Roger Ebert tweeted a reference to this article on KEKA’S BLOG (studentoffortune.com: Why study? Just steal the course!). I think it makes a perfect companion piece to the one I found and posted about on November 30, 2010 which you can still read here: The Shadow Scholar: The man who writes your students’ papers tells his story.
What makes these two articles a perfect back-to-back read ? It’s because one is written by the teacher who discovers the cheating, and is forced into hard decisions about how and whether to blow the whistle. The other is about one of the enablers: A man who makes his living by writing the material these cheating students use.
A university student once posed a tough question to me. She’s in a high-performance, high-stakes, competitive school. Many of the students use unprescribed ‘uppers’ — stimulants — in order to find the extra energy, wakefulness and alertness to get the grades they feel they need to compete. This student asked me if she should consider this strategy, and if it might be considered cheating.
My responses were, respectively, No (don’t do it; the health penalties aren’t worth it) and Yes (it’s as good as outright cheating, just as if an athlete was ‘doping’). She ended up writing a class paper on the topic of the ethics of academic stimulants, and I was proud of her take on it.
We live in a tough, competitive world, and we are often faced with classic cases of ‘situational ethics’. Cheating is wrong. Enabling cheating is wrong.
“Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat”: Would that it were always so.