The Harbinger Online

Editorial: At Your Fingertips

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Every day all throughout school it is evident that students are not upholding an honorable education. Instead, they choose dishonesty over integrity in order to achieve higher test scores and better averages by cheating.

Students don’t see following the honor code as a priority anymore; some don’t even realize the homework they are copying down in between passing periods is cheating. Honor codes are supposed to be self-regulating. It is a student’s job to make honesty a priority. Our generation has changed from students upholding and understanding the importance of the honor code to a school environment based around cheating themselves out of a honest education. Honor codes have lost their value, and we need to take action to restore honesty in education.

Telling a friend about what questions are on the test they are about to take is cheating. Sending or receiving pictures of a completed worksheet due the next day is cheating. Students see these acts of cheating as insignificant–– as long as they aren’t copying answers off someone’s test, then they think aren’t doing anything wrong.

While there are more obvious ways of cheating, such as looking at your lab partner’s scantron, mouthing numbers and letters back and forth with a friend or taking pictures of a completed test and sending it to someone who has to make it up, the cheating that is unconscious is just as unacceptable as blatantly cheating. Parents and teachers need to do a better job of outlining what cheating really means.

Cheating, both conscious and unconscious, has become relatively easy and more tolerated. It happens every single day in and outside of school, which is potentially detrimental to future generations. It happens too often to enforce the consequences that are in place for those who cheat.

Just because it might save you a few hours of studying or allow you to have a night out with friends, does that mean you should do it? The answer is no.

Academic dishonesty has consequences. You’ll get a zero on the Chemistry quiz you spent four hours studying for because your teacher saw you eyeing your lab partner’s scantron. Every sprint you pushed through is wiped away when you’re kicked off the soccer team. You’ll have one less achievement to add to your resume when you get blacklisted from joining NHS. You could lose thousands of dollars by being expelled from the college you had spent your life preparing for.

These consequences are nowhere near as severe as a zero on a quiz or having a meeting with your math teacher, but the repeated offences of cheating in high school will follow you to college, your first job and the rest of our life.

Cheating continues throughout high school and to college. In 2016, 85 students at Ohio State University were punished for collaborating on online exams, and for having one student complete the other students’ coursework in exchange for money. Punishments ranged from warnings to dismissals from the school.  In 2012, Harvard University investigated 125 students in what it called “the most widespread cheating scandal” in the school’s history. Harvard forced over half of the students involved to withdraw from the school.

The internet has enabled this world of cheating by allowing students to instantly connect with answers or works to plagiarize. By typing one question into Google, students are able to access multiple websites and pictures with the entire completed key.

Some students are lazy and aren’t driven to excel in school on their own, but others feel pressured to cheat because of the competitive environment in school. Students are focusing on the bigger picture by studying for unit exams and relying on their friends to send them the assignments due in other hours. Students are so focused on keeping their grades higher than their peers. The competitive environment entices students to go online and seek out an answer key completed correctly instead of learning the material.

Assignments, tests, quizzes and all schoolwork serves a purpose. It stimulates the brain and forces students to grasp the concept they are being taught, not just understand short-term. Students are hurting themselves in the long-run. Unable to fake it on finals, the ACT or on AP tests their scores will reflect the most tragic consequence of all: not retaining the important lessons they are taught every day in class due to the continual cheating.

We see it every day, in our classrooms, at Starbucks or Panera, in our group chats, in our quick conversations in the halls. Cheating, collaborating, helping a friend out, whatever you consider it is everywhere. Cheating has become a normality at East, and dire action is needed. Teachers need to devise a better system of monitoring their students tests and assignments like locking screens on online tests. Schools need to stress and teach the importance of academic integrity. Students need to realize they are hurting themselves by not putting forth the effort to learn something new so they can learn to be successful as an independent student.

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The Harbinger Online Staff

The Harbinger is the exclusive student-run news program for Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, KS. Staffed by approximately 60 dedicated super-students and overseen by adviser C. Dow Tate, the print and online publications have won numerous national awards. The Harbinger is published in print every two weeks and its website edition is updated daily. The website edition includes blogs, live video, photo galleries and stories not published in the ... Read Full »

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