Friday, November 23, 2007


I was a Junior in College and had a test in Statistics that I had studied very hard for. In fact, I was very confident I was going to get an A.

Now, I never in a million years would have imagined I'd ever do well in a class like statistics; just the name in itself is intimidating.

But, by that time in my educational career, I had finally learned that if I stopped complaining, stopped asking questions like "why do I need this?", and just listened to the teacher and did exactly as he said, that I could get good grades.

In this particular class all I had to do was memorize a type of problem and then, during the test, all I had to do was plug in all the new numbers that he put up on the board. I flew through the test and was done in a jiff.

We did not have desks in this class, we had tables. I always liked to sit by the door so I could always be the first out of the room when the class was done, plus if it was hot I'd get a little breeze now and again. The kid who sat to the right of me was very talkative and friendly. I didn't know anyone else in the room.

The next class I showed up early, confident I had done well. The teacher came in, and walked up to my desk, "Mr. Frea, may I have a word with you in my office."

"Sure," I said, and followed him to the his office.

He handed me my test, "You did great on this. I'd like to congratulate you, but we have a problem."

My heart skipped a beat, "What's that."

"We had four tests that got the same grade as yours. The funny thing is, all four of them got the same question wrong."

"Oh, how could that happen?"

"Here's the thing," he said. "One of you guys copied off the others. I can't prove this, but that's what I think happened. It just an awkward situation for me to be in, and I can't prove anything. So just watch out for now on."

He was a really cool teacher. I felt stupid for trusting that kid who sat next to me. I felt used. Actually, I was pissed. I was pent on proving to that teacher I was not the one who cheated.

The next day I sat in the front of the class. While the other students were filing into their seats, the teacher walked past my desk, and whispered, smiled, "I knew the honest one would sit in the front today."

Nothing more was said. I ended up getting an A in that class, and I was very proud of myself for it. I'm not saying I was never tempted to cheat in a class, but I never did. Whenever I thought about it I'd always hear the voice of my mother in the back of my head saying, "You're going to get caught."

I never figured there was much of a benefit to cheating. I would rather fail at something than cheat. Like O'Reily writes in his "O'Reilly Factor for Kids," when you cheat, you fool your teacher and yourself that you know something that you don't. Then you advance to the next level and you are instantly behind everyone else.

"You are in effect dumbing yourself down," O'Reilly writes, "That's because you are developing the bad habits of disguising how little you actually know."

Now that statistics class never did me a bit of good in my life. I remember we were taught how to determine the odds that something would happen, and I'd love nothing more than to remember how to do that now. But, as the old saying goes, if you don't use it you lose it.

This happened prior to my respiratory therapy days. I can only imagine what I'd be doing right now if I had cheated in my RT classes. Even though I didn't get the best grades in my journalism classes, I still obtained the knowledge.

If I would have cheated, I wouldn't be able to do this during slow nights here at work. I'd have to sit and watch TV instead.

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