When talking to both students and parents about honesty, we focus much of the conversation on the words we speak, telling the truth. However 85% of students reportedly engage in some kind of academic dishonesty before graduating high school. Just like with the spoken truth, most parents do not believe their child would cheat, and are shocked when they find out it is taking place.
Why does cheating take place in schools with students whose life does not depend on the grade they receive? The number one reason is that students have been influenced to believe that “their lives’ do depend on it. When grades and placement in class becomes more important than learning and experiencing the material being taught, students will cheat to improve their standing.
When the focus is put on the “bad grade” versus the effort put into the subject, we get cheating. When parents are embarrassed by their child’s performance, even if they say to their child that the grades do not matter to me, the student perceives the underlying message and do not want to disappoint, themselves or their parents.
In addition to those factors, a child who has had issues with impulsiveness may be more likely to take the shortcut to a better grade. It is the culture of some schools that “everyone cheats” so for me to keep up, I must do so also. Some schools have even had administrators caught cheating to make the student grades look better.
Want to change those pressures? Teachers nor parents should ever say, students need to learn something “because there is a test on Friday”. Students should be shown the value of the lesson to them. When learning is emphasized for the value of learning, when effort is valued over grades, when teachers and parents teach to the diverse needs of the student, students enjoy the lessons and the pressure is not as great on them to get good grades.
One final note: The pressure of getting into a “good college” is overrated. The good college for any student is the one that fits them the best. It is not the one the parent went to, nor the one that will impress your friends. Sometimes it is one that you have never heard of and won’t put you in debt for the rest of your life.
Our job as parents is to teach morals, values and ethics, all of which are laid on the foundation of the virtues and character that we at Balanced Life Skills promote to our students. Be your best, compete with yourself and live a full life mastering your passion.