January 28, 2012

Do we encourage our students to cheat?

I've seen more cheating this school year than I have in the last few years combined. It seems that every other day I find a handful of students copying a peer's homework or a worksheet that is supposed to be some sort of study guide for a test.

When I inquire about this "borrowing" of other student's work, I'm usually given a strange excuse like, "Oh Mrs. so-and-so doesn't mind; it's just for review." I don't even want to know if this is true, as that would lead to an entirely different topic.

As I stroll around my study hall, I sometimes ask students about the homework or other activities they're working on, curious about what their traditional teachers are assigning. I may ask a student, "What's the purpose of this assignment?" Occasionally, I get a reasonable answer; others, I get a shrug and an, "I don't know."

If the activity is so ill-conceived that the student has no idea of its value, what incentive does he have to complete it?

Don't bad activities and homework encourage students to cheat?