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Marmion’s Manly Man: Cheating’s place in education

Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 9:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 11:43 p.m. CDT

For many schools across the United States, cheating has become a dirty word. From online plagiarism of Wikipedia to old-school peeping on another person’s paper, the matter takes on multiple forms and can occur in the richest – as well as poorest – learning communities. Rather recently, the crackdown on academic dishonesty has gained a lot of force with schools implementing strict honor codes and punishments.

Cheating is a natural evil that will keep on reinventing itself no matter the amount of administrative oversight. Still, the question remains – why do kids cheat? 

As a teacher, one must condemn the action of cheating and leave the issue at that. As a student, however, I decided to delve into the thoughts of my peers and get their thoughts on the cheating question.

The first school of thought stands at the side of the student. Every year that passes, the standards of education seem to rise, and the enrolling classes of colleges become that much more competitive. Failing in the academic realm of today can mean not realizing the perfect domestic American dream. I mean, who wouldn’t want a white picket fence, a sky-blue minivan and a neighbor that talks just a bit too much?

In most cases, this scenario comes into play when a normally high-achieving student realizes that he or she can no longer put up with the rigor of his or her usual schedule. Not comfortable with the prospect of failure, the student resorts to rather inventive methods on resolving the knowledge gap.

When asked why he thought kids cheated, Eric Lifka, a senior at Marmion, replied that “a lot of schools are demanding more from students, and many can’t keep up with the workload.”

On the other side, the ideology of laziness prevails. Now, I don’t consider myself an expert in laziness, but my parents most likely believe that I could teach a sloth a thing or two. Many have met the likes of an evildoer called Mr. Procrastination, and no one knows how to waste time better than he does.

Here’s an example – say little Jimmy just got assigned a four-page research paper on the importance of the common ground squirrel in the ecosystem. Jimmy’s brain will file that under the overflowing “Blah” file, and return to focusing on the current pressing issue – navigating a tiny bird through green pipes of death.

Fast-forward two weeks to a day before the paper is due, and Jimmy’s brain has sounded the alarm.

Not only do the words of Wikipedia seem enticing, they appear to be his last resort.

Another senior at Marmion, Matt Walz, answered the same question of cheating in a different manner: “For the most part, they’re lazy. They don’t want to put in the effort.”

In the battle against the cheating virus, I doubt the world will find a cure. Whether the sickness originates from the school system or from the student is up in the air. 

• Kurt Zepeda is a St. Charles resident and a senior at Marmion Academy in Aurora. He enjoys running, writing and the occasional confection. His column runs every other Thursday in the Kane County Chronicle. Contact him at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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