Tuesday, June 4, 2013

On Cheating

There is a post in Valerie Strauss' Washington Post Education Blog, "Why Schools Should Relax About Cheating." I wrote the following comment:

I think there is a difference between people collaborating after they have entered a specialized field and are looking to create solutions, and what happens in school where students are taking a range of course subjects and are in the process of learning things that are already known. That comment aside, let's also consider the roots of school cheating and how we actually teach children to cheat from a very early age. Cheating, by definition, involves a behavior that veers from the rules set by an authority. It the teacher puts the students in teams and tells them to work as a team, there is no cheating when they share answers. If the teacher defines calling a friend for help as an acceptable behavior, there is no cheating. From elementary school on, we distort the natural hierarchies by giving teachers excessive authority to make decisions about what should go on in the home. Teachers assign homework and parents are expected to support them. Keep in mind that parents are children's original teachers, starting long before their children went to school. Yet, the teacher can make decisions about what goes on in the home over the judgments of the parents. For children who have difficulty completing their assignments in a reasonable period of time, parents end up helping them, and often end up doing the work for them, not because they value cheating, but because they are at their wit's ends. The hierarchical distortions created by homework cause serious problems for many parents and sow the seeds for "cheating" being okay.

For more information on Dr. Goldberg's model, read other postings on this blog, visit his website, The Homework Trap, or read his book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers. 


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