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NYTimes Readers Discuss Cheating

October 21, 2008
NYTimes Letters  

NYTimes Letters

Here. The related editorial is here. Kids, it seems, were so much better back in the day–honest, with rock-solid integrity, perfect manners, and fantastic hygiene. It must have been all the walking to and from school every day. Barefoot. Ten miles. In the snow. It’s character-building, you see.  

Seriously: the editorial argues that reported cheating behaviors have risen so precipitously since the mid-sixties because of our society’s crumbling moral fiber and hatred of the magic of learning. And while I agree that America is growing so anti-intellectual it’s a wonder we haven’t started actually burning our professors and scientists at the stake, only a few of the letters even touch on the main reason I, and everyone I knew in high school, ever cheated: exhaustion. Five or six AP classes, extracurriculars, jobs, and the modest shred of a social life no teenager would (or should) abandon–all during the years students need ten or twelve hours of sleep a night, shifted toward a schedule that comes into direct conflict with an 8:00-3:00 school day. We respected the value of our educations plenty–otherwise why bother?–but there often weren’t enough hours in the day to get work of any quality done. The demands on students have skyrocketed in the forty years since the study began: the problem isn’t some new lack of integrity, it’s a new lack of balance.

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