A recent New York Times article cited studies finding that “a majority of students violate standards of academic integrity to some degree, and high achievers are just as likely to do it as others.”
Evidence indicates, the article continued, that the problem has worsened in recent years. Professor Donald L. McCabe of the Rutgers University Business School said, “I don’t think there’s any question that students have become more competitive, under more pressure, and, as a result, tend to excuse more from themselves and other students, and that’s abetted by the adults around them. … More and more, there are students at the top who cheat to thrive.”
Honesty is a simple concept that’s easy to understand but sometimes challenging to adhere to. I grew up being told that honesty is what you do when no one is looking. Sometimes that takes courage.
If a student is unprepared for a test, it’s not easy to accept a low grade when cheating could net a higher one. When a student sees dishonesty going on around him, it’s also challenging to stand up to what might be an acceptable practice by classmates.
He may have to accept lower grades, because that’s what he has earned. He may even lose friendships, because he won’t go along with the idea that dishonesty is OK.
In the end, lying, cheating or stealing might offer temporary benefits but bring great harm to many people. When you live a life of integrity, however, you will always have your honor, you will have a higher opinion of yourself and you will sleep better at night.
Headmaster, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Sandy Springs