Posts Tagged ‘Lebanese Students’

I walked out of my first exam exhausted. I never imagined I’d have to utilize classroom management techniques with college students during an exam. Never the less, there I was laboring to separate people, curb soft whisperings in Arabic of the answers and redirect wandering eyes to their own test papers.

I must admit, I had been warned about the character everyone tagged as “the Lebanese student.” One woman warned me that they were tough, others told me to be hard on them.

When one describes a student as tough, my mind immediately references the “tough” students on the South Side of Chicago. Places where security officers are as ubiquitous as teachers; where metal detectors greet students at the entrance of the building and where the sounds of gun shots are as familiar as the ringing of a school bell. That was my definition of tough.

So on the first day of class, I arrived earlier than my students, to check and see if there was a phone where I’d be able to call security, in case my class got out of hand.

To my surprise, I met students who called me Miss (a term of respect I would never receive from “tough” students in the states), asked for permission before exiting to use the restroom and even offered on multiple occasions to carry my books to my office.

It wasn’t until the day of the exam that a line was drawn in the sand, and I caught a glimpse of what people meant. This was not the “tough” I was expecting.

I met a culture of cheating. Cheating that was common. Cheating that was accepted. Cheating that was even expected. At one point, one of my students chastised me for taking the exam too seriously – in effect saying that I was being too hard on this culture of cheating.

While every part of me wants to scream, my rational side thought of a saying I’d heard long ago by Stephen R. Covey. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

In understanding, I see a group of students who have been bred on a culture of collaboration – and that’s putting it mildly. A place where cheating, during governmental exams, is permitted, as I was informed by a student.

How’s that for understanding?

This is me being seeking to be understood.

The last place that gave me a degree (an M.S. in Accounting) was the University of Virginia.  They required that we write the following statement on all of our tests and assignments before they were turned in:

“On my honor, I pledge that I have neither given nor received help on this assignment.”

We were allowed to take tests anywhere on campus, under trees, in the library, wherever, as long as we pledged we wouldn’t cheat.  While this sounds nice, the penalty associated with it, was weighty. Violation of the honor code requires a student to go to trial in front of a student jury, truly a jury of your peers. Students found guilty are expelled or have their degrees revoked.

What’s your answer for this Stephen R. Covey?