Cheating Or Thinking Outside of the Box?

Like most people, I have certain ethical misgivings of things I did when I was younger and the biggest one is cheating in school. I don’t have children and the only advice I’d give them if I did was, if you get caught, you’re asking for trouble, so I’d advise against it. I probably should be saying the company line that “you’re only cheating yourself” instead but my problem is, are they? I wish I knew the answer to that question but I don’t. I only cheated a few times in high school and graduate school – I never cheated as a College Undergraduate, whoopee, and I’m not completely sure if what I did was wrong or in several cases actually cheating. For all I know I might be called innovative and thinking outside the box if I did similar things today at work!

In high school, I was smart enough to figure out that one of my teachers gave us monthly tests taken strictly out of the Teacher’s Edition text book which meant he didn’t have to prepare any tests. The tests themselves were rather hard and I studied diligently for the first test and only got a C- for all my effort. I didn’t see a positive end in sight but then like Beavis and Butthead, a “light bulb idea” hit me and I thought why not see if I could buy the Teacher’s Edition? If the teacher didn’t want to take the time to prepare his own test why shouldn’t I see if I can order the Teacher’s Edition textbook with the tests in them? I contacted a bunch of book stores and while I couldn’t order the Teacher ‘s Edition with the tests, I did the next best thing and ordered the Student Auxiliary text book with similar type study questions but not the exact test questions. This resulted in me knowing exactly what to study and getting A’s or A- on every test and the girls in my class looking at me in amazement as they considered me pretty stupid! Neither the teacher nor anyone else knew I had the book and it took me a lot of time to locate and order it. I don’t know if this was actually cheating or taking advantage of a situation that was presented to me because I thought of it.

The only other time I cheated in High School was for my Math Final, a variance of the situation above. I know what I did was ethically wrong and it was clearly cheating but I’ve always rationalized it because my Math teacher was a lousy teacher as well as a lousy person. I had a B average going into the final but for the last 2 months or so, I didn’t understand what he was teaching and he didn’t help me when I asked. He also was lazy and giving us tests taken straight from the textbook’s teacher’s edition. As I had done OK on my own prior to the last 2 months, I never tried to see if I could obtain the auxiliary textbook for it. A friend of mine was in the same boat and for some reason it turned out there was no auxiliary textbook but there was in fact a Teacher’s Edition with the Final. Somehow we managed to order it, I still don’t know how, and we both got A’s. My friend like an idiot told someone else who told someone else and by the time we were done about half of the boys in the class had the test answers or at least thought they did. We didn’t get caught because we agreed to give someone else the multiple choice answers and made a few of them incorrect. They in turn changed their’s and so on. The result was that the kid who got it last got D’s! I shouldn’t laugh but I think its funny!

I didn’t cheat in College at all but I did cheat once in Graduate School. I had to take a mandatory course and the Professor taught the course by calling on people randomly all the time. I found this intimidating and didn’t learn anything this way and as he didn’t know my name, I cut all my classes as I couldn’t deal with it. Our entire grade was based on just one thing, a Final. I studied and studied but nothing I could do really sunk in. I was worried sick and 3 days before the Final, I realized I was going to flunk unless I could think of something. So once again, I had my Big Beavis and Butthead idea and realized that the classroom was empty at least two hours before the Final and I came in and wrote in pencil on the desk crib notes on the desk and as a result managed to pass the test and used my palm to erase what I wrote on the desk.

What’s the moral of all this? Trouble is, I don’t know!