Eight of us, many years ago, got 0/35 in a Unit Test.
A unit test was a form of formative assessment when I was in school. Nowadays they have a much sophisticated system, I discover, as I do my job. We somehow knew that Unit Tests didn’t mean much, we could wait for the final exams (which contributed the most to the final score) and cram everything up in the last few days before the exam. This allowed us to enjoy the year.
That one Unit Test, where eight of us got 0/35 is something I’ll never forget, however. If you are a kid in school, read the rest of this article carefully. There’s a good chance that it might become philosophical as I write, but read it, nevertheless. Skip the philosophical stuff if you have to. I know you won’t learn much that’s useful. In matters like these, we have to learn from our own mistakes. Very few learn from the mistakes of others. It is the current world order — you are not to blame.
Seven of us cheated in that Unit Test.
Our teacher magnanimously, refused to invigilate the Unit Test. She announced her departure with a bit of a flourish. You are responsible adults, she said, (even though we were only 16 years old, oh, sweet sixteen!) — I expect you to be honest and responsible. We could have been, but yeah, whatever. Right.
My bench-mate, and my best friend for 26 years (let’s call him H) was the topper-contender in my class. He furiously started writing. He didn’t have any qualms about us copying what he wrote. I copied what he was writing, and passed that copy to the front bench (Yes, I was a last-bencher. Some teachers prefer that students are ordered by academic excellence, our teacher insisted we sit by height.) The bench in front of me passed the answers to the bench in front of them, and repeat. That made eight of us who had exactly the same answers. Other kids in the class got out their text books and such. The girls, mostly, were sincere and took the assigned responsibility head-on.
Needless to say, eight of us had exactly the same answers, word-for-word, and we were rewarded accordingly.
H too. And he was devastated.
30-odd kids were asked to leave the room, when the results were distributed, and we were spoken to. H tried to be belligerent. It didn’t matter, in our teacher’s eyes, copying is wrong. Allowing someone to copy is equally wrong. Our teacher knew who had allowed the copying and who had copied. It was a no-brainer.
Moral of the story? You have to be innovative when you cheat. Of course, you shouldn’t cheat in the first place. (Kids, this is what I wanted you to really focus on) But if you have to, be innovative, and to do that – you have to know something about the test that you are taking. Sorry, but that’s how it works.
I am sure I will not be able to complete 210 posts in three months. I need to — I need to coincide my tenth year of blogging with a thousand posts (not that, that makes any sense – it amounts to a hundred posts a year). I have considered cheating. Adding photos with badly formed Haikus and such. My poll asking you if I should merge my various blogs was a means of defending the cheat.
Cheating has to have a moral purpose, with your own standards of morality. No one can tell you what those standards are. (Kids, this is what I wanted you to really focus on.) They have to be your own. Ten people will tell you to do it one way, ten others will tell you to do it another. You may never lean on what others have told you. Your moral compass is your own. Build it, in your own way.
It doesn’t matter whether you cheat or not – what matters is the direction it points to – are you following True North or are you fumbling and compromising your own compass. It is OK to make mistakes. Mistakes matter less than how you stand up after those. It is not about forgiveness, for that is what others offer you. What will you offer yourself? All those mistakes will sharpen your moral compass, eventually; don’t deny the mistakes.
A goal is not just a destination, it is also about how you get there. If you can live with the manner in which you get there, everything’s all right. If not, find a new way. Irrespective of what you do, learn to live with it. You will have to.
Live your life as much as you can – and when the proverbial flashing-of-your-life-just-before-you-die is upon you, make sure, watch it in its full glory,
Make sure it is feature-length.