A Lesson On Cheating

This past weekend, Sloan set up a game for me to play. She lined up three of her toy cups and placed a hair bow underneath one of them. She then had me guess which cup the bow was underneath. After a couple more rounds in that manner, we switched roles. I took a few turns hiding the bow while Sloan “looked away.”

I am sure you all know why I utilized the quotation marks in that last sentence. There were instances when Sloan tried to gain the upper hand by sneakily looking at me while I placed the bow. I debated whether to nicely remind her to stop cheating or take more drastic measures…

Sloan with the cups she used for the “bow” game.

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When I was a sophomore at Mead High School, I was in an honors humanities class. It was a challenging course and the students enrolled in it took the class seriously—including me.

One day there was a pop quiz on the previous night’s reading. We had two teachers in this class and the soft-spoken, reserved instructor of the pair, Mr. Hanson, was administering it. As he passed out the quiz he reminded us to put away all notes and packets.

As I mentioned, it was a surprise quiz and it had the chance to impact our overall grades. You could sense the anxiety and pressure in the classroom as we started on the assessment. Damn you, Mr. Hanson!

About halfway through the timed quiz, our world was rocked.

“One thing I won’t tolerate in this class is CHEATING,” Mr. Hanson bellowed. “Get out of here right now!”

The outburst had all of us stunned, and, quite frankly, a little scared. Our teacher was in a rage, a state we had never seen him close to reaching before. But what was even more shocking was who Mr. Hanson’s ire was directed at.

The student caught cheating, who I will call Glen, was even more soft-spoken than the teacher ripping into him. Small in stature and extremely quiet, no one would have ever expected Glen to have a dishonest bone in his body. What was he thinking?

As Glen hung his head and walked out the door, Mr. Hanson made a big display of crumpling up his paper and tossing it into the garbage can. If we thought it was tense in the classroom before this episode, there was no way to describe the terror in the air now. All of us kept our heads down and eyes locked on our papers as we finished the quiz.

When the time expired, Mr. Hanson tersely directed us to turn in our papers. Everyone was still on edge. We had no idea what was going to happen next. After a brief pause once he had all the quizzes, Mr. Hanson spoke.

“I am going to invite Glen back in,” Mr. Hanson said as his voice returned to its mild-mannered tenor although there was a sense of triumph mixed in.

Glen strolled back in with a wry smile on his face. Something was up.

It turned out that Glen wasn’t a cheater after all. Mr. Hanson announced that he had planned the whole charade with Glen prior to the class and that he would be receiving a 100% on his quiz. The whole demonstration was actually done to drive home a point from the previous night’s reading, I think it had something to do about ruling with fear, but to be honest I really can’t remember. Instead, I took away the general theme that cheating is bad and it can make even the calmest people erupt. I still think a lot about that moment to this day.

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So as I watched Sloan attempt to slyly look over her shoulder as I hid the bow, I considered going full out Mr. Hanson on her. But I figured I should probably wait until she is at least in kindergarten to do that. Don’t Blink.

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