There was a conspiracy afoot on Tuesday. My after-lunch class of freshmen had plotted to obtain contraband answers from a morning class, in order to wallow in the glory that is scoring a perfect 7/7 on the Fact of Fiction quiz.
It's not a real quiz, for points. It's more of a bell-ringer, an attention-getting tactic to focus interest on our lesson out of Science World magazine. I peruse the stories, and make up seven true or false questions about the contents. I put them on my projector screen, and the class votes on each one. Majority rule. The scores of my four sections are posted on the board in a dog-eat-dog competition for bragging rights.
I smelled something fishy right away, and it was not the fumes from second lunch shift filtering through my ventilation system. When I read the question, one of the more vocal class members shouted, "Oh! I know that! I saw it on TV!" They all turned to look at him, and voted the same way. Except for two or three. That happened on each question. Either he'd seen it or read about it or heard it from a teacher. Usually, the answers are about half and half. We have to take a count. But this time, it was virtually unanimous. On all seven questions. They even announced proudly, "We're going to get them all right!"
As soon as I passed out the magazines, a hush fell over the classroom. They can't wait to read the articles out loud and discuss them. They dive right in, searching for the topics, to see which ones they got right. I always read the first one. The Gross Out. This issue, it was a woman who held the Guinness World Record for piercings. It was not a pretty picture. Still, the eerie quiet. When one of them finally broke the silence, and said, "That guy sure is ugly," I knew they were preoccupied.
We read. We discussed. One by one, their answers were proved incorrect. The class set a record, all right. 0/7. The answer-crier was beside himself. Which is what cooks the goose of many a crook. "I can not believe he gave me all the wrong answers!"
After a thorough investigation, consisting of listening to the chatter of my remaining freshman section as they entered the classroom, I discovered that Answer-Crier had asked Answer-Provider for the answers. As Answer-Provider confessed after school in the library at the Book Fair: "I didn't tell him they were the right answers."
The moral of this story? Cheating, like crime, does not compensate adequately.