When Cheating Is Ok

2 min readOct 21, 2022

Dan Ariely wrote an interesting book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, about behavioural economics and human deception. He gave one great example which outlined how people behave in groups.

Ariely gave a group a test of 20 simple but time-intensive maths problems — they had 5 minutes to complete as many as they could and got paid accordingly. This was a pure quantity game. When the scores came in, those who marked their own work scored more highly than those whose work was marked externally. Also, and perhaps most interestingly, was the fact that those who witnessed someone else openly cheating, were more likely to cheat themselves too, regardless of how ethical they had been up until this point.

Ariely concluded, ‘Cheating, it seems, is infectious.’

A piece about the future of education which focuses on cheating and why people are susceptible to it is understandably controversial — and in all honesty (no pun intended!), we aren’t advocating cheating in the same way Ariely’s test subjects did. Indeed, one of the biggest challenges to the Teacher Assessed Grades fiasco (which by the way, we still think is a fairer way to grade students if the only alternative is terminal end-point examinations) was the idea that teachers inflated internal grades. According to TES,

Analysis revealed that grades were highest among wealthier students, showing a widening of the disadvantage gap. There was also concern that the proportion of top grades in A levels increased by three times more in private schools, widening the gap between state-school educated and private school-educated students.

However, in the blockchain and crypto world, which has become something all of us at Edufuturists have become interested in, people are super grateful for cheats. In this world, we call them hackers, or more appropriately, ethical or white hat hackers. These people are designed to cheat and break the system, exposing vulnerabilities before they are too costly to an organisation. One example from earlier in 2022 was that a group of hackers got into the Binance blockchain and were set to steal $570m (that is not a typo). The ethical hackers got to work and ended up reducing the loss to (just!) $100m. Now, although this is still a huge loss, it could’ve been significantly worse.

What’s the point of this you might ask? We believe that education needs hacking and soon. Those people who are creating online schools or 24/7 access to learning materials or those breaking down the walls of the traditional classroom or those navigating learning by play — are all hacking the system. The loopholes are there; they just need finding in a way that benefits all.

Read this post and more on my Typeshare Social Blog