Latin's Honor System

Robert Igbokwe An honor system, according to Merriam Webster, is, “a system in which people are trusted to follow rules and to act in an honest way.” The idea of an honor system is far from new. The first one written in America was penned by Thomas Jefferson during his time as a student at the College of William & Mary. Use of the honor system in higher education has popularized since then, and now the majority of colleges and universities in America utilize the honor system to some extent in their classroom. Some ideas behind the honor system have made their way to the classes at the Latin School of Chicago. Some teachers, such as the Upper School science teacher Mr. Phipps, have their students sign an academic honor code before taking each test. At a school such as Latin, where academic integrity is held at such a high standard, and lack thereof is completely unaccepted, the honor system poses an important role in our community. Teachers expect their students to understand why cheating is unacceptable, and that they shouldn’t avoid doing so simply because they fear retributions. New Upper School Spanish teacher, Sra. Valentín commented, “It is important to embrace our process as learners… I think that honesty and integrity are crucial aspects of keeping true to this learning process. It is easy to copy something that someone else created but the true learning occurs when we can create our own masterpieces, even with their imperfections.” It also seems that Latin students agree on the importance of an academic honor system. Freshman Brendan Myers, says, “The honor system is essential to Latin because it offers a sense of reward for your efforts… If I work hard and get all A’s on my report card, I would rest assured that I deserved that A and learned from my experience…” For many students, the honor system is a way for them to be assured that they understand the content they’re learning. When they succeed in a class and know they were academically honest, they can feel assured that they understand the content being taught and have the confidence to continue working hard in their classes. The honor system is also one of Latin’s many approaches towards preparing students for education after high school. Many teachers–and students–agree cheating in high school only hurts you in the ways that count. According to Upper school English teacher, Ms. Callis, “When you cheat, you’re actually cheating yourself. It’s a short term solution. You’re not gaining anything from the act. When you are copying someone else, you’re not gaining knowledge on that topic…. You’re the only one who’s suffered from your actions.” Latin’s Honor system is clearly a very important aspect of our community. The level of trust between students and teachers is what makes this school so great for preparing students for higher education.]]>