A couple of weeks ago, I shared with my readers a story about a student of mine who cheated on an exam. Some good advice was offered to me by the readers on how to deal with this situation. I thought about it over the spring break, however, and decided to try something different.
I failed the student for the exam because she reproduced - word by word - my analysis of the texts and paintings. The task, however, was to provide her own analysis of them, which she failed to do completely. The student came to my office to discuss why she failed. I never mentioned the cheating but in the course of the conversation she confessed.
Then we talked about why she felt she needed to cheat. We discovered that she believes her own opinions are worthless. She often feels that she is stupid and worse than everybody else. I took this opportunity to tell her that I will never find her own opinions and her own analysis worthless. That I want to hear them and help her formulate them. That she has a lot to offer and that the only thing she needed was to start believing in herself. The student cried, and I almost cried.
We decided that she will write the next exam in my office, and I will guide her through the entire process.
In short, I think this particular case of cheating led to some very productive things.
I'm a damn good teacher. :-)
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