The theory “Survival of the Fittest” first coined by Social Darwinists in the 19th century argued that the “fittest” ones, or those who possess the most useful skills to adapt to the environment, would be the last ones standing.
In schools today where they mirror the merciless and cruel competition of society, the most important skill to possess is neither knowledge nor critical thinking; it is knowing how to cheat. Inside a cage where lions, rabbits and sloths are all expected to not only perform the same tasks but also excel at them, the only factor that seemingly puts the competitors on an equal playing field is cheating.
Uneven distribution of opportunities is an inevitable fact of life; simply, some are handed running shoes while others are born with no feet. However, the biggest flaw of today’s education system is that despite the different learning methods, strengths and weaknesses and different interests, students are forced into a fixed curriculum.
The most puzzling part of today’s education system that directly leads to cheating is the way teachers set up students to be competitors instead of companions. Teachers expect all students to understand complex ideas in very little time – correction – teachers expect students to memorize them in a given time, and some are even indifferent about whether or not all students understand the concepts completely. For students who lack memorization skills therefore fail the tests, this method of teaching appears as if the teachers are handing off their responsibilities to the students for not being intelligent enough.
Recently, there was a mass cheating incident in an AP course. A group estimated of 50 plus students worked cooperatively to cheat on a semester final. Teachers expressed extreme disappointment and had to make unusual decisions that affected the entire department, but shockingly, the students who were involved in this showed almost no sentiments of regret or apologies. In fact, those who got caught have easily brushed off and moved on as if nothing happened, completely disregarding the effect this incident had on the entire department, let alone the whole school.
Truth be told, students, especially those who took part in this cheating incident, will not stop cheating. This was not the first time that had happened, and it will not be the last. Cheating has become not only a norm but also an absolute necessity for students in order to reach the expectations set by society.
Teachers stress that it is not the shiny grades and report cards that they are expecting. They tell us that it is the growth that matters –as long as the students show improvement, their work is done. However, this is not parallel to the students’ expectations nor do growth within grades below an A or a B meet many of the colleges’ standards. No matter how much the value of true education is emphasized, the arbitrary pressure that students and the “real world” the adults keep indoctrinating into the students’ heads leave the students with no choice but to cheat.
From a student’s point of view, the basic flaws lie on the education system that stresses the importance of memorization and the end results. However, there is also no way to implement the perfect system, whatever that may be, to all students. This mass cheating incident depicts the problems that arose from both the educators’ as well as the students’ side. Both sides hold equal and separate responsibilities, as the action of cheating itself means something far deeper than one poorly made decision.