi said...

Thank you so much for writing that. I had much the same experience, only in my school, the administration looked the other way when it came to cheating. They figured if the kids were passing the regents exams, regardless of how they were passing, then their school is doing well. I walked in on an earth science regents once and saw the proctor leading the students to an answer.

Anyhoo...thanks. Glad to know I'm not the only one who's frustrated.

TeacherLady said...

PrincessPi, it IS frustrating because they're basically learning that they can get away with it! How stupid do we look as adults to say it doesn't work to cheat, when it obviously does?! It's sad to hope that they'll learn the lesson the hard way, but sometimes I do wish that. I have to believe that hard work is rewarded and cheats are punished, or else my naive idealistic world will unravel around me! :)