Honesty in Education

Honesty is a fundamental pillar of the educational process. It plays a vital role in shaping the character of both educators and learners, and it underpins the very essence of the pursuit of knowledge.

When honesty is upheld, it forms the bedrock of trust between educators, students, and institutions. It creates a safe environment for open dialogue, encourages critical thinking, and empowers learners to ask questions without fear of reproach. Academic integrity, which is intrinsically linked to honesty, ensures that students are evaluated fairly, and the qualifications they earn possess enduring worth.

Honesty and education are two fundamental values that play a significant role in personal and societal development. Here’s how they are interconnected and why they are essential.


Foundation of Trust: Hanuman’s first meeting with Sita in Ashoka Vatika after she was abducted. Establishing trust with Sita was crucial for any communication to even begin. Hanuman knew that he would not be taken at face value so he had to establish his authenticity. He first started talking about Shri Ram – a subject dear to Sita. Hanuman praised Sri Ram and gave details of Lakshman to gain acceptance with Sita. Sita softened towards him and started paying attention – but she still had her doubts. He then went on to describe her abduction in detail to her – information that a rakshak would not have had. And finally he used his trump card – the ring given to him by Shri Ram.

Honesty is never complete without a mention of our Father of the Nation. Gandhiji’s uncle had a bad habit of smoking. Growing up, Gandhi and his brother had the urge to try it each time his uncle made puffs of smoke. They wanted to buy cigarettes but did not have the money to do so. They would sometimes steal the left over cigarette butts of their uncle’s. But, they were not happy with just that. They were fascinated with the puffs of smoke a whole cigarette generates. They tried a whole bunch of things for alternatives. They even tried smoking the stems of a certain plant that was known to burn like cigarettes, and even stole from the money allotted for the household help. This was not all. They resorted to other forms of theft too. When Gandhi was about 15 years old, his brother confessed to him of a debt of twenty-five rupees. Gandhi, without much thought, stole a little gold from his brother’s armlet while he was asleep and sold it the next day to clear the debt.

All of this was becoming a little too much to take in for young Mohandas. He had by then lost his peace of mind and had sleepless nights. He wanted to make amends but couldn’t think of anything that would make up for all the wrong he had done. After a lot of thinking, he decided that he would tell his father the truth. He put it all together in a letter, explaining about every sin he had committed. He was very worried that his father, who was bedridden, will be hurt more than anything. His father read the letter and tears rolled down his face. He then closed his eyes for a bit and tore the letter.

Critical Thinking – Let me narrate a story that is used in the management circles.

Many years ago in a small Indian village lived a farmer. Like most farmers he also  had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The Money lender, was old , mean and not at all good looking and he fancied the farmer’s beautiful Daughter.

He proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could give his daughter’s hand in marriage to him.
Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the Proposal. So the wicked money-lender suggested that they let Providence decide the matter.

He told them that he would put a black Pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.
1) If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.
2) If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven.
3) But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into Jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over and  picked up two pebbles.

As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag.
He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.
Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order To save her father from his debt and imprisonment.
What would you recommend to the Girl to do?
Well, here is what she did….
The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without Looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately got lost among all the other pebbles.
“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the Bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one.  And since the money-lender dared not admit his Dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

Tis is an excellent example of critical thinking

Academic Integrity: 1. The Stolen Exam Paper: Anecdote: In a high school, a teacher accidentally left a copy of an upcoming exam on the desk. A student, who happened to enter the classroom early, saw the paper and could have easily taken a photo or shared it with classmates. However, this student chose honesty over temptation and immediately reported the incident to the teacher. The teacher was grateful for the student’s honesty and commended them for their integrity.

Learning from Mistakes In an honest educational environment, it’s acceptable to make mistakes and use them as learning opportunities. In a college classroom, a professor discovered that one of their students had submitted a research paper with paragraphs copied from an online source. When confronted, the student admitted to plagiarism and expressed deep regret for their actions. The professor used this as a teaching moment, guiding the student on proper citation and the consequences of academic dishonesty. The student, grateful for the second chance, went on to become a strong advocate for academic integrity in the school.

Curriculum Development – Transparent curriculum design ensures that students receive a well-rounded and accurate education. Correction of papers by the teachers should be fair and just.

Research and Discovery – Honesty is a foundational principle in research and academic publishing. As mentioned earlier giving proper citations are essential. In scholarly pursuits, researchers, academics, and institutions must be scrupulously honest in their data collection, analysis, and dissemination. This not only advances the frontiers of knowledge but also upholds the credibility and reliability of the academic world.


Ethical Education: – Honesty is a fundamental ethical value that should be taught and cultivated within the educational system, helping students become responsible and ethical citizens. Letting an underage ward drive the car as a matter of pride.  Letting the children copy from the books and net during covid. Parents who do this will be setting a poor precedent..


Social Development – When students are taught to be honest and critical thinkers, they are more likely to engage in positive, constructive discussions and contribute to a just and ethical society. Parents sometimes tell their children to answer the call and tell the party on the other line that dad is away. Or forgotten the mobile at home.


Professional Development –  Honest individuals are more likely to build trustworthy and successful careers, as they are perceived as reliable and ethical. Tata company is known for its philanthropy and strong value base.

if you’re honest about your efforts, you’ll see that progress is being made, even if it’s slow. This will keep you going until you reach your goals.

Lastly, honesty creates accountability.



Published by Dr. Pramila Kudva

I am a teacher educator currently worrking as a Principal of a reputed school in North Mumbai, have more than 30 years of experience, with several publications to my credit and have authored a book -"From chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching.

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