DR. WALLACE: I know you are a former teacher and high school principal, so I'm hoping you can help me. I am a very good student. I have a relatively high IQ and my grade point average is 3.96. I understand that there is a lot of cheating going on at my high school.
Two weeks ago, our teacher gave us a homework assignment. It was going to be graded. My teacher told me to put the wrong answers down for each question and give these answers to anyone who asked me for them. He said that he wanted to catch some of the cheaters.
Well, it so happened that three of my best friends asked to see my homework, and all three copied my "wrong" answers. The next day, the three were called into the vice principal's office and were suspended from school for a week, and a letter was put into their confidential files stating that they were caught cheating. The three were also given an F on the assignment.
To say that my friends were upset with me is an understatement. They refused to talk to me and have told the whole school that I was a rat and got them suspended. The teacher is now sorry that he had me set up other students to get caught for cheating.
Now, I feel totally abandoned when I go to school. I hate going to school knowing that everybody hates me. I keep telling myself I did nothing wrong. I only did what the teacher asked me to do. Did I do anything wrong? — Anonymous, Atlanta ANONYMOUS: Your teacher never should have asked you to be part of his sting operation to catch cheaters. While cheating is both wrong and a big headache for educators, catching and punishing habitual culprits should never involve setting up innocent students as "bait." The devastating consequences should have been easy to imagine.
You were doubly used. Your teacher, in his zeal to catch the wrongdoers, gave no thought to the likely effect your participation would have on your friendships. But your less-than-ethical friends were also using you. The fact that they are now ostracizing you rather than admitting their own guilt as cheaters points to the shallowness of those friendships.
You must stop worrying about the loss of their friendship. Be proactive about making new friends. Get involved in school clubs and activities. This will give you the opportunity to meet other students and start building new relationships.
You did nothing wrong, and this will eventually blow over. My only suggestion is that you re-examine your willingness to do what others ask you to do. I refer to both your friends and your teacher. Don't allow yourself to be set up like this again!
Your teacher made a serious error when he used you as part of his scheme to identify students who were cheating in his class. He was unprofessional and should have been disciplined by his superiors.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.