The story that follows keeps running through my mind, disturbing my inner peace. It occurred several weeks ago while I worked. As a teacher I take plagiarism seriously. Repeatedly, I explain that it is cheating and ultimately a form of stealing. Yes, stealing. When students cheat, copy another’s work whether from some famous author or from the student by them, they are stealing from that person, and in reality cheating themselves, cheating themselves from learning what may have proven to be valuable information or a needed skill later in life.
Several weeks ago, a former, talented student asked to observe my classes as part of his assignment from a college class. He sat in on a couple of classes, many of the students already knew him, and I explained his purpose in being there. At the end of the day, while we chatted about the past and his excellent grades when he attended my English class, he informed me that he frequently writes not only his own papers but also the papers for another student, who was also a former student and perfectly able to write decent papers himself. He told me that the student for whom he writes these papers pays him either with money or beer. Too astonished to adequately respond, I kept silent. However, this continues to haunt me, not only because my opinion of the student plummeted but also because he plans to be a coach and teacher himself. Will he later realize the unacceptability of his behavior, how unethical and immoral? Will he change when he becomes a teacher himself?
I also remain unhappy with myself for not saying something to him immediately. My shock really is not an excuse. I now promise myself that if I do see him again soon, I will definitely explain my dismay and sadness with his story. I also wonder why he told me? Regardless, I worry for the future if this is the type of person who will replace current teachers. I also wonder how many current teachers find this sort of behavior normal, acceptable.