Sound Habits and White Collar Crime

    Because we have numerous kids who struggle just to pass our courses or conform to our rules, we become so proud of our honour-roll students and assume they inherently practise habits that will turn them into good citizens. The truth is not that simple. Schools are often a nursery for white collar crime. White collar crime, unlike blue-collar crime such as breaking an entry or armed robbery, is just as serious because it too has negative repercussions. When executives of Nortel purposely deceive the public so that the privileged can dump large number of shares at a high price, there is a large negative ripple effect. People not only lose their retirement savings but lose their faith in business leaders; startup companies have a harder time attracting investors. When pharmaceutical companies falsify research data, people die prematurely, and survivors become suspicious of medical science. Cheating in school diminishes learning, and makes teachers generally suspicious of other students who may be innocent. All of the following are based on observed behaviours in schools. To keep things positive, I have listed white collar crimes next to a column of sounder habits



Sound Habits  

Short Term Sacrifices   

White Collar Crimes and Other Bad Habits  

  • Review class notes periodically, regardless of whether a test is imminent or not
  • Read other material (magazines, school text, library books, web sites related to subject) to reinforce new vocabulary and concepts.
  • Help other students with homework. Communicating develops other skills and also exposes any misconceptions you may have.
  • Ask good questions in class.
  • Take advantage of teacherís availability outside of class.
  • Tinker with hands-on-stuff. Over the course of evolution, our dexterity and cognitive skills have developed hand in hand.
  • Respond to challenging questions in a positive manner. Expect stumbling blocks, even if you are a 90+ student. It doesnít make the teacher smarter than you are: after all , (s)heís been around, which allows plenty of opportunities for tough problems to surface.


  • Ask friends for questions on the test they just had; then reciprocate by giving them answers when your turn to be tested first comes around.
  • Get copies of old tests from older friends or siblings
  • Sneak notes into your graphic calculators, cellular phones or use traditional approaches like writing on the desk, inserting a review sheet in your pencil case or looking at someone elseís test.
  • Tune out whenever the teacher discusses material that is beyond the realm of tested objectives.
  • Since labs or projects donít carry the same mark-value as tests, give less priority to them.
  • Copy homework and or lab reports from your friend and later return the favour.
  • Study by cramming several hours the night before the exam. Then forget every detail and concept the week after youíve cashed in your mark.



Long Term Gains

Long Term Consequences

  • Final high school exams will not be stressful.
  • The above habits will increase the likelihood that you will survive CEGEP and university, even if you donít get the most gifted teachers. Even if you  canít afford Ivy league colleges, you'll do more than achieve your goals: youíll become a competent and caring professional---for example, the kind of doctor who practices preventative medicine or an innovator in any field.



  • Even if you donít get caught cheating or donít bomb  a challenging exam; even if you survive higher education without mending your ways (some have), you risk becoming the kind of notary who does not represent his clientís interests; the accountant who spends time in jail, or the doctor who over-prescribes medication and cannot recognize an unusual condition.