CRIBBING (16 july 2004)
When I was in primary school, there were two subjects that I more or less cribbed every test of: geography and history.
Please don't think I never tried.
Really, I did. Once, for geography I learned where all the cities were in the province of Noord Holland. When the teacher asked if anybody would like to come forward, I proudly went up to the big map hanging on the wall and started pointing at the cities and towns and reciting their names.
"No good," the teacher interrupted me: "you must recite them in the in the right order."
This was the first time that I knew my lesson. It had never struck me before that the other boys recited their geography in a certain order.
But I tried to be a good boy. And soon I learned the list by heart of the towns of our most southern province, Limburg. But this time the teacher did not allow me to come forward.
Since then, I stopped learning greography and I've cribbed all the tests.
The same goes for history. I always copied the work of the boy who sat next to me. His initials were Henkie de K. But that's all I'll reveal here.
It was a good example of symbiosis. In exchange for his knowledge of history and geography, I allowed him to look in on my arithmetic and language tests.
When I went to the secondary school, I had not acquired any techniques of serious study. Very much to my parents' dismay, I hardly ever studied.
Under these circumstances, it can hardly be called strange that I repeated three classes at grammar school.
Do I tell you this as an excuse?
No, I just tell it because I've heard quite a few teachers say it's the students' responsibility not to crib.
I think students are at a school to learn. They also have to learn you can't just get good marks by cheating.
If my primary school teacher had not allowed me to cheat, I would have learned the attitudes necessary to study and would probably have finished my secondary school in a normal time.