Sometimes, just sometimes, cheating is good for you | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

Modern day homework is harder than ever before because it’s harder to cheat and that helps, as cheating can be useful.

Tuesday, 12th November 2019, 12:32 pm
Children no longer submit written homework - it's done on a computer network so they can't cheat

That might sound like I’m a bad role model but if a young person is reading this, then at least they’re reading something.

Also, they’ll never make it to the end of this article because there’s no video content.

I think it’s unlikely that my daughter is going to pursue a career in the sciences but she has to achieve something.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I instil a constant narrative of anxiety, ‘you need, science, English and maths GCSE or you’re in trouble’.

That sentence should probably read, ‘I left school without, science, English and maths and I was in trouble’.

Most homework is now set via the unpleasant medium that is commonly known as Google Classroom.

This means that the student gets an alert when the homework is set.

It also has the added bonus of the teacher knowing when the student has looked at it and how long they’ve spent working on it.

No more wandering into the science lesson and saying you tried but it was all too hard.

With one ‘click’ the teacher can look at your logon and see that you glanced at the assignment for 30 seconds at 10.30pm last night – no wonder you’re tired.

My daughter has an impressive work ethic and actually gets a bit anxious if homework builds up. Something my son has never experienced to this day.

It’s at this point I like to step in and offer my services, ‘let’s do your science quiz together!’

In my mind I’m thinking that if the question is too hard, we’ll simply copy and paste into the internet and – boom – your work has been done by a clever Californian.

But wait.

The science quiz questions are cleverly worded to avoid such a tactic.

Worse still, every attempt we make at the quiz, the questions are reshuffled so it’s impossible to follow the classic multiple choice pattern to boost your results. 

In order to get the required pass mark needed, I had to develop a system of recording key words for each question and each answer.

I also had to be able to record whether the attempt was right or wrong.

In carrying out this elaborate process (spreadsheet) both myself and my daughter are learning quite a lot by default.

Thanks to cheating, we’re now fluent in the four steps of photosynthesis, degradation of carbon and single cell organisms.

It is because cheating is so hard that the learning has become so good.

From superhero to idiot in minutes

I’ve been hacked. A rogue direct debit has appeared in our home account.

Vigilance and the fear of being tricked by scammers has the nation on high alert.

It’s not for a lot of money but I don’t recognise it and I call the bank immediately.

The bank are, as they always are, incredibly patient and tuned in to the customer.

We go through the lengthy security checks and then a series of questions that check, first of all, whether you’ve been abroad recently, lent your account details to a complete stranger or purchased anything online that would arrive in a brown envelope.

I was through the first round and now into the general chit chat about how the world is generally a bad place online and it’s important in life to trust no one.

How have these people got my details? I feel violated. I want justice.

I don’t want others to go through this hell. Of course none of that can be achieved, but the direct debit is stopped and I’m now one sucker they won’t be taking for a ride. 

After more than an hour on the phone I put down the receiver and begin to feel like a superhero. 

Then I remembered that last month I changed my home insurance. I’ve just stopped myself being scammed by me. What an idiot.