I heard a commercial that made me cringe. Then it made me frustrated. Then, concerned about our future.
While getting ready in the morning, I usually listen to music through either Amazon Music or Pandora. As I was streaming my Crowder Station through Alexa the other morning, I heard an advertisement for a “homework help” company. This particular company boasted its ability to provide correct answers to most mainstream textbook questions. (The word for this is cheating, btw). As if that’s not bad enough, the announcer went on to say that if your teacher “goes rogue” by creating his/her own questions, no problem. They have people standing by to help answer those, too (for an additional fee, of course).
Ok, let’s address the first problem here — getting someone else to do your homework is cheating (even if you pay for those answers). Sites like this one infuriate me as a teacher. As a high school teacher, if I assigned homework, there was something I wanted my students to gain through the process. I teach English, so most of the time the goal was improved reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. In fact, most of the teachers I know would agree that homework aids in 1) reinforcing a new concept, 2) developing critical thinking skills, and/or 3) improving problem-solving skills. These sites set kids up for failure because they offer a shortcut that is actually very detrimental.
I also take great offense to the idea that deviating from the textbook questions is “going rogue.” Yes, I do sometimes use textbook questions. We all do – why reinvent the wheel every time? But implying that the norm is to use the textbook only, and that teachers who use their own creativity are someone making life more difficult for the student is absurd.
The bigger problem, though, is the normalization of cheating.
Before we get too down on the “young” generation for being a bunch of cheaters, let’s remember something – they aren’t the ones creating these services. There’s an entire market of companies (companies run by adults) profiting off cheating (both in education and in personal relationships). New websites, apps, and services are constantly developed, making it easier for students to find “help” on homework, and for individuals to hide details of relationships.
The problem isn’t that the next generation is lazier. They are just observing the world they live in and making choices accordingly. The problem is this: as our culture’s morality declines, we find new ways to deceive and manipulate (for a profit, if possible).
What do we do? Sometimes, it feels like we are fighting a losing battle. I mean, I really like the idea of “going rogue” and making integrity easier than deceit, but how do we even begin to accomplish that?
First, I think we have to decide that integrity matters. It has to matter to us because it matters to God. That makes it worth fighting for.
We have to start with ourselves. Where do I personally walk the line between integrity and deceit? After we get ourselves in order, we can begin influencing those around us, in love and humility (because we are all a mess). The goal isn’t to change everyone’s mind. The goal is to influence who we can, however we can, for good.
In a world where cheating is normal, let’s “go rogue” and make a stand for integrity.