Rationalizing Cheating

When everything that seems to matter is measured in numbers that anyone can see don’t truly measure worth or success, then manipulating those numbers begins to seem like fair game, whether you’re cheating to gain time for lacrosse practice or for your night shift. But the Stuyvesant students made headlines, and so it’s their words that reflect that rationalization. If a homework assignment is unimportant, if a class is “a joke,” if the impact of a test is disproportionate to its overall importance, then why not cheat?

Though everyone has participated in some degree of cheating, I believe that this idea that cheating on something that you don’t think matters is the start of rationalizing cheating on things that do matter. This could be why a significant amount of people who work in finance believe that it’s “necessary to be unethical” to succeed in finance. In the Times Motherlode column, a writer says that best way to get students to recognize the value of doing the right thing is by showing them that you value the qualities that are more difficult to measure: “the child with dozens of friends and no enemies, and the child who joined the rec team happily after failing to make the travel team. I’m not proposing we effectively give every child a participation trophy for life, but only that we make sure to recognize the times when work or character triumph.” If only we had something like this that could apply to Wall Street.

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