To Cheat or Not To Cheat: There is no question.

Stress compounds stress. The motto of advanced education, the motto of undergraduate life. The motto of the workplace and the motto of relationships. Stress, stress, stress. It’s all we’ve got these days, holding tightly to it like the cold side of the pillow. And, from the college student standpoint, stress is the biggest factor in my unhealthiness, my general bitterness, you know the drill.

What attributes to this stress the most? For me, I’d say classload. I’m a music major as you probably guessed, and that means Music Theory. It’s like learning a universal language, it’s insane. Music theory is a big ol’ class load. But on top of that is the infamous music literature, where we’re required to learn about all the composers in all the genres and all the periods of time ranging from Gregorian chant to bluegrass and the British Invasion. And to be honest, I can’t memorize all those names and dates. It’s impossible, especially on top of Music Theory.

What’s the solution? I cheat. I cheat efficiently and very well. I can’t tell you damnit about the classical period. But I guarantee one thing; if you ask me a question, I can find the answer.

I think that’s the problem with our education system in general today. They want us to memorize, regurgitate, and, inevitably, forget. It’s about as useful as eating, come to think of it. (Wait, this might be counter-intuitive…)

Knowing full well you can’t accomplish anything from outside the system, I keep my cheating to a minimum. I don’t want to get caught and thrown out and disregarded for life. I want to change the system. Because I believe it’s inherently better to teach this way;

  • Teach students to use other students. We emphasize the competitive testing and entrance portion of secondary education, and that sets students against each other. We stop realizing that the biggest resource people have are people.
  • Teach students not to memorize and regurgitate, but be able to FIND information on a spontaneous basis. Instead of vocab lists and multiple choice, I think tests should include resource databases such as the internet, and scores dependent on how well a student could find the necessary information to solve a problem.
  • Teach students to think critically. Remove the entire concept of cheating from our minds. Replace it with ingenuity. A student emails a copy of the material on a PDF file to his PDA/Phone for easy viewing. Student then hides the phone while utilizing it on test day. Student aces the test through superior use of resources.

I think it’s a the system has forced a wedge between students. A wedge of competitiveness, a wedge of masochistic integrity. It’s not really a Dog-eat-Dog world out there. When’s the last time you saw a Dog actually eating another dog? It’s a dog-eat-food world. Whatever food’s out there. And sometimes, wild dogs hunt in packs to get more food. Does the prey call that cheating? No, it’s efficiency and teamwork.

I took that test today with photographs of the test on my iPhone, and with a text-message system set-up for the ‘Listening’ portion of the test. (Where we listen to a song, and name the composer and title. Songs are picked from a list that we’re handed to study, a week before, ish.) We all got the answers together, and we aced the test. I can’t think of a better way to learn.

I think a study would actually show that students who worked this way would have better retention of data. I mean it’s already proven that over-studying causes a massive retention drop. Lack of sleep, and over-focus, both of these also hinder the learning process. I wish someone could do a study like this, to prove once and for all that… memorization and regurgitation is not learning.

That’s all… cheat on, noble cheaters.

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20 Responses

  1. Sure regurgitation isn’t learning, but no rules on cheating at all? Come on now, the point of modern teaching is to see if you can meet a set standard. If there’s no standards at all, there’s no limits that force you to learn anything.

    Would you suggest that plagiarism, for instance, is somehow a good thing?

  2. At what point does humanity run out of things to say? Eventually, everything we do will be plagiarism.

    But in seriousness, there would be rules over violent cheating, which is what I call plagiarism. Something that directly negatively affects another human being.

    There would be rules against SOME cheating, but then, I suggest not allowing cheating, but drastically minimizing the definition of cheating.

  3. your example of someone hiding a PDA with the answers is obviously not an application of course knowledge or critical thinking, just someone going around the course to get the answers anyway.

    Like walking around a hurdle rather than jumping it, then Saying you finished the hurdle race anyway. Nothing is proven in such a situation, yet you would say that this isn’t cheating.

  4. You people make me sick. Stress. How about having NO FUTURE? Does that sound stressful enough for you? I have no chance of ever spending four to eight years of my life sitting around, smoking weed, and talking about music. Piss off.

    The cheating stuff is good though. I’m a go for that.

  5. We determine our futures. Anybody in this nation can do anything. I wholeheartedly believe that, and if you have screwed up your future, that’s nobody’s fault but your own. Maybe the ‘smoking weed’ part in that statement got to you a little early.

    No offense intended, but noone chose your fate.

  6. Mekhami, if you really think we determine our own futures, then you are a fool. It is irony in the highest form to witness such foolishness in one so smug.

  7. Pendel Haight,
    “NO FUTURE” would indeed be stress-free. It would be freedom, of a sort, to not have any outer obligation that demanded work from me.

    But it would be a cure worse than the disease. I accept stress as a necessary side effect because, yes, I want to build a future. Truly, I wish that you had a similar opportunity to go to college, or to at least have something that gave you hope for your many coming days.

    We aren’t your enemy here. Yes we receive an advantage because the system has let us go to college, but we aren’t the ones who shut you out. I’d imagine that the forces that I complain about and hope to change are the same ones that place you at a disadvantage.

    Howard Zinn once wrote that America expects its citizens to highly exalt it’s top 1%, while the bottom 99% despise each other and tear each other apart so much that the 1% never has to worry about any of them. Keep that in mind whenever you start to feel sickened by your fellow Americans.

  8. Pendel: So you think dropping acid, smoking weed, having your priorities all fucked, this was the system getting you down?

    I walked the straight and narrow so I could get into college, focused on grades and my one talent, got shit done and played my cards right.

    You didn’t, is this anyone else’s fault but your own? How can it be anyone else’s fault? Did someone force these drugs down your throat? Tie you up, gun to the head, “Say goodbye to your life?”

  9. Mekhami, I take one hit of acid, and you think that defines my life? And hell, that was only like a week ago. Sure, I PLAN to take more, but a person has to have a little fun in life, right? A little self discovery? Not even my shrink faults me this. Look, you seem to think very highly of yourself, and that’s all good, but you should question your motives to make certain they are as pure as you believe.

    Barometricpressure, your response was not what I expected. You seem like a very grounded dude. You give me much to think about. Thanks. The Zinn quote blows my mind. I’ll have to go to the mountain top over that one.

  10. That was yoru decision: you tried a future in the system for a life of fun outside of it. I’m not gonna tell you your choice was a bad one, to each their own. The system is not for everyone. Being outside the system is not for everyone.

    My point is that if that’s what you want, then you have it. There’s no point in being pissed at the rest of us for having what you don’t want anyway.

  11. You make me want to cover my head with a blanket.

  12. I’m not here to insult you, man. Have fun, I’ve got some finals to take.

  13. Mekhami, seriously, acid doesn’t ruin lives. Of course erring on the side of abstinence to try to make something of yourself is admirable, and the worst that can be said about such a decision is that you’re a prude who can’t have fun.

    But I would encourage you to educate yourself on mind-altering substances, since the schools and the media aren’t going to do it honestly. Start with my own post on LSD.

    Some very basic assumptions that you may have that are wrong: psychedelics aren’t necessarily fun (esp. acid), but they are often highly introspective and incredibly useful, at the very least for personal growth, but often for viewing and analyzing aspects of the outside world in a novel way. The common view is that a drug trip is like a roller coaster (slightly intimidating and thrilling), but it’s more akin to a walking journey through a foreign land: you’ll see things, meet people, and encounter thoughts that you would never find back home. Finally, the assumption of mind-damage: psychedelics in general are largely harmless, physically, and only those with pre-existing psychological conditions suffer psychological turmoil. See erowid.org (http://www.erowid.org/) for more information.

  14. Pendel Haight,

    First I must say that i don’t have Mr. Zinn’s book with me, so what I wrote likely isn’t the exact quote, rather a very close paraphrase. If you want to find the original, it’s in his conclusion to A People’s History of the United States.

    Obviously I agree with you more than my fellow enigma-er with regards to systemic effects on individuals. To illustrate: My father’s family has gone from a spartan-but-happy lower-middle-class rural life to barely hanging above poverty. I trace their disadvantages to when they were swept up early on in the religious fanaticism of the past 40 years (my grandfather is a retired pastor). But this really was not a problem until large-scale farming and the loss of American factories made their region (rural Kentucky and Ohio) and their way of life outdated.

    They found themselves without work in a very weak local economy. The young in the community who could afford it were leaving, rather than carrying on generational traditions, and no new labor was coming in. The systemic religious element exasperated this, first explicitly, as abortion and, to a lesser extent, speaking against tradition was never (and still isn’t) socially acceptable for young girls; then implicitly, as they voted for politicians based on religious proclamation, rather than economic acumen. Beyond that though, for my grandfather’s household, religion was the way of life, the standard for making all decisions.

    My family’s tale is, in many respects typical, and shows what happens when the system abandons those near the bottom in favor of those at the top.

    In Mekhami’s favor, though, I cannot ignore the example of my own father. He determined early on that he would leave, because, while remaining religious at the time, he considered his father’s attitude towards religion as a way to make life decisions an irrational one. He felt impeded by the lifestyle available him, and thought that his siblings felt likewise (this later proved to be a misjudgment on his part, as his siblings remain near my grandparents to this day). So he made it a goal to get out. He worked three jobs at a time to send himself to college, and ended up transferring colleges four times (first to leave a strict religious school, then because his friends were doing it, then for affordability, then to be with my future mother). He went on to lead a very successful, if somewhat unorthodox, career as an officer in the military working with munitions (including nuclear), jet maintenance, financing, and administration. Not quite the stereotypical rags-to-riches story, but my father is very much the American dream, a product of his own hard work and determination to better himself.

    How do I reconcile the two stories? Quite simply, while working hard, staying dedicated, and being loyal can change one’s lot in life, the opportunity has to exist. As hard as my dad worked, he could not have done it with today’s poor job market, high college costs, and high interest loans. There were also programs at the time of my parent’s marriage designed to help young people become home owners and join the middle class. My dad’s individual drive was simply how he made use of his environment, and at no point was that environment not a socially-contrived one.

    And despite the more favorable infrastructure of the time, my dad was still a lucky one. Most young people didn’t rise a class when their lower-middle-class life became unsustainable. There simply wasn’t room. They were left without their traditional methods of livelihood, with no replacement offered. First the governing economic system screwed them, then the prevailing cultural system. By and large (although exceptions certainly exist), they were not screwed by their own laziness or lack of motivation. These are farmers for pete’s sake.

    As I don’t know anything about you, I have to admit that perhaps mekhami is correct, that your situation is your own fault, as bad choices and a lack of motivation left you with no future. It’s more likely, however, that this is not the case, as most people want to live comfortably, though perhaps not luxuriously, and are more than willing to work for their own security and happiness. This doesn’t establish which of us has judged you correctly, however. To do that, and to address the real issue, I hope i have adequately pointed out that my friend and co-blogger is making a grievous error is assuming that the environment has little-to-no effect on the course of an individual’s life and prospects, indeed, the very idea of society is born of the opposite conclusion.

    (This was really long, and it’s got me thinking. Later, sometime, I’ll write about my father in a deeper, more official capacity.)

  15. barometricpressure, I am impressed. I’m not so sure that I have your confidence, or your brains, and it seems to me that these have probably taken you far in life. My first comment was antagonistic, my apologies. I am generally an angry person and I am trying to remedy this.

  16. Pendel haight

    No need to apologize. First i should clear something up, since it’s not so obvious: I’m the same person as the ‘pegleghippie’ that posts here, but because of the technical jungle of wordpress, I’m ‘barometric pressure’ in the comments.

    Second, Thank you so much for the complement. I get told somewhat regularly that I’m intelligent, but I have my doubts. I think I just payed attention well in my logic class, and applying logic correctly gives the impression of intelligence. I don’t get complemented on confidence too often, though. Rest assured both are much appreciated.

    Finally, I just want to say that, in my experience, anger is not always a bad thing. Particularly on the internet, where physical violence is not much of a threat, anger is mostly harmless. And It got me thinking about my family and some deep topics, and facilitated some good discussion, and now it’s got me reflecting on my own opinion of anger, so it all worked out for good in the end.

    Rather than try to change who you are, learn to understand your own anger and focus it towards constructive ends. When I practiced martial arts, I found out that I could channel anger into physical performance very effectively, as long as I always controlled it, and it never controlled me. Unfortunately, or fortunately if your goal is to get over anger, this physical focus burned the anger out fast, and left me a bit tired. I’ll end by quoting the Rage Against the Machine song,Freedom, “Your anger is a gift.”

  17. What the hell…martial arts, logic class, music major…are you angling for the Most Well Rounded Award? You have my vote.

  18. I’m the music major lol. But hey, blogroll it up?

  19. Nice new theme. Much better. Do you mean let’s put each other on our blogrolls?

  20. Indeed.

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