Last year, in the aftermath of the news about a runner who gave her Boston Marathon bib to a friend because she was unable to run the race, I discussed a topic that I am passionate about: cheating. It seems that no matter where we turn, we are surrounded by stories regarding cheating.
What many cheaters don’t realize is that the people that they are hurting most when they cheat are themselves. They are focused on finding immediate, short term solutions to whatever it is that they are trying to accomplish, whether that is cutting a course in order to finish a race quickly, taking an extra medal to give to somebody else, or running a race that they didn’t properly acquire a bib for. By just focusing on the short term, they often neglect to consider the long term effects of their decisions, which could include being banned from a particular race or race series.
Cheating is not just limited to the running scene. It is an ongoing issue that I have to deal with in the classroom with my students. When my students cheat, they are often only focused on the immediate impact of their actions, whether that is quickly completing an assignment before the deadline, trying to get the “right” answers on a test or a quiz, or avoiding putting in the effort to ethically complete a task. They aren’t looking at the long term impact of actually learning the academic material for the sake of learning it, and are often just completing tasks for the sake of getting a grade in the gradebook. However, when students cheat, they haven’t actually “earned” that grade in the gradebook. And as I often have to remind my students, grades are earned by them, not given to them.
It is certainly difficult to expect students to make ethical decisions when they live in a society where they are constantly surrounded by cheating. Instances of cheating have become so prevalent that it is almost the norm. This is incredibly sad. Even if somebody doesn’t get caught the first time that they cheat, it is more than likely that they will get caught at some point, and could face some potentially harsh consequences that could impact their life in ways that they didn’t even imagine.
What ever happened to hard work and earning what you’re after, whether that’s a grade, a fast finish time, or the chance to run a particular race? Putting forth 100% effort, but not 100% succeeding, is much more admirable than cutting corners in order to check a box off.
Often times I hear the excuse “Everybody else is doing it” as justification for making unethical choices. Just because it might seem this way doesn’t mean that cheating is the right thing to do. And just because it might seem like everybody has joined a bandwagon, does that mean you should automatically jump onto it? Instead, make decisions for yourself and focus on doing what’s right instead of what others are doing.
QOTD: Which school of thought are you in: always do the right thing, or cheat the system and hope you don’t get caught?