Thursday, May 04, 2006
Cheaters Always Prosper
Hey everybody. Lemme start by thanking all posters. I was especially pleased to hear from Cory, Dan and Anne Marie. And ha ha ha to Heather for gotcha. :) Today's topic is cheating. As you may notice, there is a cheat sheet to the right. This was stapled, (see the staple?), to one of my students' midterm exams with a small note from the proctor underneath stating, "She is cheating." You see I wasn't the one who was supervising my exams while the kids were writing them. I was extraordinarily happy to see that the proctor was making an effort to put a small dent in the massive amount of cheating that always goes on during exams. It didn't help much, however. The author of this cheat sheet was a member of my class that did the most cheating. But it's the thought that counts, right? And as you can tell from the cheat sheet, it wouldn't have helped a whole lot. In fact this particular student got a 29/45 on her exam. Not terrible but not great. These phrases were used on the exam to describe pictures and answer the questions "What is he doing?" Or, "What is she doing?" NO, I didn't have a picture of a man washing a woman's body on my exam but again, it's the thought that counts. Maybe that was a Freudian slip on the part of my erotic little cheater. Hee hee. At any rate, cheating is a, (an?), ubiquitous phenomenon in Korea. It's not something that I can do much about. For those of you who have never been to Korea, you wouldn't believe the cheating here! For those of us who have experienced it, WE still have trouble believing it! I play a ton of games in my classes and over my years I can't remember EVER playing a game where people didn't try to cheat. To give just one example, I sometimes play Headbanz or a version thereof. I make cards with famous people, or jobs, or whatever. Students put the cards on their foreheads so that other people in the group can see the card but the one student can't. Then that student asks questions like, "Am I old?", "Am I alive?", "Am I American?" or for jobs "Do I work outdoors?", "Do I make a lot of money?" That sort of thing. Before handing out the cards I make a point of saying "DON'T LOOK AT THE CARD!" I say it at least 10 times. I tell them somebody is going to look. I sometimes even tell them if they look, they are stupid. But invariably several people look. Even when the other kids say, "Stupid! Stupid!" it doesn't seem to help. They just can't control themselves. They cheat at every game and on every test. The thing is, after they finish school and go out into the world there is EVEN MORE cheating. It's so common here that if I discourage cheating I will not be preparing them for the real world. So my position is if they cheat BADLY in my class they will be penalized. For example last week I saw several students copying their homework before class. They actually had another person's book and they were copying answers from one book to the other in full view of me, their teacher. So I didn't give the offenders credit for their homework. I'm positive other people copied their homework, but they had the sense not to do it while I was watching them. They received their pluses. One girl, while returning the book she was copying from to the other student, was arguing and protesting vehemently. In Korean. I use the attendance to check homework. I give a little plus sign to those who finished. I noticed that the protesting girl was none other than the owner of the cheat sheet above. She'll be a successful politician or business owner someday. I have a personal theory on this. I think that Korean kids need to play more sports. I noticed immediately upon coming to this country that kids spend far too much time in the sterile classroom environment and far too little socializing. Some of my middle school kids tell me they are in the classroom up to 14 hours a day for God's sake! Overworked and underplayed. If I were in their position, I'm sure I wouldn't bust my ass doing everything the hard way either. I'd find shortcuts. And teachers in this country are not very zealous at correcting the cheating. In fact I've seen it encouraged. But back to the sports idea. I recently heard that in a small survey done by a TV channel here in Korea, 80% of respondents said they don't exercise at all! That was a little surprising but not shocking to me. I think that if Koreans played more sports it would be really great for their culture, their health and it would cut down significantly on cheating. Why? Sports have penalties. I've played sports with Koreans and they don't cheat. It's the one area that I can think of where cheating isn't a problem. Because sports have penalties. Foul shots, penalty kicks, and other things like that. And I've noticed that when playing sports, other players don't like cheaters here in Korea any more than people like cheaters elsewhere. They get kicked off the playing field or sent home. They didn't get promoted. Anyhoo, speaking of sports, I have to go to a ballgame. A cleanly played ballgame where cheating is roundly discouraged. Another reason why I love baseball here. Happy Children's Day everybody! 4-day weekend! Yeehaw!