With schools welcoming children back from the summer break, the following message is particularly timely.
The good news is that whatever we have learned we can also unlearn . . . . That's important because, unfortunately, many people have learned some things that desperately need unlearning. USA TODAY (March 11, 1996) reported the research findings of Professor Don McCabe of Rutgers University, who studied 4,300 students at 31 highly selective colleges, 14 of which had honor codes. The study . . . revealed that 30% of students at honor code schools in 1995 reported cheating on a test. That's up from 24% in 1990. At schools without honor codes, 45% in 1995 reported cheating on a test; that's down from 47% in 1990. Professor McCabe calls the results "discouraging," a considerable understatement.
. . . here are two steps that will produce results to reduce the cheating.
First . . . 80% of a child's character is formed by age five, so the example parents set in living consistent lives of integrity and playing according to the rules of the game is a key ingredient. If kids see parents playing it straight and not cheating at home, on the highways or in their businesses, the kids are far less likely to cheat in school.
Second . . . Starting in kindergarten there should be important lessons taught in our educational institutions about the moral approach to life. The Thomas Jefferson Research Center in Pasadena, CA, 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 responsibility and dependability, and I'm firmly convinced that when these lessons are taught in childhood and reinforced in our educational system, when our kids get into the business world, they'll be playing it straight-which gives them the best opportunity to move straight to the top.