Thursday, December 04, 2008

Another reason to homeschool - to teach your children to be honest

Today I came across a couple articles about the youth today being dishonest.

Joanne Jacobs in Professors vs. cheaters writes:

Universities Wimp Out on Fighting Cheaters writes Greg Forster on Pajamas Media. Software makes it easy to catch plagiarists, he says. But the instructor is all alone in deciding what to do about it.

Dr. Helen has a long post which asks Are teens more ethically-challenged now than in the past? One of her key points is

Unethical behavior is often overlooked in our society today--there are few consequences for acts of lying, cheating or even stealing.

The average child in public school spends six to seven hours a day in class. Additionally there is the travel time to and from school, the lunch break, and all the homework afterwards. Public schools have a huge influence on children. Currently in the United States many public schools do very little to teach or enforce honestly. Children routinely cheat, and there are few consequences.

At one end of the spectrum are children will be honest almost no matter what. At the other end are children who will try to game the system, to get away with something. In the middle are a large group of children who are still forming their moral compass. If they see little down side to lying or cheating, they'll give it a try. (This kind of socialization is one reason some parents will homeschool their children.)

In the battle to teach children ethics and morals parents with children in public schools are fighting with one hand behind their back. They can win the battle, but they are handicapped. They are often doing damage control. Parents have to repair damage.

Our daughters do get exposure to the evils in the world, but it is low enough doses that they are still shocked by it. They are getting something like 90% positive input from us on the importance of being honest, hard working, moral, and so on. So the 10% negative has little impact.

Homeschooling allows parents to be very effective in the battle for their child's character.

(Update I - 5 Dec 08)

The Headmistress has some good thoughts on this issue. In Ethics Crisis in Nation's Youth she explores one of the reasons for the lack of honesty and integrity:

In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson writes that our culture has imbibed the harmful "assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials.

As they say, read the whole post.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education


Sebastian said...

I do interviews for a college with a strict honor concept. This is a well advertised and integral part of this school. Yet I've been surprised to interview students who are applying who confess that they would find it hard to follow an honor concept, especially if it involved confronting or turning in someone they knew.
Have you followed the saga of the instructor from the Texas A&M school who resigned when the school wouldn't back him up for failing six plagarists?

Henry Cate said...

The story sounds vaguely familar. Was this recent? Do you have a link to a news article?

Marni said...

Sometime while I was in high school, I remember my brother talking about all the things he had learned in school, one being "how to cheat."

Anonymous said...

It seems that there is a much bigger payoff for cheating in schools than the potential risk.

The push for performance creates an environment where cheating relieves the stress of having to live up to someone else's constant expectations to do things that don't have any obvious or immediate payoff. The payoff is the kudos for getting a good grade, or more commonly, avoiding the negative attention of having done poorly on an assignment/test or not having done it at all. In other words, cheating is a way to make life easier.

Unfortunately, the solution of the schools is to punish cheaters when they can. But that doesn't work in teaching morals, because it teaches kids that cheating is OK so long as you don't get caught. It's getting caught that brings about punishment, not the cheating itself.

Take away the need for kids to cheat, and they won't. Take away the pay off for cheating, and they won't. That's why homeschool kids don't cheat - they don't have a reason to.

The moral side of cheating isn't an issue in school, because it hurts nobody, and the person cheating loses nothing. When there's no payoff for cheating, then it becomes a moral issue, and a personal decision, rather than a coping mechanism.

Two different reasons for cheating, and should be handled and discussed differently.

Henry Cate said...

Marni, I think a good lesson to learn is how other people cheat. It is an eye opening moment. We should not cheat, but knowing how other people do, helps us to be more cautious.