“Nobody wants to cheat”
I've cheated in school when I thought that I could get away with it. I'm not proud of it and I don't usually feel very good about myself afterward, but sometimes it's the only way possible to survive in a pressure cooker. My parents are really set on my getting good grades. They study my report card the same way they scrutinize the newspaper's stock market page. And they make me feel that I've got to live up to their expectations.
I can't remember my mother or father ever asking me about what I actually learned in school or if I enjoyed a particular subject. Instead, it's always been, “How are you doing in geometry7?” or “ How'd your English teacher like your paper?”
It's hard to disappoint them. When my grades even begin to drop at all, I feel as though I've failed. It's an awful feeling.
Some teachers are really rough. They'll give tests containing at least one or two questions on materials we've never even covered in class. It's not always possible to come out ahead.
I don't think that most teachers understand how much we're expected to produce. Or even what good grades and our class rank can mean to us. If you want to get into a really good college, you've got to have a top academic record. Without that, all the extracurricular activities you may have engaged in can mean nothing.
But often it's like each teacher acts as if his is the only subject we have. They think nothing of piling on our homework or giving surprise quizzes. Sometimes we have to take two or three tests in different subjects on the same day. I'd like to see a lot of adults I know preparing for that.
When the work load becomes too difficult, some kids may resort to cheating. If you have three or four subjects to study for, you're not going to be able to devote enough time to each subject in order to be well prepared for each class.
Nevertheless, you're still expected to ace everything. And you'll usually end up cheating in the classes you are least prepared for. Those usually turn out to be the subjects you don't like or tend to do poorly in. It may be the only way left to live up to your parents' expectations and compete with the top students in the class.
Everybody knows that if you cheat, it's crucial not to get caught. Few things can cause more of an uproar. Once my older brother got caught cheating on a math final. My parents acted as though he'd committed a federal offense. The assistant principal called them to school, but although the incident sparked several conferences, I don't think that anybody ever really understood what my brother was going through. We're just supposed to perform exceptionally as well as always act honestly, but how many adults can actually live up to the standards they set for us?
My father has gotten countless traffic tickets for parking in no parking zones or for not coming to a full stop at stop signs. And you're always hearing about people who don't file their income tax honestly. Sometimes they're even admired for their cunning in cheating the IRS. How about all the corruption in government? Successful adults often accept dishonesty in order to achieve their business goals. Are kids the only ones who are supposed to be perfect?
Most of my friends have cheated on tests in school at one time or another. The kids who never cheat are usually either afraid of getting caught or just don't know how to do it safely. Nobody wants to cheat. But if it's a choice of being honest or of getting a grade, most kids will try for the A. That may sound wrong, but we didn't make the rules, we're just trying to get by.