It’s great time to be a Fat American high school student. Not only does your history get rewritten into a more conservative- and Jesus-palatable version by the Texas State Board of Education, but you get to have all the benefits of cheating without the guilty feelings of cheating…mostly because you don’t actually view cheating as cheating. Seriously.
Our friends (read: random strangers) at U.S. News & World Report put out a story Thursday that shows just how big the disconnect is between what kids today (those kids today!!!) think is right and what’s actually right. To the piece, which is nothing short of depressing and sadly not at all surprising:
[A new] study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln gauged both the prevalence and perceptions of cheating among high-school students. It found the practice is widespread and many students carry misperceptions about academic dishonesty, and also identified patterns among students that may help teachers stop it.
So what exactly did the students think was cheating and what wasn’t? Glad you asked!
The results suggested that in some ways, students had clear views of what constituted cheating—not that it stopped them from doing it. For example, 89 percent said glancing at someone else’s answers during a test was cheating, but 87 percent said they’d done that at least once. Also, 94 percent said providing answers to someone during a test was cheating—but 74 percent admitted to doing it.
Other behaviors weren’t as cut-and-dried in students’ minds. Surprisingly, only 47 percent said that providing test questions to a fellow student who had yet to take a test was academically dishonest, and nearly seven out of 10 admitted to doing so.
Oh brother. In the risk of sounding like an old fart: How exactly is giving a fellow student the exact questions that appear on an exam he’s about to take not cheating?
“The results suggest that students’ attitudes are tied to effort. Cheating that still required students to put forth some effort was viewed as less dishonest than cheating that required little effort,” Kiewra said.
So let me see if we have this right: Guy leaves his car unlocked in a Wal-Mart parking lot (because let’s be honest), leaves his iPhone on the driver’s seat. You, “Fat American Student A,” pass the car and see the iPhone in the seat. You try the door. It’s unlocked. You take the iPhone.
Is Fat American Student A more or less guilty for stealing the phone because some fuckwad didn’t lock his Nissan 280ZX? Yes, the situation is inherently flawed; no one who owns a 280ZX would also own an iPhone, but c’mon! The scenario is still good. No need to break balls over particulars.
The answer is: Duh, he should have locked his car! It’s the Nissan owner’s fault. Jimmy Nussenbaum only provided me with the questions but I still had to look up the answers! The answers that I could easily find because I had the questions! How is that cheating?
Anyway, the rest of the piece is no less astounding.
The study showed:
- Sixty-two percent said doing individual take-home tests with a partner was cheating (51 percent said they’d done so);
- Just 23 percent said doing individual homework with a partner was dishonest (91 percent had done so); and
- Only 39 percent said writing a report based on the movie instead of reading the book wasn’t cheating (53 percent had done so).
The results suggest that out-of-class misdeeds are viewed less harshly than in-class cheating, Kiewra said—a dynamic that is likely caused by teacher monitoring in class, and, therefore, a greater risk of getting caught.
That’s right! It’s only cheating if you get caught. Married friends, take note.
Look. We know that kids are kids. Which is to say, stupid. And hopefully they’ll grow out of it. But it’s hard to grow up and take responsibility for yourself when every piece of culture emphasizes the benefits of short-term gratification rather than long-term…anything.
We don’t have a solution here other than making all white people take a mandatory “Stop your bitching” class, so what do we know? The youth of America: Our future. Huzzah!