Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cheating Students: How Our Schools Fail the Humanistic Vision of Education

by: Tommy Raskin
Published in the May / June 2013 Humanist

Students cheat in high school. In fact, a lot of high school students cheat routinely. A 2010 study conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics found that at least 59 percent of high school students had cheated on a test in the past year, and over 33 percent had cheated more than twice. People who work in our high schools know that cheating is rampant but they ignore it: the constant whispering during tests, the scrawled answers on forearms, the use of cell phone cameras to take pictures of “cheat sheets” before finals. Meanwhile, non-cheating students don’t blow the whistle on rule violations because they want to avoid being labeled “snitches” and “jerks.”

However, it’s dangerous to ignore the cheating epidemic because it reflects the absence of effective education, which has always been the source of human progress and enlightenment. Cheating reflects a deep social crisis that cannot be solved with more tests, more test proctors, more test preparation, and more test anxiety, which is the usual bureaucratic response these days. Ultimately, the cheating crisis can only be solved by rethinking our schools, which are currently modeled after Industrial-Age factories, and redesigning them to fit the educational and moral requirements of modern society.

The nature of work changed in the wake of industrialization in the nineteenth century. The employee no longer built a product alone as a craftsman or tended to the field as a farmer, but rather worked on an assembly line in which he or she repeated the same mundane tasks. The fulfillment of work was lost in the regime of strict oversight, frequent punishments, and inhumane conditions in which factory workers were forced to operate. For tardiness, workers were beaten or fired. The productive process allowed for no active or stimulating thought, and people worked only out of a necessity to make a meager salary in order to survive. The Enlightenment values of inquiry, tolerance, and autonomy championed by Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire, and others were traded for factory life and industrial organization.

Modern-day schooling is still shaped by this disciplinarian industrial model, which became dominant in the twentieth century. “Learning” (like work) is a means to the end of good grades (like wages). Learning is not meant to be intrinsically enjoyable in school. All the school administrations I’ve experienced have placed a bizarre emphasis on discipline, not student engagement, as the key to success. Schools develop elaborate three-page absence policies that punish students for being away from the classroom, and generally prevent students from obtaining credits anywhere but the classroom. But if school is so great, why do we need to scare kids into going? Why do school systems need huge armies of truant officers to coerce daily attendance? Like the activity in industrial factories, much of schoolwork isn’t fun, engaging, or inspiring, and people only put up with it so that they can graduate, go to college, and then reap the economic benefits they’re promised for getting diplomas. What a waste of talent.

For Full Article: http://thehumanist.org/may-june-2013/cheating-students-how-our-schools-fail-the-humanistic-vision-of-education/

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh
Excellent article.

Yes. Mahatma Gandhiji’s views on Education with human values especially at the school level are still relevant today.

Here is an excellent short article,” Relevance Of Gandhian Ideals In The Scheme Of Value Education” by P. I. Devraj & Shyamala K.( Comprehensive Site By Gandhian Institute Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal & Gandhi Research Foundation)

“The importance of providing value education is felt necessary today because the present system of education cannot contribute much to the individual and social development. Value-oriented education does not mean preaching of mere moral sciences or propagating particular religious tenets, but it is imparting knowledge of values considered functional for both individual as well as society.

Gandhi's philosophical, religious, economic and social approach and a number of contemporary Gandhian perspectives are relevant to an understanding of human values and social change today. By Gandhian ideals in the education policy, we will be able to inspire the whole world by his ideas of truth, nonviolence, peace and love.

Gandhi frequently asserted that mass illiteracy is a curse that hampers the development of a nation. He wrote: " I am a firm believer in the principle of free and compulsory primary education for India". Gandhi felt that education should not only increase knowledge but also develop culture in heart and hand. Another of Gandhi's interests lay in character building. Education without character building was not education according to him. He considered a strong character as the basic of a good citizen. So the issues of character building through value-based education on the one hand and that of integrating science and technology on the other hand have to go together.

So we, in the contemporary situation, have to draw a balanced evaluation of science because its progress has a great role to play in determining the directions of value education.

In order to bring about social change we have to channelize human values through education. Truth and nonviolence can generate human values. Declaring the importance of nonviolence, he said: "Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my reed." He further added: "Without Ahimsa it is not possible to seek and find truth, Ahimsa and truth are so intertwined that it is practically impossible to disintegrate and separate them. They are like the two sides of the same coin." Development of peace and security through cooperation seems to be essential for the modern society's progress and prosperity. This is possible because values and improvement are intertwined.

Value education in the sense of gaining knowledge of values is not enough but have to be realized and loved by selecting the values which are relevant and best suited to the needs of our country. Gandhi infused in us a
hope through his ideals of love, tolerance, truth, nonviolence and service of mankind which are even more relevant today than they were in his own time and they will continue to exercise a lasting influence in our society.

It may be said that the foundations of an ideal civilization as conceived by Gandhi was based on Truth and Nonviolence as the integrally related means and ends. They are values central to any society because all human relations in the social, political as well as economic spheres are influenced by them in one
way or the other. They are to be the standards and goals of our society. These can also become the foundations of a more peaceful and happy world order which is very much the need of mankind today.”

In the field of education and especially in society today, "humanistic education" is the subject of considerable interest and controversy. Many people of good will immediately react "for it" or "against it," depending on previous experience with the term...Actually, the term means many different things to different people. Humanistic education is an educational approach. Most educators who advocate humanistic education typically intend this approach to mean one or more of three things:

1. Humanistic education teaches a wide variety of skills which are needed to function in today's world--basic skills such as reading, writing and computation, as well as skills in communicating, thinking, decision-making, problem-solving and knowing oneself.

2. Humanistic education is a humane approach to education--one that helps students believe in themselves and their potential, that encourages compassion and understanding, that fosters self-respect and respect for others.

3. Humanistic education deals with basic human concerns--with the issues throughout
history and today that are of concern to human beings trying to improve the quality of life--to pursue knowledge, to grow, to love, to find meaning for one's existence.

Humanistic education methods are used in public and private schools, the family, religious education, business and other settings.

Humanistic education is essential for preparing young people to be citizens in a democracy.If democracy is to work, its citizens must be educated. They must know how to gather information, distinguish fact from opinion, analyze propaganda, understand many different viewpoints, understand justice, think for themselves, communicate their opinions clearly, and work with others for the common good. These are among the most important skills that humanistic education seeks to teach our youth.

The concept of Gurukulam in India and Folkeschools in Denmark is to develop humanistic values.

It is hoped the Ministry of Human Resource Development,State Governments,Agencies connected with Education and others will contribute towards evolving a True Humanistic Value based education fitting to the culture and traditions of our great country.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP), India

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