Let conscience guide

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Apr 2018 12:20:56



By aditi singh

It was a Class 3 classroom. The English teacher wrote down 10 words on the blackboard for the children to copy for the next day’s dictation test. They all did so. The next day, the dictation was given and the papers were collected. The teacher was surprised to see one of her students who had been really very bad with spellings had got them all right - 10 on 10. The teacher wanted to appreciate her. When she read out the names of all those who had scored full marks, the class was surprised. During the interval, when all the children had gone out to play, the teacher went around the classroom to see that all was well. Suddenly, she detected something on the wall near the desk where the weak student who had scored 10 on 10. The little girl had cleverly written down all the words on the wall the previous day and had tried to erase it all after the test. The teacher did not chide the child in front of the class regarding this. The class went on as usual. When the last bell rang and all the children ran out of the class, she asked the girl to stay back. “Come with me Sonu, I want you to be honest,” she said to the child. She took her to the wall and showed her the scribbling on it, “What is this?” Sonu began to cry. She neither denied anything nor did she speak a word. The teacher just patted her on the back and said, “Will you do it again?” “NnnNo ma’am, never,” the little girl said, sobbing. The teacher wiped her tears and let her go.
Do not damage the child’s self-esteem: As a teacher, I learnt this early. A child in Class 3 is too young to be
reprimanded for her mistake. She must only be told that success is worthwhile only when it is based on merit and honesty. Allow the child to try her best in future, and it will be its own reward.

When adolescents cheat: Students who cheat during these years are those that are not prepared for the test and are afraid of the consequences of getting lower grades. Serious action should be taken only if they are chronic cheaters. Teachers and parents who increase the pressure on weak students to succeed academically are to be blamed for students cheating. The culture of cheating has increased across many educational institutions, with gadgets making it easier to do so.Sometimes when cheating is easy and access to cheating is available at hand, it becomes easy to rationalise the act. When students see their peers cheating and getting better grades, they are tempted to do it themselves.

Blame teachers: The perception of teachers regarding
students becomes a motivating factor for cheating in many cases. If a teacher is unfair and uncaring and partial in her attitudes, and if her focus is only on grades, students cheat with a vengeance. It is necessary that competition and anxiety in the classroom should be reduced. It is not necessary to exhibit the grades of students publicly. Collaborative group work like projects and assignments are motivating factors.

Vigilant supervisors: Passive supervisors convey the message that they don’t care. It is good practice to see that students do not bring anything into the examination hall other than their pens, pencils and their hall tickets. Water can be supplied with water bottles in the examination halls. If a supervisor finds anyone cheating, proper evidence has to be collected rather than accusing someone without reason. To narrate my own experience, while I was writing my Master’s examination, a piece of paper fell on the floor from the pocket of a student in front of me. My instant reaction was to pick up the paper and hand it over to him. The supervisor came to me and asked what was up. I was at a loss, but the student in front showed him the paper. It was only a bill from the dry-cleaners. Both of us said sorry and the supervisor left. This taught me a lesson. What I did impulsively was not the right thing to do in an examination hall.

Role of parents: It is absolutely unnecessary to preach to children about the wrongs of cheating. Children inherently know that it is wrong and may narrate incidents that have
happened in school about someone cheating. When parents converse with their children regarding their studies open-mindedly, they do not feel pressured to cheat. When elders focus solely on grades and academics, they put
children on ‘pins and needles’. Those are the children that are likely to indulge in cheating. Role of peers: One question that I have been asked is, “Is it acceptable or okay to report on my own classmates cheating in an exam to my teacher?” Some students had seen others passing notes or collaborating during exams without the knowledge of the supervisor. Most of them said they did not want to get into trouble. Even when they know it is not right, some of them think it is better to keep silent about it. It is a difficult situation to be in. Conscience is the best thing. Just let the conscience of the students tell them whether they are doing the right thing or not. How do we evoke this? This totally depends on how children are brought up by their parents. One warning: Constant criticism from elders in the family ruins a child’s chance of growing up into an upright individual. (INAV) l