My Niece The Scholar

She doesn’t read this site, so I should be safe — yes, this is a true story.

One of my nieces (on, cough, my wife’s side), is struggling in high school, even though she’s quite smart. Another of her uncles was just visiting, and when he asked how she’s doing in school these days, she told him this story.

Students working at their desks.
Testing time for Australian students in 1947. (Photo: Museums Victoria, public domain.)

She had an English test, and copied the answers from the student next to her.

How did she get caught?

She even copied — verbatim — what the student next to her wrote on the first question.

The question? “Name.”

(Yep, she’s blonde — bleached, though!)

[Originally published 17 August 2009 — 12 years ago today — in the True Story section of my now defunct Jumbo Joke site.]

She’s doing fine today, with a good job.

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8 Comments on “My Niece The Scholar

  1. Okay, I know several people like this, my oldest being one. Yes she is a true blonde but has never cheated (as far as I know). She graduated the top of her class 4.0 for 4 years in high school and the top of her class in college (with a master’s in education and library science), but have you ever seen that cartoon were the kid is pushing on the door and the sign says pull…that’s her (she has done that…lol). I love her and she is a great educator.

    That is a Far Side classic, depicting the Midvale School for the Gifted. I bow to Larson — and your daughter, who is doing an important thing during a difficult time. -rc

  2. I, a teacher, once had two students attempt to cheat on a test by swapping papers when I looked away. But much like your niece, name writing was apparently not their strong suit: one paper ended up with both of their names written at the top, while the other paper had no name at all.

    😀 -rc

  3. Love the stories, and ok, this one isn’t about odd issues with names, but it was clearly a “copy” of a test. While I was a student at University, one of my lecturers asked me to do a few semesters of running tutorials for a unit in another stream — Programming 101. I had to grade all of the major assignment papers as well. Unfortunately (well, for these two), they had a strange, and noticeable output error … exactly the same one in both cases. When I investigated further, their program code was also exactly the same, right down to typos in the commentary. So, I gave them a choice … either one of them gets 7 / 10, or both could get 3.5 / 10. Their choice! I seem to recall handing out 7 / 10 to one of them.

      • Yeah, I know I thought about that, but I wasn’t convinced they had collaborated. For all I knew, one of them had somehow obtained the other one’s program listing, possibly without that other person’s knowledge — I know for a fact that it was easy enough to go through the pigeon-holes where the computer operators put printed program listings, and steal someone else’s … I had that happen to me. Without any proof of collaboration, I thought the approach I took seemed appropriate.

  4. “She’s doing fine today, with a good job.”

    Hmmm. Maybe better than some of her classmates that didn’t cheat? That could lead to so many conflicting conclusions….

  5. Once upon a time I monitored matriculation exams. Walking into a noisy 10th grade classroom I told them the score: “You think I’m here to crimp your style. I’m not. I’m here to keep you from throwing away the last ten years. Last year 30% of all tests were rejected, UN-examined, on suspicion of cheating. That’s 3 out of every 10.

    “If you flunk, you’ll learn from what you did wrong and be able to retest in 6 months. If you’re rejected, you won’t be able to retest for a year.”

    There was a flurry of activity around the classroom’s wastepaper basket. One student even marched up to my desk with a sheaf of crib-sheets. “Here, you keep these,” he said. “I don’t want them!”

    See? There IS hope for youth …if you treat them as intelligent beings with the capacity for thought. -rc

    • Hey Shir-El, I hope you don’t mind me popping this comment in … I learned the “real” name for the role of the person supervising exams … it’s an “invigilator”. I attended a work-sponsored course some time ago, and an “invigilator” supervised the exam. There you go. 🙂

      It depends on where you are/what tradition is followed:

      invigilate (v.intr): 1. British. to watch examination candidates, esp to prevent cheating. US word: proctor 2. archaic to keep watch (Collins English Dictionary)



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