Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Cheating from the Starting Line"

Today, in class we had a lecture on neuroscience from Vicky, one of our TAs who is an upcoming junior at Brown. We then broke into our discussion groups to discuss Thinking in Pictures, a book about Temple Grandin and autism. This was definitely a much harder read than The Quiet Room since I was able to try and connect with Lori Schiller on a more emotional level. Parts of Grandin's memoir were interesting, but after a while, it seemed extremely repetitive and just explained the disorder like a textbook. I would've liked to read more personal accounts, rather than the facts about autism. Hopefully I will be able to get into the book more as I read it. We then heard two presentations from our classmates. I thought they were great and definitely helped me since I will be presenting my study, The Power of Conformity, on Wednesday.

However, the most interesting part of the class today was actually the homework. We had to read two articles, but the one I could related to more was “Cheating from the Starting Line.” It was basically about how more and more students are beginning to cheat and why. Two schools, Horace Mann and Stuyvesant, were mentioned in the article for having the most money and some of the best resources. Even with all these advantages, the students still go to great lengths in order to receive a good grade in class. From forcing tutors to do their work to asking doctors to write notes for medical illnesses, this article showed me how students will not stop until they achieve their goals. I was a bit surprised, but at the same time, I wasn't. Although my parents may not push me as hard as these kids, I still want the best grades I can receive. Thus, of course there will always be a small part of me that thinks it would be so much easier to look over someone else's shoulder or get a note from my doctor in order to receive more time on a test. However, I resist giving into these temptations because I know in the long run, it would only hurt instead of help me. I started to become irritated because even with all these rich, top-rated schools with all the best resources the students continue to use technology (with the internet, e-mail, and even calculators) to avoid work. I go to one of the low-rated schools in my area, and reading an article like this makes me even more frustrated. I feel the wealthier teens in the world should embrace the blessings they have at their prestigious schools because there are other kids who do not have the same resources. It's infuriating to know I must work ten times harder in order to compete when these teens simply weasel their way through school. However, now I also feel motivated to strive. In the end, dishonesty only hurts the cheater.  


Charles Tillman Ramsey said...

A very insightful and thoughtful post. Your writing and analysis are picking up. The way that you are constructing your thought and putting together your sentences are great. I can follow all of your points and they are stricking arguments. Yes, we come from a struggling and working class community that has multiple challenges and you see that we have to work even harder because we have fewer resources, nonetheless, it is important that you and others never give up.

Integrity and a positive dose of self-esteem are important. Reading your comments makes it clear that you understand the value of having both and that you will not waver in your beliefs.

Yes, it is outrageous and terrible that people will do anything to succeed. However, as you stated, it will only hurt them in the long run. This is why we challenge all by having you blog, attend multiple events and pick before large adult audiences. We want each of you to be ready and the only way is to instill rigor into the ILC program. I hope that you feel that we have accomplished our mission.

One last question, how would you compare UPENN to Brown? I know that you mentioned that you would apply to both and I am curious about what that looks like for you. Please take me through your analyis and provide me your thoughts.

By the way, it appears that yesterdays lecture was moving and insightful.

Enjoy your day.

Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
School Board Member
West Contra Costa
Unified School District

Charles T. Ramsey

Don Gosney said...


We're developing a culture in the US where the means justify the ends. As long as we win, it doesn't matter how we win.

There are plenty of case studies even from schools in our own community wherein the vast majority of students will justify their own cheating because everyone else is cheating and this just levels the playing field.

They'll use electronic devices, steal tests, hire professional test takers, sabotage other students and even threaten and bribe as long as they can get a better score. A better score means familial praise, recognition amongst your peers and that invitation from the prestigious school. Never mid that it's all false and sooner or later someone's going to notice that your dumber than a box of rocks. All they care about is the instant gratification and praise.

It's winning at any cost.

Is it any wonder that we see so many athletes--at every level--who get juiced so they can be crowned as the best?

How do we break this cycle, Courtney?

I don't expect you to answer, at least not on a world wide blog site, but what would it take for you to cheat? If you knew that there was absolutely no way anyone would find out, would you cheat and walk the straight and narrow path? Most people would respond that they would never cheat even though they've either cheated or see nothing really wrong with cheating.