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Geography Teachers Assaulted for Not Allowing Students to Cheat

Submitted by on May 12, 2012 – 4:14 pm 12 Comments |  
Geography classrooms are not normally associated with violence, but that is not necessarily the case in Pakistan. Just this week, classrooms at Government National College in Karachi were ransacked and several teachers were beaten after they refused to allow students to cheat at the annual examination of a course on commercial geography. According to Dawn, Pakistan’s premier English-language newspaper, the assault was perpetuated by “political groups of outsiders.” As a result of the attack, teachers at the college organized a boycott of exam-grading duties, complaining that the institution’s officials had not taken adequate precautions to prevent violence. The Sindh Professors and Lecturers’ Association “said that it was the failure on part of the college directorate and the law-enforcement agencies that unscrupulous elements had now started demanding cheating facilities so openly and were giving threats to the lives of teachers and other college staffs.”

Cheating on examinations in Pakistan is so prevalent that it has inspired a minor YouTube genre. One recent video recounts the story of a school headmaster being “beaten by an influential feudal lord for not allowing students to cheat during matriculation examination.”


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  • What is the point of getting grades through cheating? Is there pride in such an accomplishment? Do you tell yourself: “Yeah, I really had to beat the crap out of my teacher, but I finally made him give me an A”?

    • Indeed one doesn’t learn much, at least not of the subject matter at hand, through cheating. Yet, cheating seems to be a very cultural thing. In Russia, for example, cheating was (and maybe still is, I don’t know) very widespread. People came up with very creative solutions in order to cheat on exams. I was once asked to help figure out if a Russian student plagiarized his term paper, and indeed I was able to identify some 85% of the text as lifted verbatim from various sources, but the student in question didn’t feel that he’s done anything wrong. At Stanford, in contrast, students take exams with nobody else present in the room. They are supposed to self-police. Whether that means being really honest themselves or policing each other, is another question. But most would be terribly offended at the mere suggestion of cheating.

      • Yes, cheating is no doubt cultural to some extent, but I also think that it is widespread almost everywhere. I dislike Stanford’s “no proctoring of exams” policy, as I know that some cheating does occur. Although cheating on exams is always unethical, it can be rational in a narrow sense: if cheating allows one to get good grades, and good grades allows one to get a good job …  But in the end, the practice is socially  toxic, as is allowing it to occur. 

        • I am glad to hear that you dislike Stanford’s “no proctoring of exams” policy, as I’ve always found it quite shoking. In my experience, it promotes certain (not always especially good or honest) students to police the others. IMHO, telling on a fellow student (especially, when the alleged offense is not substantiated) is as immoral as cheating, if not more.

          And you make another excellent point: wide-spread cheating is a symptom of excess focus on grades rather than knowledge. Do you know if there’s much cheating in the U.S. among school students (high school especially), as there is a lot of pressure to get good grades?

          • Is there any school system in which there is not a lot of pressure to get good grades or cheating?

          • You got a point there, James! But I still think the degree of such pressure differs from place to place. I would say that the pressure to get good grades in the Soviet school and higher education systems was less pronounced than, say, in Palo Alto schools or at Stanford. I am judging by my students, of course, so it’s a pretty subjective evaluation and others may disagree. Nonetheless, cheating was VERY common in the Soviet system, which makes me think that there is something purely cultural and not exactly pragmatiс behind this phenomenon.

          • Ryan Lord

            Here in Britain cheating doesn’t seem to be much of a hot button topic. I don’t know if that reflects a lack of cheating or a lack of discussion about the subject though. Personally I’ve never heard of anyone being involved.

            I remember seeing, and being completely fascinated by, this image in Patricia Buckley Ebrey’s book on Chinese history


            the accompanying caption reads ‘This “cheat shirt” probably dates from the nineteenth century, but the practice began much earlier’.

            I just don’t get the mechanics of it? How on earth did you access this undershirt without getting caught? Was Imperial China also a no proctoring zone?

          • For some reason, the “Reply” button didn’t come up, but I am replying to Ryan Lord.  From what I remember, at least the upper levels of the Imperial examination system were multiple day affairs, in which the students would write long essays with extended quotations from the Confucian classics.  Each examinee would be given a little room without a door, but otherwise closed off, with a table, pen and ink and, I think, even a couch or bed.  I suppose this cheater could pick an opportune time, slip off his undershirt, and have a copy of one or more of the Confucian classics hidden under the bed or somewhere.

          • I am sure you are right that it is a matter of degree.  My sister taught in a Japanese high school, where the pressure for grades is world-renowned.  On the other hand, I understand that at least the lower levels of the Finnish education system are some sort of Waldorf-style thing.  They may not even issue grades.

  • Ryan Lord

    I’m sure the students are learning plenty about the art of power politics and intimidation, which sadly might end up being the most crucial thing they learn at school.

  • James and Ryan: I guess we’ve reached a limit on a thread, so I am responding here.

    Thanks for the cool picture of a cheat-shirt, Ryan! I thought it was a Russian idea, but I guess nothing’s new under the sun! One makes holes in outer garments for easy access to the undershirt. It’s an art.

    Thanks for the interesting info on Finnish schools, James! I’ve heard similar things about Swedish schools too.