As parents, we are responsible for and concerned about our children’s conduct. I believe that in the same way, each school is responsible for and should be concerned about the behavior of its students. When a new graduate lacks basic skills for the job, cannot deliver or satisfy the demands of the job, is unable to demonstrate or defend the claim of his/her transcript, not only is he/she embarrassed, but also is the school and, by extension, the church. There should be a close relationship between transcripts, knowledge demonstrated, and conduct displayed. The following are four general recommendations to educators that can help deal with classroom cheating.
- Train teachers: Teachers at all levels are the front line servants. By virtue of their positions, they are also delegated to manage their classes, implement rules and regulations, and report inconsistencies as they observe them. Additionally, and probably most importantly, they come from a variety of backgrounds and religious beliefs. Therefore, they need to be prepared for the task ahead of them through a series of training focusing on—among many other areas—the philosophy of Adventist education. According to Larry Blackmer (2008), “By definition every Adventist educator is a minister to youth.” But how many educators feel this way? Lastly, it’s important to remember that not every teacher in Adventist schools is an Adventist. Even Adventists come with different understandings. Therefore, they all need to be brought to the same page through training.
- Apply the Nehemiah Strategy: Focus on the mission and stay engaged (Nehemiah 4). Nehemiah rallied his people to restore the demolished structures in Jerusalem. In spite of the ongoing Sanballat distracting, threatening, and discouraging his force, he stayed focused and was able to persuade and influence people using his good leadership skills. All of this caused them to trust him by holding a weapon on one hand and construction tools in the other (verse 17). Thus, Adventist educators need to be aware of the distracting forces that impede the learning progress and plan how to deal with them. They need to be aware of the problem of classroom cheating and its consequences on students, society, the Adventist brand, and, most of all, on our accountability to God. This calls for commitment and confidence. “With us, as with Israel of old, success in education depends on fidelity in carrying out the Creator’s plan…” (Education, p. 50).
- Set up rules and consistently implement them: Each school needs to have its guiding rules clearly spelled out, explained, formally communicated to students, referred to as often as necessary, and periodically updated to address new teaching trends (electronic, etc). However, rules and regulations in whatever form they are in will be of no use unless consistently implemented. A laissez-faire or random implementation will not help.
- Keep classes smaller: Discussion about the importance of class size has been ongoing for decades and calls for a different discussion altogether. Small class size enables teachers to know the students better, allows more interaction with them, and can recognize problems and special needs early. In fact for these same reasons, “a 2007 survey found that 81 percent of American teachers would prefer smaller class sizes over higher salaries” (Bethel University Online).