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Thread: Punishment for Cheating

  1. #1

    Punishment for Cheating

    My seven year old had a rough day Friday. He was caught cheating on a spelling test at school. One of his extra-credit words was *St. Nicholas* and his teacher saw him looking at a bulletin board where -- Lo! and Behold! -- was the name Nicholas (one of his classmates). She made him tear up his spelling test in front of the class resulting in a grade of zero (out of a possible 102).

    His teacher sent home a note saying that he would tell me what transpired, and he did. The school has a very strict policy about cheating, but I understand the rules are not being invoked aside from the test score. I sent a note today asking for additional information about what happened.

    I'm a little bemused by the whole episode. He knew the spelling words cold when I quizzed him Thursday evening, including *St. Nicholas*, so I'm a little skeptical that he was in fact cheating. (Then again, I wasn't there, so I don't have any context.)

    I want to make sure he understands that cheating is the big NO-NO. (I have no doubt right now that he will probably never cheat on a test again...) But, isn't the teacher at least a little culpable for leaving the name on the bulletin board? A grade of zero seems a bit much to me. Should I just give it a rest, or what?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    But, isn't the teacher at least a little culpable for leaving the name on the bulletin board?
    Yes.

    Someone’s paper would deserve a 0, but this is just your child being a little too observant.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    I give him credit for being clever enough to be able to "check" his answer from the board.

    Definitely let him know that cheating is wrong, but don't discourage him from using common sense and cleverness.....it can only help him learn in the future. I'd chat with the teacher and see what you can do about it....a zero for the teacher's own boo-boo for leaving the name on the board seems harsh.
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    In ancient Sparta there was no punishment for stealing. There was, however, punishment for getting caught. The question is what lesson do you wish to reinforce here?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    You've got to be ****ing kidding me!

    That kid deserves to being in a gifted program for using his problem-solving/observation skills! The teacher is probably mad because she didn't catch that on the board. It's not like the kid set up a process for cheating by adding things to the board; he just used all the resources available.

    That was not cheating--that was a sign of intelligence.

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  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    wow... this sure seems harsh, considering that the teacher should have thought of that possibility beforehand, and your kid should pay the price for her mistake, Gedunker; although you should reinforce him that cheating is wrong. Heck, I never cheated in school and I had preety good grades, and those who cheated got worse grades than I... oh the irony!

  7. #7
    maudit anglais
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    I don't think he was cheating at all - the teacher should be ashamed of his/her behaviour. Should Nicholas only be able to get a possible 101/102 since his name was one of the words?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    That kid deserves to being in a gifted program for using his problem-solving/observation skills! The teacher is probably mad because she didn't catch that on the board. It's not like the kid set up a process for cheating by adding things to the board; he just used all the resources available.

    That was not cheating--that was a sign of intelligence.
    I agree. It's not like he was looking over the shoulder of a fellow classmate or had the list up his sleeve.

    I just re-read your post. It was an EXTRA CREDIT word, and not even part of the actual test??? WOW.... I think you need to talk with the teacher.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I will add my name to the chorus that this is a bit of overkill. Were any of the other words also so readily available? I could see discounting the extra credit question, but then it should be discounted for everyone. Obviously putting what turns out to be one of the kids in the classroom's name on the spelling test gives that child a clear advantage. I would take this issue to the principal, and higher if necessary.

    I also agree with those who ask "is it cheating to use the resources available within the room?" Cheating would be to bring a list of words or to look at another's test. I mean, if staring off into the distance while thinking about a question gets to be cheating, then I probably should have gotten all zero's in school.

    The same teacher probably allows them to use calculators for math!
    Planning is much like acting, as my old theater professor used to say, "If you sin, sin boldly, only you know if you are ad libbing." I follow this adage almost daily.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    And exactly is this fair to every kid in the class not named Nicholas? Nicholas would certainly know how to spell his own name! Why doesn't every kid get points for spelling their own name properly on the test? A test like this gives Nicholas a free answer! I think you should complain about the teacher playing favorites.
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  11. #11
    That is complete crap! The teacher is probably mad because the kid made her look like an idiot. I would go in and talk to the teacher and demand that she not give him a zero. The teacher should not award extra credit points but to punish your kid like that for something that she screwed up is absurd. I would also get the principal involved.
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  12. #12
    First of all, exactly what life skill is he gaining by learning to spell "nicholas"? With a first and fourth grader, I am increasingly bothered by the teaching of non-skills. As many of can attest, the spelling of names does not always follow the accepted "rules" of spelling in the english language. In that light, the teacher needs to reassess her teaching priorities and start teaching the kids something that they can actually use.

    Secondly, while there is a need here to provide an object lesson to you son about cheating, I would also commend his resourcefullness and make sure that he understands that in the "real world" such resourcefullness is an important attribute for a person to have.

    When similar situations have come up in the past with my children, I have found that a very simple and brief discussion with the teacher generally yields favorable results. I would highly recommend setting up a conference with him/her and discussing the issue in a straightforward and frank manner.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I would personally praise your child for being innovative as to know where to find the correct answer with little effort. Furthermore, I think that the teacher is more at fault. If he/she did not want any of the children to know where to find the answer, then she should have removed it from the board.

    Did she tear up the paper of the kid whose name was Nicholas? It could be said that his name gave him an unfair advantage unless she plans on having every kids’ name on a test at some point during the school year.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    ....She made him tear up his spelling test in front of the class resulting in a grade of zero (out of a possible 102)....
    You know, I also have a BIG problem with her making him tear up his test in front of his class. How humiliating and degrading to him. He is SEVEN years old.
    I don't know that this would be appropriate even if he really had been cheating. I think children need to know there are consequences to their actions, but making him stand up there and tear up his test? Don't (or shouldn't) most day cares, preschools, schools, etc. make it part of their policy to not punish by humiliation tactics? I am disgusted by this teacher.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by DennisMaPlanner
    The same teacher probably allows them to use calculators for math!
    Hum.. using a claculator for math, isn't cheating... it's using the technology available to solve problems, although in Elementary school I do support the ban of calculators, because otherwise kids won't even learn how to mentally multiply 1x10 But for University level Calculus or math... I'd like to see you try and not use a calculator! Also in high school kids should be tought how to use calculators, for their own good.. (ok, maybe in the US they do, but around here..... )

  16. #16
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Teacher is a moron....

    I think the teacher is a moron! Give extra credit to those kids astute enough to notice that the name is spelled the same At the end of the lesson, the teacher should have pointed out the name on the board and then went on to explain how looking at the name, was NOT cheating, rather a case of observation.....after all, how does the kid know that the names are spelled the same anyway....? The name on the board could have been spelled, Nickolus or Nicolus or Nycolous or whatever.....
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    The teacher probably went overboard... but I'd probably just let it be.

    Of course, alot of it depends on how your kid handled it. I know my daughter would be very distraught about getting a zero on a test. I'd probably just let her know that although the punishment probably didn't fit the crime, cheating is wrong, in the general scheme of things, one zero in elementary school won't make a big difference. The bottom line is that your teacher believed what happened is cheating.

    While the teacher did go overboard, the last thing I would want to do is to give my child the impression that the teacher's authority is something to be questioned. The teacher may make a mistake and be harsh, but what the teacher says goes. Teachers put up with alot of crap and don't get paid diddly poo. The last thing a teacher needs is a kid who doesn't respect them with parents who reinforce that thought.

    If anything, it may be an opportunity for your child to learn that even adults make mistakes. My daughter was floored when we went to Charleston this past summer and she found out some of things that her teacher had told her were incorrect.
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  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton
    Hum.. using a claculator for math, isn't cheating... it's using the technology available to solve problems, although in Elementary school I do support the ban of calculators, because otherwise kids won't even learn how to mentally multiply 1x10 But for University level Calculus or math... I'd like to see you try and not use a calculator! Also in high school kids should be tought how to use calculators, for their own good.. (ok, maybe in the US they do, but around here..... )
    My point exactly, if she/he allows them to use a calculator for math, she/he should also allow the use of the technology available - what is visible in the classroom - for the spelling test. Say you had a child with dysgraphia (mine) who has a problem correctly transcribing letters, does having the alphabet available on the wall to allow the child to correctly see how each is drawn amount to cheating?

    Sorry, but I did not use my first calculator until I got into college, but then there weren't too many small handheld calculators back then. Now I see it on the local cable access channel as a required piece of equipment for grade school children.
    Planning is much like acting, as my old theater professor used to say, "If you sin, sin boldly, only you know if you are ad libbing." I follow this adage almost daily.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    She made him tear up his spelling test in front of the class resulting in a grade of zero (out of a possible 102).
    Maybe she should have written a big 0 on it with a green pen?

    Seems a bit over the top.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I'm going to echo the others and say that it was no crime. If the answer is in plain sight of everyone in the room, then it is not cheating.
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    I hope that your son is suffering too much because of this incident. I have a problem with the teacher's making your son tear up his paper in front of the class. I don't know how I feel about whether or not he cheated, but if you know that he knew the word, then you know that he didn't have to cheat. (however, if the friend spelled his name NIKOLAS, and a student used that spelling, well, that would be cheating).

    It is fine to use a student as an example, but to humiliate one by making them act out their punishment in front of the class is unnecessary.

    Now, if your son attends public school, should St. Anyone ever be a spelling word?

    I mean, I hope your son isn't suffering too much.

  22. #22
    Okay, a couple things to add:

    1). He attends a Catholic elementary, so there are no Separation issues

    2). *St. Nicholas* and *Nicholas* are indeed spelled identically.

    3). He is performing above-grade level in all academic areas. Like most 7-yr old boys, he has his moments, but our parent-teacher conference was positive and upbeat. He is something of a *favorite*.

    4). He is not being punished under the school cheating policy. Indeed, he came home that day with a "yellow card" which is a mild rebuke. (Cards are a system the teacher uses to maintain order and inform parents as to the child's behavior during the day.)

    5). The teacher is very experienced, highly qualified and dedicated. I think she recognizes her culpability in the matter --as many of you have noted -- which is why he is not being punished more severely.

    6). I think having him rip up his test in front of his classmates may have been over-the-top.

    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    In ancient Sparta there was no punishment for stealing. There was, however, punishment for getting caught. The question is what lesson do you wish to reinforce here?
    This is precisely what I am wrestling. I still do not feel that I have all the facts in order to measure my response to reinforce an important lesson.
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  23. #23
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    I'd say the teacher owes your child an apology... in front of the class where he had to rip up his test. This is absurd on a grand scale, where an adult professional should have laughed, given the extra credit to the entire class, and perhaps explained the difference between cheating and using common sense.
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  24. #24
    The kid is 7 for pete's sake! If he found the answer by remembering the board he did well. Tearing up the test in front of the class is definatly over the top. Let kids be kids. With a score of 102 he should have been congratulated!!

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    1). He attends a Catholic elementary... I think having him rip up his test in front of his classmates may have been over-the-top.
    My wife says those two might be related. When she was in Catholic school, pretty much all punishment was dealt with in front of the class, regardless of the infraction. Still a bit harsh... but maybe it's SOP.
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