Cheating in school: A nuanced issue?

Yes: Sabine Rosen

EDITORS NOTE:  Neither Sabine Rosen nor the Jacket condone cheating. 

In a survey of over 70,000 students, more than 95 percent of students admitted to cheating in school in some capacity. Cheating is often explicitly prohibited in schools, yet it happens all the time. Many things can be considered cheating, but the Oxford Languages English Dictionary defines cheating as to “act dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination.” However, this definition does not contain enough nuance. Sometimes what is considered “cheating” is simply students using their resources to the best of their abilities to give themselves the best chance for success. 

Even when schools try their hardest to make the school environment fair, it’s impossible for all students to have equal opportunities. When a student struggles to achieve good grades in class, some families hire a private tutor. While this is perfectly acceptable, it is extremely expensive and is not in every family’s price range. Students with the privilege of having a private tutor have a huge advantage over other students. If a student feels they cannot keep up with another peer who has a tutor, they might rely on “cheating” to level the playing field. 

Collaborating on homework or projects can also be considered “cheating.” However, sometimes it is necessary and benefits the student’s learning and finished product. For example, if a student was absent from class or just very confused about the material, receiving help might be necessary to allow them to complete the assignment at all. Additionally, having someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of in the beginning can greatly benefit an essay or project. Still, when collaborating with others it is important students ensure they are also learning the material and that the work turned in is mostly their own. 

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming more present in our daily lives, there are more and more issues with students using the technology to cheat. Of course, having AI write whole essays is a form of “cheating” that is never acceptable. On the other hand, if students are using AI for something like kick-starting their flow of ideas, outlining their essays, or finding sources for a research paper, they have the justification to claim that they are using it as a tool. Students should be cautious not to over-rely on AI, but a little assistance, while technically still considered “cheating” by some, can actually act as a beneficial tool. 

Some people may say that  “cheating” always harms the learning of the student. While this is sometimes true, it is also possible that the student is using their time saved to learn more important things. For example, let’s say a student is assigned multiple pages of busy work in math. They choose to copy off their friends in order to work on an important and interesting English paper instead. Yes, they are robbing themselves of the opportunity to practice math, but they are still learning more than they would have been had they not “cheated.”

Sometimes what is considered “cheating” is simply a student using their resources to learn and produce the best product they can. Despite what some say, the line between what is “cheating”  and what is not is blurry.

No: Sophie Dreskin

Cheating is a word that garners many strong reactions when brought up in the classroom, as a topic that in many cases divides students and teachers. Cheating can be anything from asking a friend for help on homework to sneakily looking up all of the answers in the middle of a test. However, the one thing that holds true throughout any type of cheating is that it is never okay. 

Cheating is in direct defiance of what school is meant to teach. Honesty and accountability are important, and turning in work that wasn’t completely done by oneself is morally wrong. By cheating, students are not only breaking school rules but also important rules of ethics. 

Unfortunately, it is more common for students to cheat today than it was in the past. In the 1940s, about 20 percent of students admitted to cheating, but today, between 75 percent and 98 percent of students admit to it. One cause of this, according to Stanford University, is the rise in the competitiveness of college admissions coupled with the need to imitate what other students do. 

When students see their peers cheating, they often feel motivated to cheat themselves. According to a BHS student who had cheated in the past and asked to be anonymous due to fear of repercussions, “When I had seen my friends and classmates cheat, I felt like either I’d get a worse grade, or I could just cheat too.” 

The best way to end this problem is for everyone to take a step back and realize that cheating isn’t what school is truly meant for. 

When cheating in school, what people don’t realize is that in the long run, they are cheating themselves the most. Education is important, and students need to thoroughly learn all of the class material in order to progress. At BHS, classes like math are constantly building off of old material. 

“If a student tries to cheat in math, they are really cheating themself, because they’ll be even more lost next year,” said Monique Duncan-Harris, a BHS math teacher. 

This is also a problem when it comes to AP classes. If students decide to look up all the answers to their AP classes’ tests all year, by the time the AP test comes around, students will be wildly unprepared and fail. Cheating is a dangerous thing to do and is only a band-aid solution that can quickly lead to much deeper cuts. 

While some might say that cheating is justifiable in certain cases, such as asking for a few answers on the homework, it is still never okay.​​ This breeds bad habits that often continue to become larger problems and is still turning in work that is not entirely your own.

From using bits of AI in a paper to stealing test answers, cheating is never acceptable.  When turning in work that isn’t their own, students severely harm their education, which should never be taken for granted.