Is integrity an all or nothing proposition?
How do you measure integrity? Is it on a scale?
Can you have it some days and lack it on others?
For this week’s blog post I have more questions than answers or suggestions for you. The topic is integrity. We hear people question it and yearn for it. People speak of academic integrity, leadership integrity, relationship integrity, and political integrity.
I have generally described integrity as acting responsibly, respectfully, and honestly toward others and towards yourself. To me, the short definition is that someone does what he or she is supposed to do. To use a metaphor: When we say a bridge has structural integrity, we mean that it will hold the weight of the cars traveling across it. The bridge will do what it was built to do.
But is integrity an all or nothing proposition? How do you measure integrity? Is it on a scale? Can you have it some days and lack it on others? One day I asked one of my classes if they had integrity. One of my students said that he had it “most of the time.” Is it a non-absolute trait? Is it relative to the situation or people in front of us? Can you have a lapse of integrity in one situation and still have integrity in the rest of your life? Does integrity mean you never make a decision that lacks responsibility, respect, or honesty? Is integrity used simply to denigrate what or whom one does not like?
Last week I had the pleasure to work with the good folks at Edison State College in Ft. Myers. We invested two days exploring activities, strategies, and models that help foster effective teaching and learning. One of our topics was academic integrity.
I shared with the group a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that explained how students are using online collaboration to cheat on quizzes. The article reported the rationale of one student: “Although the syllabus clearly forbids academic dishonesty, Mr. Smith [one of the cheating students] argues that the university has put so little into the security of the course that it can’t be very serious about whether the online students are learning anything.”
Hmm. So, if a teacher/school does not have adequate measures in place to stop or deter cheating does that give a free pass to the students? Can the students cheat—and still not violate academic integrity? Are we missing a bigger issue here?
Last week, I saw a play in a New York Yankee-Cleveland Indian baseball game. The Yankee leftfielder dove into the stands to catch a foul ball. Unbelievable catch! Or was it? Instant replay showed that he never caught the ball. When he extracted himself from the seats, he held his glove closed and ran to the dugout (as if he had caught the final out of the inning). The umpire called the batter out.
Video recommendation for the week:
Did the baseball player lack integrity? In an interview later, the player responded to a question by asking what was he supposed to do, return to left field? What do you think?
I asked two young friends what they thought. One said that since baseball has established that the umpire makes the calls, and that both teams have agreed to abide by good and bad calls, then it is not a lack of integrity on the ballplayer’s part. It is the responsibility of the ump to get it right. It is not the responsibility of the player to help the ump. The other friend said that was a good point but the player had “added to the illusion” of catching the out. By keeping the glove closed (and even tapping it) the player added to the thought that he had caught the ball. He embellished. (Thank you, Evan and Corey, for the insights.)
What is integrity? Is integrity an illusion? I would love to read your thoughts.
Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!
REGISTER NOW for my July 10, 2012 Quick Hits Webinar “P.R.I.D.E.: Five Choices for Life Success.”Click here or paste this link into your web browser:https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/9q49d/register/1988162557099051008
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please pass it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You can also follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli). Also, if you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Have a wonderful week!