The Big Picture: Honesty
“I’d rather be able to face myself in the bathroom mirror than be rich and famous.”
I created a handbook of classroom regulations and procedures for my fifth graders during my second and third years of teaching in New York.
Here’s an excerpt from it:
Academic dishonesty (e.g., cheating, copying, plagiarizing) will not be tolerated. You will receive a 0 on any assignment that is proven to be academically dishonest. Further, all incidences of academic dishonesty will be referred to both the principal and your parent/guardian.
Remember, getting a 20% on a test is better than getting a 0! Be smart, do your own work, and keep your eyes on your own paper.
Does this passage sound a little harsh? Perhaps. However, I truly believe that it’s my responsibility, as a teacher, to teach my students the importance of being honest. Academic Dishonesty is the first, of many, ways that I attempt to teach my students to be honest citizens (though many already are). Lying, cheating, and stealing are amongst the worst crimes in society. After all, once someone is caught being dishonest, it’s very hard for them to earn back a good reputation. Therefore, by being honest with my students about my feelings towards things like academic dishonesty helps me communicate, to them, the importance of being an upstanding citizen who does the right thing, even when it’s hard.
The bottom line or the big picture is that, first and foremost, we have to teach our students to be honest. After all, I’d imagine it’s pretty hard for someone to look at themselves in the mirror at the end of the day if they’re dishonest.