The Relevance of an Honor Code Today

At school we have been having many discussions around the purpose of our honor code. The impetus for these discussions is a premise that the values of students today may be partially in opposition to those embodied in The Academy’s Honor Code. We see the intersection of that discrepancy in rules broken as well as attitudes expressed. My desire is to engage in a serious conversation about this gap and see how to move us forwards, together, towards the enduring values in The Academy’s Honor Code.

It would be a mistake to believe that I’m simply talking about rules being broken. That is a problem in every school every day. Kids break rules; they just do. Adults are not always consistent in enforcing the rules; we just aren’t. When we do not enforce rules, we show students that we do not value them, and so students feel more liberal about breaking them. So we’ve recommitted to enforcing our rules with uniformity and fairness, and hope that our students will feel the difference.

But that is not the issue. Rules change, but values can endure. Do we value honesty? Integrity? Hard work? Do we value cleverness? Ingenuity? Passion? Whatever it is we value as people, we fashion rules to make it real. The Honor Code represents certain enduring and noble values, and what happens if some people no longer share them? That is the question.

The Academy’s Honor Code can provide great inspiration to its students and staff to be better than we are. I hope that these discussions will aid all of us in investing in that inspiration.