by Chaya Grossberg
Learning to cheat on tests in high school was one of the more important skills I learned. For one thing, being able to look over someone’s shoulder, see what they’re doing and emulate it is a valid life skill (as well as knowing who’s shoulder to look over). It has helped me in remarkable ways lately-surely more so than memorizing complex formulas and facts. All the formulas and facts we’ll ever need are at our instant disposal via our friend the search engine. Learning to “cheat” is important because it’s part of seeing life as a game and knowing what your goal is.
When I was at the most competitive high school in New York City, I had different goals in different classes. In some classes, such as poetry, math and metaphysics, I wanted to explore. In other classes I wanted to get a good grade and didn’t care much about the subject matter (such as Chemistry). There is practical value in knowing your goal and going for it.
I’ll never forget the day I got to skip a day of Chemistry because I got 100 on a test. My teacher had a rule that if you got 100, you could skip class the following day. It was a sunny, warm spring day and I felt like I had achieved something big; I was proud of myself. I had copied all of the answers from the quiet nerd in front of me and to the right.
Taking tests alone fosters individualism rather than cooperation. It’s impractical that a roomful of 30 people would all need to know the exact same information delivered in the exact same way. Cheating and letting others cheat is such an important life skill because it teaches us to benefit from the knowledge of those around us, let them benefit from our knowledge and not to take rules as gospel.
Calling out was another useful skill I developed from non-compliance in grade school. I used to call out the answers without raising my hand sometimes, or if I got impatient waiting for the teacher to call on me. In second grade, my teacher got so mad at me for calling out, she came over and broke my pencil in half. She then showed me my report card where I had a “Needs Improvement” on “Shows Self Control” in red ink. I felt ashamed at the time, but also a bit rebellious and thrilled to have gotten in trouble. There’s a part of us that likes to rebel because we know that many rules don’t actually benefitus. There are times when it’s important to speak up, even without being prompted or “called on” by an authority. There are times when losing self control can be a good thing. If I could never lose self control, I would surely fall into despair.
Cutting class was another wise decision, every single time. Sitting outside in the sun and fresh air eating and talking with friends or going for a walk were healthier activities that built more practical skills than sitting quietly in a stuffy classroom listening to one person lecture.
So kids-break all the rules you want to. You’ll be better off in the end.
Please post in the comments below about ways you have cheated or broken the rules and how it has been of benefit.