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Honesty for 2021?

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

A high school teacher recently commented on how students are getting quite adept at cheating with online assignments. It really should come as no surprise that students are becoming more ingenious in finding ways to finish online work, and in fact “to cheat.” When I was teaching at UofT, I was upset when more of the course was becoming online; in my view there is nothing better than person-to-person contact. That being said, with present conditions, we may not have much of a choice right now, but it has its downfalls.

A friend, who is a retired math department head, mentioned to me that students have found an app (he did give me the name, which I choose not to share here), which scans a math problem and then offers a step-by-step guide as to how to solve it. Reportedly, the app boasts over 150 million downloads. Of course there is also your standard Google search to find the solutions to any current textbook question…or to find that app.

So are students really cheating OR are they just doing what they have been asked to do – solve the problem, and as many of our young people do, find an app to assist them – and why not?

In the real world, it seems only the “solutions” are important, how one gets there is secondary, even if attained through nefarious methods. Are not the students just following the instructions of teachers to solve the problems given? Young people will also follow the examples of the “elders.” Most recently, the provincial finance minister left the country on vacation with the premier’s knowledge. We now know of several other politicians who have taken holidays amidst lockdowns. Of course, the “most powerful leader in the world” was allegedly cheating on his taxes among countless other well-documented “lies.” After all, “it’s only cheating if you get caught.” Isn’t that the lesson we are teaching our next generation?

Maybe we are teaching our children exactly what they need to know to be successful in this world – just solve the problem and don’t worry about how you may have done it or the consequences. After all, some parents hire “coaches” to “help” their children complete application forms to various professional schools.

Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were among 50 people charged in a $25 million college entrance exam-cheating scheme. The scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to court documents.

But what happens to those students who can’t afford these “efficiencies?”

Here is a story that was also recently sent to me.

Murphy applied for a forklift operator post at a famous Irish firm based in Dublin.

A Norwegian applied for the same job and since both applicants had similar qualifications, they were asked to take a test and were led to a quiet room with no interruptions by the manager.

When the results were in, both men had scored 19 out of 20.

The manager went to Murphy and said, “Thank you for coming to the interview, but we’ve decided to give the Norwegian the job.”

“And why would you be doing that? We both got 19 questions correct. This being Ireland and me being Irish surely I should get the job,” replied Murphy.

The manager said, “We have made our decision not on the correct answers, but on the question you got wrong.”

Murphy replied, “And just how would one incorrect answer be better than another?”

The manager said, “Simple…on question number seven the Norwegian wrote down,

‘I don’t know.’ You put down, ‘Neither do I.’”

Just remember, “we reap what we sow” and when it comes time for this generation to care for their elders they might just say, “we have a problem, you know you are getting far too expensive to care for and we have a solution.” Or maybe we have already been doing that?

Meanwhile, I will try from this point on to be more honest and not to incorporate so much of a friend’s email into “my” column…but thanks, Mike.

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