Achieving Academic Integrity at Milton
by Mark Iraheta on Friday, October 11th, 2013
Milton Academy, home to academic rigor, athletic demands, and the social experiment that is the student center, can overwhelm the typical student. Although there are advanced, honors, and AP classes for those ready for those challenges, all academic classes at Milton bring some form of challenge and rigor. Unfortunately, being Milton students, we often tend to burden ourselves with more than we can handle. The problem is not that we have too much to tackle (although sometimes that is an issue), but rather that fitting all our requirements into our packed schedules is not a simple task to do on one’s own. Knowing that leadership positions, extracurricular commitments, and academics all add pressure to Milton students, the school and its deans attempt to acknowledge that these problems exist during our opening-of-school academic integrity assembly. However, the long term approach of the administration does not seem to be focused on the issues that may bring about someone to commit a breach in integrity, but rather on scolding and warning of the pitfalls that many students already know exist.
During the Wednesday assembly period dedicated to academic integrity this year, students split up into advisory groups to discuss various scenarios involving either a student who committed foolish acts of dishonesty or hypothetical scenarios that raised broad issues. For many, if not all, groups, the text of the scenarios was extracted from a large scale publication. One scenario described a college graduate on a pre-medical track applying for an internship. While at the site of the internship for an interview, the individual saw two of his old classmates. Reflecting back on his college years, the individual remembered that these two classmates would frequently cheat on major tests in order to pass an organic chemistry course. Knowing that these two students were now his competition for an internship, he realized that perhaps he should have spoken out about the cheating back in college. However, he understood that there was no way to prove such facts then. Although this is an instance where one has a duty to speak up about cheating, I felt as though it didn’t address some of the more prevalent issues with plagiarism on campus.
Perhaps a more beneficial way of addressing this issue would be to advise students more on how to avoid falling into the potholes that Milton sometimes creates. Although Milton fosters an environment of honesty and integrity, it also comes with a certain cyclical tension that sometimes creates an atmosphere of great pressure. This pressure can consume any student into acting out of character. Instead of simply saying “Manage your time well” and “Work diligently,” a more effective deterrent to cheating would be to reiterate the point that teachers at Milton are understanding and helpful, while simultaneously highlighting the pitfalls that Milton students tend to find themselves in. Rather than teaching run-of-the-mill, hypothetical scenarios, ask students for situations where they have felt overwhelmed by an assignment. Taking into consideration all the factors, the advisor could then walk the student through how to overcome the overwhelming pressure to perform academically and advise the student on how to then better approach a long term, major assignment.
However, most of all, we must reiterate a very important element in all discussions of integrity: one’s character. Seemingly cliché, a large factor that keeps students from committing plagiarism seems to be the fear of getting caught rather than the implications that cheating has on one’s character and work ethic. Rather than instilling fear, the administration should encourage the promotion of character growth, showing that one moment of weakness does not determine the person one will become, and that the way in which a student deals with any challenge more ultimately defines his success.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=5207