Once again, for about the umpteenth time this year, I find myself having to deal with students I’ve caught cheating in my class. It makes me angry, it makes me discouraged, and it makes me feel…cheap.
Yes, cheap. Like I’ve been used. Like it wasn’t just my test but me, personally, who was cheated on.
It’s not that silly of an analogy. I try to trust students, want to enjoy our time in class, working on something I deeply feel to be important, only to find that I’ve been lied to. Like anyone who’s been cheated on in a relationship–even a work relationship–I have to wonder how many times it’s happened before, when I haven’t caught them. How many days have I spent giving them the best of myself that I could, totally blind to the fact that they were consciously deceiving me, making a mockery of everything I thought our working relationship stood for?
Actually, all these instances of dishonesty in the classroom make me feel worse than cheated on. If some students are so set on simply getting to that reward at the end of the relationship–the grade, that fun payoff that they feel entitled to indulge in, without all the messy work, discipline, and sacrifice that goes into naturally earning the fruits of relationships–you know what that makes me in the cheater’s eyes? A prostitute. “Don’t bore me with all that sappy stuff about commitment and responsibility; just gimme the answers I want.” Isn’t that nice?
I don’t know how such dishonest, fraudulent working relationships work in real life, but in my classroom metaphor, I can tell you that once the truth has been exposed to me, I certainly lose all respect for the cheaters who think they can use me and what I work for like some kind of object who exists to serve them.
It gets difficult sometimes to work with people who clearly have no respect for school. I’ll take this opportunity to echo what a local newspaper editor wrote two days ago about more children needing to drop out of school.