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BOTD 05-05-2016 Blast from the Past - 1957 The Unfairness of It all - A Kat Production

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Bransom Postmaster
Blast from the Past – 1957 – The Unfairness of It All
A Kat Production

Your twelve-year-old son Desmond and another boy have been accused of cheating because they have identical answers on several test questions. Neither boy will admit to copying.  The headmaster of their school has given them until the following morning for one of them to admit guilt or they will both be caned.

Desmond and Friend - Both 12
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What advice do you have for Desmond? Is there anything more you can do, keeping in mind that the headmaster is known for his intransigence and that the school culture tends to make life hard for any pupils whose parents intercede on their behalf?

Can you dig it?


Bransom Postmaster
I will tell him to stick to his guns and take the caning if necessary. He they did cheat than they deserve the stick. If they didn't it would be good to learn that the world is sometimes unfair. (especially in 1957)

Can you dig it?


I have nothing to add to Skater's answer. Life STILL isn't always, or even usually, fair. Best to learn that sooner rather than later.


My first thought is, if it's two friends, did they study together? Of course, it depends on what the subject is, but they obviously have the same teacher, so it only makes sense for them to have studied together, and unless this is the first test he's given them, they're likely to have an idea what to study. The idea that they studied together and answered questions the same isn't as long a stretch as that they are cheating and denying it.

What would happen back in '57 is outside my knowledge, but I'd raise holy hell if something like this happened today, and I have no trouble with a scorched Earth policy.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


I agree with you, Jack, regarding "today". Or even in the 80s. I wasn't yet in school in 1957, but in the 60's, there was still very much a "the teacher is always right" state of mind.


I had left school by 1957 but the teacher is right attitude still prevailed then.


Several "IDENTICAL" answers, perhaps even some identical WRONG answers (although the scenario doesn't say).  

Although they MAY be innocent either way the evidence is pretty damning.

One may have copied clandestinely but they appear to have been complicit.  

They can cut their losses (and help cement their friendship) by agreeing only one of them takes the rap,

Bend over boy - or boys.


I'll tell Desmond he and his friend had better toss for it.

Then a few minutes later I'll wonder if Des will interpet that differently to how I meant it.......

(This does to me seem to be a quite likely scenario for 1957. Now in 2016 they can all cheat by getting their answers via Google.)

Pi Beta

I think I have to assume that the identical answers included either or both of:
- identical wrong answers
- identical (and unusual, perhaps) workings out of the correct answers for there to be more than just a suspicion of cheating or collusion.

I also assume that for the test they were sitting sufficiently close together for answers to be shared.

If none of these is true, then I do think I need to try to intercede. Otherwise, however, I tend to side with the teacher who has reported them for this. If it is collusion, both deserve the punishment. So also do they deserve it if one was deliberately allowing the other to copy.

I suspect that if I question my son along these lines, I will discover at least some collusion, in which case I will have no qualms about him being caned. If there is collusion, I would actually prefer both lads to be caned rather than one taking the blame since that one may find "cheating" on his school file follows him for ever while "collusion", though it means virtually the same, is something done in friendship and is easier to explain away.


I think collusion likely if they have identical wrong answers. Was it a maths test. If so were the workings AND the mistakes identical, if so I suspect there was collusion Were the boys next to each other during the test. Unless the other lad admits I suspect Desmond is for the high jump. I wont intervene unless Desmond can prove he was innocent. Yep school justice in 1957 works the opposite way from legal justice. Life is unfair


Editor Extraordinaire
I don't rule out an innocent explanation, but I doubt that in 1957 my interference will do anything but make a bad situation worse for my son. I'll offer him support at home, commiserate with him and advise him to take the punishment without making a fuss. If neither boy is guilty, then neither should admit guilt, as such an admission is quite likely to have lasting repercussions on his reputation. Taking a principled stand of innocence while submitting to an unjust punishment is tough, but it's really Des's only option. One positive thing that might come out of the experience is empathy for others who are unjustly accused or punished. That is likely to make him a better father, teacher, officer, employer, etc. in the future.


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