Good News: Anything we have learned can be unlearned. If we've been taught to lie, cheat and steal, we can unlearn those behaviors and learn how to be honest and dependable.
That's important because more than a fourth of the students in some of our nation's best colleges admit to having cheated on tests. Research by Professor Don McCabe of Rutgers University involving 4,300 students at 31 highly selective colleges — 14 of which had honor codes — was reported in the March 11, 1996, issue of USA Today. Surprisingly, there was little difference in results from colleges with honor codes and those without.
The study updates one that was conducted in 1990 and reveals that 30 percent of students at honor-code schools in 1995 reported cheating on a test (up from 24 percent in 1990). At schools without honor codes, 45 percent in 1995 reported cheating on a test (down from 47 percent in 1990). Professor McCabe calls the results "discouraging."
Here are two steps that will produce results. Step one begins at home, because 80 percent of a child's character is formed by age 5. The example parents set in living consistent lives of integrity and playing according to the "rules of the game" is incredibly important. If kids see parents playing it straight and not cheating at home, they are not likely to cheat in school.
Step two starts in kindergarten, where there should be important lessons taught about the moral approach to life. The Thomas Jefferson Research Center in Pasadena, California, says, "Some things are common in all great civilizations and religions ... wisdom, integrity, love, freedom, justice, courage, humility, patience, industriousness, thriftiness, generosity, objectivity, cooperation, moderation and optimism."
To this I would add honesty and dependability. Teach these lessons in childhood, and when your children get to college and the business world, they'll be "playing it straight." Take that approach and more of us can get to the top!
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