Sitting Exams

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Mixing college administration, teaching and study is quite a challenge I thought to myself as I jumped on my Vespa scooter, kick started, and sped out the gate toward the University. This had been one of those unusual days when everything that could go wrong went wrong. I’d lingered in the office too long and was in danger of being late for my own final graduate exams.

This was to be the culmination of years of hard work and study. We’d been the first of an experimental group of engineers and administrators hand picked by industrialists and corporate administrators to take part in a new MBA program offered by the university evenings. I’d been lucky enough to be selected as one of this first batch. Only those with working experience had been chosen, and we were aware we were an elite group.

Over the years a few dropped out, but a surprising large number persevered until the end of the course. Many barely made it to class from work places scatted around the city each evening, but we made the attempt because we felt specially chosen and wanted to have the honor of being among first graduates. We faced trials and difficulties finding time to prepare for classes; for that matter to attend classes at all because of work responsibilities. Our long suffering families were almost at the end of their collective patience as we attempted to balance family work and study. Family lost out every time! We students began to lean on each other for sympathy and support. We’d take a little extra time after classes to study as teams, and make notes to share with classmates whose work took them out of town temporarily.

I remember those classes, and case studies where corporate attitudes were discussed and dissected. During case studies we’d deal with real life situations, and corporate dealings of familiar companies would be placed under the microscope. There was a lot of talk about business ethics and all of us had strong opinions on this topic. We mercilessly denounced what we regarded as questionable practices. By conviction we appeared to be a very moral group.

Now the time had come for us to write, in essence, the sum of our years of accumulated knowledge. Not only were we anxious about exams, but the faculty were anxious too. They were under the microscope as much as we were. Our success was their success, our failure their failure. This was the final test of the first batch!

Papers were distributed and final instructions given. We were awaiting a signal to commence writing when suddenly all lights went out. There’d been a breakdown at the power station, and our supervisor left to see what could be done to turn on emergency power.

Torches flashed on all around the room, everyone came prepared for such eventualities as power failures were common in that city. It took me a while to comprehend what was happening, but then reality hit me. Some students were hastily hiding notes among blank writing papers they’d have to work on when lights could be restored.

I began to realize natural inclinations of some of our group were quite different to professions made when we discussed ethics during previous case studies. As I watched in surprised silence a young Hindu friend next to me quietly whispered. “They may get through the exam by cheating, but ultimately they can’t fool the gods.” I was glad to notice on further observation there were many in that room who shared his opinion. The majority not only believed in ethical behavior, they practiced it that evening and left study notes in their pocket.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012 All rights reserved”

9 thoughts on “Sitting Exams

  1. Like you Ian – all my post secondary school studies were accomplished while holding down full time jobs. I never encountered cheating during exams though where group assignments were concerned – there was always one who would shirk on their portion of contribution.

    Twenty years later, my children in university experience the same thing. Every “group” comes ready-made with a passenger.


    1. That could be a commentary on organizations too. There are always some who do not pull their weight and that creates a heavier load on the rest. Unfortunately governments in trying to protect the worker from employer excesses have gone too far and make it difficult now to deal with the shirkers.


  2. Aren’t you glad that school exams are over? Esther Great story!

    On Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 4:46 PM, ianscyberspace


  3. Hello Ian, I have not made a response to your “sends” for some time and I thought that this one was particularly appropriate to “our times up here”. The subject of cheating is very prevalent in most levels of our educational system presently. It is at its peak, it would seem, in the plageristic practices of college students in using the internet to get whole term papers and segements of Masters level final projects and PhD dissertations. There has been considerable study of these practices in Journal articles in many several of the Sociology and Psychology Journals. I have noted in the Communication Journals (I still receive them even though I have been retired from the arena for more than 20 years) a strong interest in studying the activity of cheating. I am not certain if it is on the increase (although I suspect that it is) over what was always present in academia. My personal attitude toward the issue is that cheating is given credibility by the very top levels of our society. The evidence of attitudes that support cheating to get to the top of any system that we have established is very evident in daily activities of our “leaders” of Industry, government, and social systems. Could be that it is a symptom of a social system that is failing?? Food for thought, anyway. Cheers, Jim Fee



    1. Hi Jim. I know what you mean. When I was teaching in graduate school I had to devise all kind of traps to alert me when someone was presenting work which they had not completed themselves. It would be harder today where there is such a vast amount of knowledge available on the internet. It’s even harder when you have a big class to teach as it’s more difficult to gauge a persons individual expression which of course is revealed in what is written. Our house is under contract now. We have spent weeks on the sale trail and are exhausted. If all goes well we should have moved by mid December so I won’t be on line much.


  4. My computer crashed during the week and I have a new one with Windows 8. Transfer of backed up files from the old computer has been quite a challenge so I won’t have much time for the internet for a while. Fortunately Windows 8 is kind to WordPress.


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