Blog Character Chats

Why do people cheat, steal, and plagiarize?

Every month here at True Balance Karate, we have a social-emotional learning program called True Character.

This month’s word of the month is honesty. Honesty means being straightforward and truthful in words and actions.

This week we’re going to talk a little bit about cheating, stealing, and plagiarizing.

Why do people cheat?

We know it happens all the time.

Ask a group of kids if their friends ever cheat to win a game and every single kid’s hand goes up.

So why do people do that? Why do people cheat in a game or a sport?

Do you think they do that because they just really want to win? They want to be seen as the best. They want people to celebrate them. They don’t want to admit that they could lose.

Tests and quizzes

Why do people cheat on a test or a quiz?

Do you think maybe it’s because they only value the grade instead of the knowledge because they’re afraid they’re going to get in trouble if they get a low grade?

Maybe they were afraid to admit that they didn’t actually study and they didn’t actually do any of the work?

Contests and competitions

Why do people cheat in a contest or a competition?

Sometimes people do that because they really want to win — they want that medal more than anything — and they’re afraid to admit or put themselves out there to see if they really could do it.

Sometimes people will cheat in a contest, bribing a judge, hurting another teammate, destroying somebody else’s work — those are all negative ways that people can cheat in order to try to win.

How about plagiarizing?

Have you ever heard of the word plagiarizing? Plagiarizing means copying somebody else’s work.

If you just copy and paste an article, post it on yours, turn it in as homework, and say you did it; that’s cheating, that’s stealing.

Plagiarizing is still cheating and stealing and not being honest. We want to be honest about whether or not we’ve done our work and we want to give people credit for the work they’ve done.

If you quote something in a paper, you want to credit that person: “Hey, I didn’t say that, this is a quote from so and so.” Then you’re not plagiarizing — you’re being honest by saying somebody else said it and you’re quoting it.

It’s important for us to be honest and not do these things.

Having a growth mindset

Another part of honesty with regards to cheating and stealing is to understand what a growth mindset is.

When we get stuck in a fixed mindset, we get stuck in a position where we feel the need to cheat in order to win.

Part of a growth mindset is to understand that the grades we get, the place you get in a contest, whether or not you win a game is not a reflection of who you are — it’s a reflection of your work.

Let’s take grades, for example. You might feel you need to cheat in order to get an A because you’re afraid if you don’t get an A people won’t see you as smart. Or, worse yet, you won’t see yourself as smart.

But what are grades really? Grades are actually a reflection of the work we do, not how smart we are.

If you get a C in math class it’s because you did C work in math — it’s not because you’re a C math student.

If we go after and approach things with a growth mindset, we understand that what place we finish in is just a reflection of our work.

When we’re in a martial arts competition and somebody wins first place in forms and you don’t, sometimes students are upset about that.

Sometimes in this case, we’ll take a video and I’ll show it to them. “What could you have done better?”

I’ll have them ask the first place person, “What did you do?”

Well, they might have practiced far more than you did. So, of course, it’s fair for them to win first place.

The place you get in your tournament is a reflection of the work that you put into it.

You can change it

Cheating to get a higher place doesn’t do you any good, it doesn’t really actually make you feel any better on the inside.

You want to make sure that you put in that hard work and understand all of those things are just a reflection of what you do, which means you can change them.

If you’re getting fourth places or you’re getting Cs, you’re doing fourth place work or C work. You’re not a fourth place person or a C person, which means you can change it. You can do that extra work in order to get that first place.

One thing I always say to our students, especially adult students, is never be jealous of the person who gets first place. If anything, just be jealous of the free time they have to put in the work to get it.

So, make sure everybody stays honest out there.

Honesty is something that we are, it’s something that we do, it’s something that should be part of our everyday life, and it’s something we need to remind ourselves in order to keep ourselves as a good person.

Thanks. And we’ll see everybody on the mat.
– Master Helsdon