Do you consider it immoral or unethical to make money by doing people's homework for them?

Submitted by HexNash in AskRaddle (edited )

I am on the autism spectrum and have been through 10 "regular" jobs in my life, almost all of them ending in spectacular failure due to major depressive episodes that rendered me missing too many days of work. When in such environments I also tend to space out and get lost in my mind, else I get frustrated by mundane tasks. I was unable to get a degree and dropped out of college twice for similar reasons. To get by (barely) I used to do math tutoring, but I am honestly a terrible teacher. However, I love mathematics and decided to press my luck and put an ad on Craigslist to do people's online math homework. It turns out that doing that is a nice little gig, and I did a good job with one person and they referred me to all their friends. Now, I'm only making about $50 a week doing this, as I still deal with major depression and working normal hours is out of my ability range, but that is really all I need as I live with someone else and have food stamps and medicaid to help. But lately I have been worrying that what I am doing is unethical. This is the first line of work I've ever done that I actually enjoy doing, but I worry that what I'm doing is unfair for students who actually have to do the homework, and that I'm a class traitor because my clients tend to be wealthier and what I'm doing is helping them get further ahead. I've been wrestling with myself with whether I should stop and find another way to help support myself, though I doubt I can find anything else that I both enjoy doing and generates enough money. What are your thoughts? EDIT: I should specify that the students are in college and the courses are college algebra and calculus I, not grade/high school students/courses, if that makes any difference.

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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HexNash OP wrote

I should have specified that these are college students, not high/grade-schoolers.

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fairilu wrote

I think it's fine.

Pretty much everyone who works helps the rich get richer. The system is designed for them to extract value from our labor. Don't let it get to you.

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jadedctrl wrote

This exactly. What you're doing isn't any worse than any other job, really.

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sudo wrote

I'd say it's unethical (for the reason you mentioned, and also because the students aren't actually learning the important things they need to), but if it's between doing that and starving, then definitely keep doing it.

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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sudo wrote

Math is a tool - it can be used for good or evil (or neither).

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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sudo wrote

I don't think they'll be using it for anything, since they're not actually learning how to do math. All they're doing is cheating their way through school. (And they're not necessarily rich - I used to do tutoring, and a couple of the students I tutored were really poor.)

Considering that, and considering that this is one of the only ways that OP can make money to stay alive, I'd say it's ok.

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Lavender wrote

I don’t think it’s unetheical. With those types of students, they’re not looking to learn. They’re looking to pass the class in the easiest way possible. If they didn’t go to you, they’d find another way. You might as well profit from it.

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AgitatedStatesOfAmazement wrote

While I happen to agree with you in this particular circumstance, "if they didn't go to you, they'd find another way" is generally a bad argument for why doing something is ok. The same logic is used to defend platforming fascists and I could easily see hired murderers telling themselves the same thing.

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jadedctrl wrote

I mean… if the consequence of you not taking X job is the same as if you took X job, then neither option's wrong, really. Unless you beat the heck out of whoever wants X job done, and they give up on the idea.

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videl wrote

Yeah I'm with Selver on this. School is some bullshit that reinforces authoritarian ways of life. I think you are doing a good thing by undermining the education system.
If you really don't want to feel guilty read Deschooling Society and decide for yourself.

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edmund_the_destroyer wrote

Funny, I was going to recommend "The Schools Our Children Deserve", which supports schooling but not as it's done currently and rejects the idea of homework.

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LostYonder wrote

As one who participates in the academic economy, admittedly, I'm on the fence with this.

First, it is not undermining the education system - in fact, just the opposite. If you go online you will discover that such services are a huge industry around the world! It reproduces structures of privilege, the reformation of the university as a site of neoliberalism, and undermines any vestiges of the university as a place of learning and sharing (which admittedly is quite limited to begin with, but there are some aspects of it that in fact hold much potential).

Second, it fosters entitlement and naturalizes cheating as a culturally acceptable practice. It allows students to learn how to take the easy way out of a situation rather than engage an issue.

Finally, it undermines the idea that learning is actually a social value. Yes, the university is not necessarily a site for true education, it is a hierarchical institution that serves special interests after all. But, there remain many possibilities for students to in fact experience and learn that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to. There remain many opportunities for not being part of the neoliberal institution and to connect with like-minded others (students and faculty) to advance true social engagement and learning.

All that being said, I think what is "ethical" is not based on some universal code, but rather on intentions and contexts. Given your situation, you have discovered a creative outlet that fulfills your needs. Through it, undoubtedly you may learn a lot by doing the assignments as well as provide a solid and stable income for yourself - and that shouldn't be minimized. Just don't do it with the assumption that you are undermining the university...

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videl wrote (edited )

undermines any vestiges of the university as a place of learning and sharing

Universities should lose their mythical status as a place of learning and sharing. So OP's action is undermining the education system.

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LostYonder wrote

Wishful thinking. Participating in education as a capitalist market place is hardly undermining...

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Sunset_Peach wrote

I think it's more like, the kids who pay for the cheating are unethical but not you. You just gotta eat. But they are entitled little shits. Might as well take their money because they're not gonna use it for any good otherwise.

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bloodrose wrote

School is a spook, especially college. Get paid.

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ACAT wrote

There is no shame in surviving. Do what you must do to get foods on the table. There is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism. You are actually helping people more than your school principal ever did.

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