Shared Spirit: Study in Case Studies

Shared Spirit: Study in Case Studies

Should a student take the liberty to invent new scenario's for her school assignment or use facts.

Rachel Stein

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

It’s hard to believe, but the end is finally in sight. With G-d’s help, persistence, perseverance and hefty doses of coffee, I will achieve my master’s degree in special education this summer.

The journey has been rife with peaks and valleys, and to see the crest of the mountain is invigorating.

“Your case study is due next week,” our teacher says, and my insides begin a frenetic dance.

Yes, I knew the deadline was looming. But when you’re working two jobs and taking college courses, life leaves you puffing, breathless and wondering why a 24-hour day keeps getting shorter.

When I first reached out to Shelly regarding my case study, she was happy to allow me to spend time with her daughter, Robin, who is challenged with special learning needs. As a neighbor and friend, Shelly was happy to help.

But I’m learning that even friends have their limitations. As my brother said, “People have their own busy lives. You’re only a tiny piece in the puzzle of their day, so even though this project is your priority, it’s not theirs. And that’s why you get shoved onto the back burner.”

I sigh, clenching my fists in frustration as I hang up the phone. Shelly had assured me that 7 o’clock would be a convenient time to have a second meeting with Robin, but she said I should call first to confirm. What is that noise? Well, it’s like a low-throated growl inching its way up my throat because no one is answering the phone at Shelly’s house.

That leaves me stuck while my deadline inches inexorably closer.

Suddenly, a brainstorm niggles its way into the more fertile part of my mind. My conscience is appalled, but perhaps it’s justifiable under the circumstances.

What if I invent the second and third parts of the case study?

I am supposed to meet with Robin at three intervals so that I can see how she performs in different situations. Then I can analyze whether external factors are impeding her learning or whether her processing problems are unrelated to her environment.

Before you clang the gavel and pronounce me guilty of fraud, allow me to give you a picture of who I am and the values I cherish.

I am a paradigm of honesty and integrity. I refuse to borrow someone’s membership to a given entity so that I can enter a place free of charge. I have never lied about my age to diminish the correct ticket price of an attraction. I return to a store if I accidentally get too much change.

And in response to the resounding boom the one time I accidentally backed into someone’s car, I left a note on the windshield with my name and contact information.

There was even one time when I began an online test, and the first question was “Did you study?” I could feel the blood draining from my face because I hadn’t. What in the world was I supposed to do?

I quickly closed the computer and poured over my notes for 20 minutes. Reopening the document, I was then able to answer the first question with a resounding yes and a clear conscience.

Back to my dilemma. I try calling Shelly again, to no avail. It’s too late to start with someone new, especially because I have a promising beginning with Robin.

If you were in this bind, what would you do? Would you put more pressure on yourself by waiting for Shelly to call you back — possibly the next day or the day after — before completing the assignment? Or would you tor two so that you could have peace of mind and a paper completed with plenty of time for necessary edits and revisions?

Both options cause my heart to palpitate as if I’m running a marathon. Any suggestions for an aspiring student?

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