Here’s a metaphorical story that is probably familiar with many of you. It’s the story of Barty. Barty was once a wonderful student. He used to get straight A’s and got along with everyone, despite his poor social skills and terrible study habits. He earned so many A’s on all his report cards, everyone was proud of him. But after a while, school seemed to really ware on Barty. He wasn’t as sharp as he used to be and the classes became increasingly more difficult. Barty eventually dropped out of school because he just wasn’t doing well enough in any of his classes. He had nothing to be ashamed of, he’d had good grades for seven whole years.
Still, after a year away from school, Barty decided he wanted to give it another try. But before he could go back to school, he had to take an entrance exam. Barty did not want to take this exam at the school, he chose to take it at a completely different school that his original school would accept credit from. This particular school that he took his entrance exam from did NOT have any rules against cheating, nor did they punish it. Barty passed his entrance exam with flying colors and was allowed back at school.
But once Barty arrived back at school, he had to sign an academic honesty contract that stated he was not allowed to cheat on tests.. Barty assured the school he would not cheat. The school already suspected Barty may have cheated those seven years before when he had straight A’s because there was a serious cheating problem at the school that had since been eradicated. But they gave Barty the benefit of the doubt because he’d never actually been caught cheating before. Before his first exam back, Barty’s entire class was reminded by the teacher, “Don’t be caught cheating. If you’re caught, we will punish you.”
The exam started and Barty was getting all of his answers right. The teacher happened to walk by and notice that Barty had been copying his answers off of a cheat sheet, after being suspected of cheating before, after signing a paper saying he wouldn’t cheat, after being verbally warned not to cheat, he did it anyway. Barty was suspended from school for 50 days. But this mattered little to Barty, he was just happy to have had a chance to be back at school and knew he could find some other way of passing his tests and getting the praise he used to for his straight A’s. He spoke with some fellow cheaters who indicated Barty could write the answers under the bill of his cap or print them on the inside label of his water bottle.
After 50 days, Barty was allowed to return from his suspension. The PTA reminded teachers that they may only check students hands and desks for signs of cheating, but children are allowed to wear ball caps and allowed to have water bottles. These are not against the rules and therefore the teacher has no right to check them for any signs of cheating. Once Barty returned to school, on every day he had a test he was sure to be found wearing a baseball hat with the bill pulled down close to his eyes and a water bottle in hand he guarded very closely.
Barty began getting A’s on all of his tests. Barty was an A student. Soon, colleges began coming around and saw hat Barty’s grades were amazing. Soon, these colleges would make Barty very lucrative scholarship offers. Still, everyone knew something wasn’t right about Barty’s grades. There were even better now than they were before back when he was an A student years ago. And he was always wearing that ball cap and clutched that water bottle to his chest tightly.
Inevitably, some college is going to offer Barty a lot of money to go to school and get good grades there. Barty will be rewarded, despite being suspected of cheating before, being warned not to cheat, signing papers saying he won’t cheat, getting caught cheating, then getting A’s all over again despite his poor study habits and being suspected of cheating still. All we can hope for is that your favorite college doesn’t give this kid a scholarship and that someday, ball caps and water bottles will no longer be tolerated during test time.
Ten points to the person who can identify who this story is secretly about.