Psych Club Eyes Cheating

Joan Harris, Staff Writer

Some students will do anything it takes to be accepted into college so that future opportunities will be open for them.  But at what point does the goal fail to justify the means?

Colleges look for a long list of credentials, including sports participation, artistic talent, good grades, and community service.  Every year the list of achievements necessary for a student to distinguish him or herself seems to broaden.

Pressure to live up to the perceived expectations of college admissions, as well as the local community, compels kids to take desperate measures to keep pace.

Students wake up far earlier than is healthy for their biology, spend excessive hours imprisoned in the classroom, give up lunch time for club meetings, then devote afternoons to sports and community service, weekends to SAT prep classes, and every other free moment completing homework.  Spring break is often spent on church trips to foreign lands, where students build houses for the poor.  Event summer months are filled with calculated internships, scout projects, or experiences intended to fill out a student’s resume.

No wonder some feel a building sense of desperation as college applications and semester grades loom closer.

Making mistakes is one of the most powerful ways human beings learn. Yet, the pressure to be perfect in this constant push for college acceptance and satisfaction of community expectation has taken this away.  Now, the only thing that matters appears to be maintaining a sterling grade point average and scoring ever higher on the SAT.  As a result, students operate in a culture of fear: A fear of failure.

And how do students cope who have exhausted every other avenue, and still find themselves falling behind?  How do they cope with the impossible schedules, the unrealistic expectations, and unfair evaluation of their worth?

They cheat.

This is why the Psychology Club has made paper eyes to put in classrooms across campus.

The club believes that these eyes may help students remember the moral standards that are frequently corrupted or tossed aside as a result of this pressure to be perfect.  The club hopes the eyes will remind students that someone is always watching them, even if that someone is ultimately their own conscience.

The idea was given to senior Marina Han by her government teacher, Caron Brownlee. “We had a government project in her class, the Lamorinda Community Project. One of the options was to do something in a club at school. The theme of our project was corruption or more specifically, cheating. Brownlee told us about a study where people started posting eyes around places to make it seem as if someone was watching. And I thought this could potentially reduce cheating,” Han explained.

Han used the opportunity to team up with her government project group, and her Psychology Club, to make and post the eyes in various teachers’ classes.

Currently, about 12-15 teachers on campus have the eyes in their classroom, usually near a clock, the screen projector, or above the door.

Han explained that the eyes were “more of an awareness campaign than to see if this actually works.”

While Campolindo enjoys a campus free of many of the typical distractions that plague high schools, it does have flaws.  Cheating, as a result of the tremendous pressure and narrow definition of success some students feel their community places upon them, continues to be a problem.

Whether or not the placement of paper eyes will help remains to be seen.

“A person’s integrity is the most valuable thing a person will have,” associate principal Sharon Bartlett said.