Cheating (was: Re: Thomas Hardy)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Sat Jan 8 16:18:04 EST 2000


On Sat, 8 Jan 2000 13:40:32 +1100, Sally Odgers wrote:

>> this kind of behavior?  Not to mention that if Grades Are
>Everything...well,

>Just as a matter of argument <g> has anyone considered that maybe cheating
>in a test might be *sensible* for some people? It might be the bright thing
>to do - to get what you need to go on to what you want to do.

Depends on the hurdle.  Depends on the requirement.  I just got finished
getting my new driver's license (for Utah).  The requirements for this, if
you have a good record and a current license from some other state, are to
stand in a really long line waiting for one of the two tellers to stop
chatting with her neighbor, and then to take a short test on driving rules
and regulations.  It's an open book test--the assumption being that you
already know how to drive and haven't killed anyone yet.  When you apply for
your first license, though, it's a longer test, you have to do it without
any help, and you have to take an actual driving test in an actual car with
an actual flunky from the DPS.

My point is, if Jacob had actually hung around to get his license renewed
when I did (ha ha, he's been gone for over an hour now) and we'd whispered
the answers to each other (assuming they gave us the same test) it wouldn't
have been fundamentally different than what I actually did, which was use
the skills I developed through years of secondary education to skim through
the manual.  The proof of my deserving a license isn't based on my knowledge
of when to turn left or right safely, but by my doing it correctly on the
road.  The DPS (sorry, Department of Public Safety, and why aren't they out
there cuffing people who refuse to use their turn signals?) test is a
barrier to entry--just like Sally's friend Dianne's HSC exam, like the bar
exam American lawyers have to pass, like the ACT or SAT exams high school
students take that determine which universities might accept them as
students.  It doesn't say anything about her ability to perform.

But then what if she'd continued to cheat through nursing school?  What if
she'd gotten someone to fudge her grades to show that she knew more about
nursing and midwifery than she actually did?  That's not someone I want
attending me at my delivery.  (Granted, I intend to be in a hospital
attached to an epidural drip, but that's beside the point.)  That's the kind
of cheating that's a problem--endemic, long-term, designed to make yourself
look better than you are or seem to know more than you do. 

>I can quite see that cheating to get into college would be a problem if you
>hadn't the brains to start with, but there are jobs by the hundred that
>call for exam results in subjects you will never need in the work. 

There are other barriers to entry that don't make sense either.  Jacob can
tell you all about how he started his career in computer programming armed
with a degree in English lit.  Employers will say they're looking for
someone with a computer science degree, or with so many years of experience
in a certain field, but that's because looking at the objective evidence is
easier than field-testing potential employees and evaluating their
performance.  Hence the stupid unrelated tests, probably.

Melissa Proffitt
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