Yesterday I detailed the many ways in which school officials cheat to pass inspections, so it’s no surprise that teachers often turn a blind eye to cheating in the classroom. Cheating/copying is pervasive throughout China, in every level of education and industry. A gov’t spokesperson even went so far as to say that copying was a kind of innovation.
In the west I think we tend to idealize Chinese/Asian students as incredibly hard workers who are completely focused on their studies and hold their teachers in high regard. Many foreign teachers have been shocked the first time they give a test that many Chinese students boldly cheat, even though they lack proper cheating technique.
In the winter of 2007 I assigned speeches for the first final exam I would be administering. It was a huge mistake to think that I could listen to 200 speeches on the same 8 topics without completely losing interest in what the students were saying, not to mention the bitter cold of sitting still for hours in an unheated classroom.
As their presentations dragged on I started to notice similarities in some of their speeches. It seems a group of 8 students had worked together and each wrote one speech for each of the 8 topics in advance. They had assumed that it was unlikely that they would all get the same topic.
Fortunately for me, two of them ended up presenting back to back at which point I pulled them out into the hallway. It took less than 5 minutes to get them to identify the rest of their group and hand over the offending materials.
This first illustration, is perhaps one of the most common sights on test day in China, and I have seen it first-hand, countless times.
In my Hotel English class one of the students had skipped close to 80 hours of class and was desperately lost when it came time to take the final exam. Not only did he not understand the questions, he didn’t even understand the format of the test.
After about 10 minutes of staring at his blank page, he picked up his things and moved to a desk in front of one of the better students.
I had seen all of this clearly from the back of the class (I was making my rounds at the time), and paused a moment to watch this mastermind in action.
He hunched over his paper and carefully scanned his periphery to see if I was nearby. Certain now that he was in the clear he turned a full 180 degrees to furiously begin copying the test of the better student.
Perhaps the most spectacular of the cheating failures I have observed was in a writing assignment I gave to my students in Chengdu. It was bad enough that 7 of the 20 papers handed in were word for word the same. One girl though, really took it to the next level, at the top of the page was written:
She had been so careless in her copying that she had even copied the other student’s name. She managed to catch this, but being a well trained Chinese student she carefully crossed it out with a single line.
I hope you’ll share your experiences in the comment section below