All of My Favorite Students Cheat, writes Christopher Doyle, who’s taught for 25 years, in Education Week.
They copy homework (the most frequent form of dishonesty), crib on tests (second-most-favored tactic), and lift text from the Internet (either verbatim or with minor changes in wording). There have been a few outliers who refuse to engage in it. Ironically, I encounter them most often in so-called “lower level” classes.
Six years ago, he started teaching at a suburban, upper-middle-class, high-achieving public high school.
One of my students lifted three paragraphs from my own review of a book assigned in advanced-placement U.S. history class. He took the review from a website, ignored my name on the byline of the journal in which it appeared, and pasted it into his essay. I caught three other plagiarists that first year, but no one else was so brazen (or maybe he was just in a hurry).
Savvy students denigrate that plagiarist. “It’s stupid to get caught taking things from the Internet,” one told me. “No one should be doing that” because it lacks subtlety. They rationalize other forms of cheating as more acceptable. Some claim thoughtless pedagogy justifies their own copying of homework. “We aren’t going to respect teachers who give us photocopied worksheets as ‘busywork.’ We’re not going to waste our time doing that.” Others assert they are “sticking it to the man,” who makes them overwork. Still others say that “as long as we do well on the tests, the homework doesn’t matter.” Grades are “the bottom line.”
Doyle’s students believe they need to get into a prestigious college and therefore need to get excellent grades in AP classes, while piling up extracurricular activities and taking SAT prep classes. They can’t do it all without cheating.
Yet they do feel guilty about it, Doyle writes. They want to succeed without cheating, but don’t believe they can.