Is Cheating a Survival Skill?

One of this week's conversations over at The New York Times' Room for Debate blog concerns the so-called "epidemic" of cheating. A recent survey of high school students done by researchers at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that the majority of students engaged in behaviors that are considered to be cheating—but in other cases took actions that would traditionally be considered dishonest, but which they did not consider wrong.

An English professor at Emory University, Mark Bauerlein, blames the Internet, in part, for the phenomenon, since it encourages a culture of idea-sharing. Blogging, for instance, requires the sharing of other people's thoughts (as I'm doing now, though with attribution). However, with so many different forms of sharing taking place on the web, Bauerlein writes, students can get confused on the true rules. Cheating-via-sharing is thus a "survival skill" in this new world. One problem, however: "On that model, though, knowledge isn't absorbed and interpreted. It is retrieved and passed along," he explains.

Alfie Kohn, an outspoken critic of the way our public schools currently work (high reliance on standardized tests) beats his usual drum, but makes a solid point: "[C]heating is less common in classrooms where the learning is genuinely engaging, where each student sees others as resources rather than rivals, and where exploring ideas hasn’t been eclipsed by a single-minded emphasis on 'rigor.'"

In other words, a more creative curriculum—such as those used at Akron, Ohio's National Inventors Hall of Fame School and discussed in this week's Newsweek cover story—simply don't allow situations where students can cheat, nor create the environments where they would want to.

Standardized testing, however, absolutely encourages that behavior.

Photo via.

via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less