Student Cheating: Reasons and Consequences

Why do students cheat in Korea? A major factor is the tremendous amount of pressure they are under to succeed.

I’ve heard a lot of disturbing things in my close to three years at the same hagwon in Korea. Kids will tell you anything. Their parents won’t let them out of the house. Make them stay up late studying. Deny them any free time to play outside with friends. No TV, no games. Only kimchi and rice to eat. Physical harm… I wish I was kidding about that.

One situation in particular has really bothered me. Frankly, it makes me sick.

In an all staff meeting not too long ago, while discussing troubled students, the topic turned to students who cheat. We went around the room, ratting out guilty children while my boss wrote down their names. When a certain little girl’s name came up, my boss said casually, “Her mother beats her. I know, she told me she does. She told me when she brings home bad grades, she beats [our student].

She got a phone call right after it was said and left the room. While she was gone, I asked the other four teachers in the room if that bothered them, how non-chalant our boss tossed that awful statement out there, as if it was no big deal. The only person to reply was the other foreign teacher, agreeing that it was messed up.

A week later, I caught that very student using a cheat sheet of paper to complete the answers on a review test in my class.

In that situation, what would you do? Turn her in, leading her straight into the lion’s den of heavy handed parenting? Let it slide? Address it with her, but nobody else? What kind of score do you give her on the test, knowing that a zero score would alert the parent? Do you tell your boss? What if your boss tells the parent?

The intricacies of teaching aren’t always fun.

Before I tell you what I did, let me reveal the results of a non-scientific poll I took on Facebook:

-That’s tough. I would have done the same as you but that’s a tough scenerio.
-Yeah thats really tough
-I would have done the same as you…boy that’s a tough one..
-Address on the side with the student but don’t inform the parent.
-You should also have a conversation with the student as well…keep it between you and her but let her know you are watching!!
-Give the kid an A, cut the moms break lines just before you head to the airport.
-I would have done the same, but would have let her know I caught her and she better NEVER do it again! Teaching is a tough job friend 🙂
-Beat the kids mom.
-A for Planning, C- for Execution of the plan.. Sounds like a smart kid, needs more practice.. Maybe an accomplice.
-Apparently I cheated in school “break” lines hahahaha
-Once i gave a lecture about how to cheat and that s what happend: they were shocked, they found it hilarious, no one ever cheated in that class.

I let the kid finish the test. After she was done, I calmly asked that she give me the piece of paper. Normally very defiant, on this circumstance she looked at me with the fear of God in her eyes, knowing she was caught, and handed it over without a fight. I did so fairly privately, so not too many of the other kids would see. I told her not to freak out, and we’d talk about it later.

The next day, I gave the cheat sheet to my boss and let her know who it came from. I also told her I was deeply disturbed by her comments regarding the actions of this child’s parent, and didn’t understand the relaxed attitude towards this kind of parenting. I let my boss know that I was leaving the grade as is (clearly cheating did her no good, the score was 58/100), as to not alert the parent because I couldn’t morally contribute the abuse of a child, regardless of her classroom behavior.

When it comes down to it, cheating is not OK. At times, it may seem acceptable in Korea, a necessary evil as a result of this overly demanding educational system, but it’s not. My boss sat the student down and let the child know we are aware of what she has been doing (other teachers have caught her before), and any more of this kind of behavior would result in a phone call to her mother.

Not sure whether or not that would happen, but please kid, if you know what’s good for you, do your own work from here on out.

Teaching conundrums like this make me sad.


~ by ripcitytoseoul on December 21, 2011.

3 Responses to “Student Cheating: Reasons and Consequences”

  1. I am an advocate for corporal punishment. I believe kids should get physical punishments if the action calls for it. I was brought up by a strong hand and believe I am better for it. Of course, it has to be fair, and consistent. There is a thin line between discipline and abuse. I would glad beat the shit out of your kid if you are too pansy to do it yourself.

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