OK, OK......you beat it out of me. Yep, I succumbed to Christian Grey and his.....antics. I read all three E. L. James' books; they were perfect for vacation reading. I was afraid they would be as angst-y and repetitive as the Twilight books, but, thankfully, not enough of either to be annoying.
We had a glorious view -- a beautifully reflective lake with the mountains in the background. We got a glimpse of several critters while we were gone. A muskrat chomped on a dead fish below our balcony most days, geese wandered around the property, flying in and out of the lake, a moose lounged in a meadow, lots of chipmunks and ground squirrels scampered everywhere......and there was a BEAR! It visited the garbage area underneath our balcony one night (I was sooooo happy to be on the second floor.....unlike after our arrival when we lugged all our shit up two flights of stairs). Apparently it's a common sight at night on the compound. We contemplated a moonlight stroll on the golf course before we knew about the bear. Whew! Glad we decided against it.
Sooooooo....my novel should be out in the next month or two, and I thought I'd (hopefully) tease you a little with an excerpt. The novel follows a teacher through a school year, connecting with her students through a monthly series of letters. This is the September letter.....the one that started them all.
This is a first for me. I’ve never written a letter to my classes but it seemed like a good time to start. Based on a recent conversation I overheard in one of my classes, I wanted to hear your thoughts on cheating.
First, what does cheating mean to you? Is it cheating on a test? Giving someone answers for their homework? I looked the word up on dictionary.com and here is a list of synonyms: mislead, defraud, hoax, victimize, deceive and trick. Not a pretty list is it?
You may consider some forms of cheating harmless, and you may even use another word for it, such as “helping” someone with their homework. And there are other words for cheating. If you cheat on your taxes, it’s called tax fraud and you can pay a fine or go to prison. If you cheat on your spouse, it’s called infidelity or adultery and can be grounds for divorce. If you do it in college, it might be called plagiarism and you could be expelled.
Look again at the list of synonyms. Several of them (mislead, trick, and deceive) also sound like lying. Defraud, hoax and victimize sound like stealing.
OK, let’s say your best friend sucks at Algebra. So you help her with her homework by giving her the answers. You probably don’t think that’s cheating and you may be right. But one way to look at it is that you are cheating her out of an education. How is she going to understand Algebra I and move on to Algebra II (both are required classes here) if you give her the answers? Another definition of cheating is “to deprive of something expected.” Your BFF might expect to understand Algebra or maybe she only expects to pass but either way, who loses out?
I mentioned tax fraud and infidelity above. What if you (or your parents) did that – and got away with it? Is it still cheating? If no one knows, does it count? What if you cheated on a test just to pass? Who does it hurt? Anyone? But what if you cheated, got an A and bumped someone out of their rightful spot in the class rank thereby depriving them of the scholarship they need because it’s their only hope of going to college? Is there a line that you cross when “semi-cheating” becomes cheating, sort of like going from petty theft to grand larceny?
If you cheat, you may never get caught by a teacher, spouse or the government. But there’s one person you can’t hide from and that’s YOU. Even if no one ever knows, you will have to live with it. But what if cheating became easier every time you did it? What if it’s so easy you move on to other forms of cheating like lying or stealing? Can you live with that too?
You may think I’m making entirely too big a deal about this but I want you to think about it. Think about the person you want to be. Every action you take today affects the person you become in the future.
You may want to know if I ever cheated. Yes, in high school I know I looked on other papers to get the answer. I didn’t get caught. I don’t lose sleep over an indiscretion that’s 25 years old but I don’t cheat anymore either. It wasn’t in line with the person I wanted to be then and want to be today.
Here’s your assignment. Now that you have read the letter, think about cheating and its part in your life. What’s your definition? Does cheating affect your life in any way? I want to assure you that your response will be between you and me. If, of course, you tell me that you’re going to blow up the school or shoot a bunch of kids in the cafeteria, I’ll have to tell someone. Otherwise, I want you to feel free to say what is on your mind and in your heart. I expect you to write a minimum of a page and, remember, it’s a quiz grade. Enjoy!
Have you ever benefitted from unplugging? Have you contemplated the spectrum of cheating? How would you answer this essay?