Mental Health Purpose of Teaching

Integrity and Success

ChatGPT is making it easier for students to engage in academic dishonesty and ChatGPT is also making it harder for us to detect academic dishonesty. I fear that this problem will only get worse. The ease with which one can cheat will only increase over time. Our best hope, it would seem to me, is to make integrity more attractive than cheating oneself out of an education.

As I’ve agonized and reflected on this issue, I was sent a podcast where Adam Grant interviews clinical psychologist and parenting expert Becky Kennedy.

About eight minutes into the discussion, Grant and Kennedy describe a Harvard study where most parents, when reflecting on what they want for their children, say that they want their children to be caring and kind. But when talking to children, the study found that most children believe that their parents want them to be successful.

Kennedy discusses how, in her private practice, she sees children dropping out of college because they cannot handle the pressure they feel to be successful.

I bring this up because I think many young people are pushed into the arms of academic dishonesty because we aren’t having the right types of conversations about the ends of education and hat it means to be a good and successful person.

If children–and their parents–were on the same page about the meaning of success, then a child would take the B- or admit that they couldn’t do an assignment, rather than cheat. The child would realize that admitting mistakes and growing from them builds character (it helps them be the good and caring person their parents want them to be).

This may sound helplessness naive. But I encourage you to listen to the podcast, and I encourage you to reflect on the ways we can help students think about purpose. I have to believe that a student with a purpose will also have a moral center that allows them to resist cheating. They will realize that not facing the B- or not owning up to a mistake or a missed assignment with honesty keeps them from growing as a person. They don’t want to cheat because they don’t want to deprive themselves of the opportunity for growth.

I don’t think we will ever beat ChatGPT with better tools. What we need is a moral vision or a moral narrative that is so compelling that the very idea of cheating wouldn’t occur to someone under its sway.