A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. So is a good analogy.
Teddi Fishman’s horse-training analogy in her column for the March 2013 edition of Ethos, is spot-on! The analogy just chimes with so much of what I’ve been trying to say in this series of musings. Ethos is the newsletter of the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), and Teddi Fishman is both Director of ICAI and Executive Editor of the newsletter. Ethos is available to ICAI members only, but Teddi has very kindly permitted me to copy the column in full here.
From the Director
Lessons about academic integrity often come from the most unlikely places, and perhaps one of the strangest, yet most powerful lessons, came to me from horses.
There are two different methods for teaching a horse to keep its head down and not toss it about while being ridden. One is by means of a tie-down strap that prevents the horse from raising its head; the other method is for the rider to give the horse feedback via the reins, correcting it when the head is incorrectly positioned. The first method is more immediate because the horse is physically restrained from lifting its head too high, but horses are smart and quickly figure out that once the strap is removed, they can pop their heads right back up where they wanted them. They learn that they can’t toss their heads when the strap is on, but miss the message that head – tossing isn’t proper riding protocol.
The second method takes more time and effort, but succeeds where the first one fails because the rider learns to communicate with the horse, the horse learns what its rider wants, and both are rewarded when they work in concert together.
Similarly, when we merely prevent students from cheating by technological or mechanical means, we may succeed in a given instance without really teaching them why integrity matters or reducing the likelihood that they will not cheat in the future. If instead, we communicate and work with them, we can expect better results, through education, that are likely to continue into the future.
Ethos, March 2013.
Thank you, Teddi, so very well said!