Assignment: write a response to this question, related to Colleen Wenke's essay "Too Much Pressure," about the rise of cheating in schools: "Do you agree with Wenke that most students think cheating is acceptable?," in 300 to 400 words. This response is 342 words.
In Response To "Too Much Pressure"
In her essay "Too Much Pressure," Colleen Wenke argues that students today are driven to achieve goals such as "the best grades," "the best schools," and, ultimately, "the highest-paying jobs" by cheating to a greater degree than students of the past generation. While I agree with Wenke that cheating is due to an increase in less altruistic goals among students today, I find that the wording of her explanation at one point lacks clarity of meaning.
Wenke asserts that cheating is related to present-day students being more "goal-oriented" and willing to "compromise (their) values to achieve their goals". I find it difficult to believe that past generation students were any less focused on achieving goals. What has changed are the values that shape how students today achieve those goals.
Wenke erroneously uses the term "values" interchangeably with "ethics". In contrast to ethics being based on proper conduct, a person's values, which develop from their experience and are demonstrated by their actions, are not inherently based on good ethics. To say that students who cheat are not living up to their values wrongly implies that a value system must adhere to a culturally acceptable moral standard.
For example, if a student copies homework and uses test answers written down the side of a pencil in their pursuit of good grades, can the assumption be made that, because the student cheated, his or her values were compromised? Not necessarily, as that assumption can only be determined with regard to the values of the student.
I am in accord with Wenke's belief that students today are in dire need of the value systems that effectively discourage cheating. The institutions that once conveyed proper values to students such as "family, school, church, media and government" now have a vastly diminished positive influence. Only if there is a more widespread societal instillation of ethics, as was the case for students of the past generation, will there be more students today who view cheating as going against better judgment according to their values.
I think you have written a very well-reasoned argument! You make an interesting point with regard to the possibility that a student's own personal values might very well allow cheating on an exam and other unethical behavior. I can find little about your essay to criticize. The only thing I would point out is that if you are using American English (I can't be sure whether you are), you must put periods (as well as commas) inside the quotation marks, like this:
"compromise (their) values to achieve their goals."
"values" interchangeably with "ethics."
If that rule seems counter-intuitive, I agree! The British rule of putting the punctuation mark outside the quote unless it is part of the quotation makes more sense, but, alas, that's the American rule for commas and periods. The only exception is with single letters such as "a", "b", "c", and "d".