“Trust in God, But Tie Your Camel”

Trust in God But Tie Your Camel is an Arab proverb and one of the reported sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to Tirmidhi, one day Mohammed noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I placed my trust in Allah.” At that, Mohammed said, “Tie your camel and place your trust in Allah.” (Wikipedia)

I think I first heard the phrase several years spoken by Anthony Robbins, using a slight variation: “Trust in God, But Tie Up Your Horses.”

The phrase came back to me today as I sat watching my students take their midterm exam online. I trust my students to act in a professional and ethical way, particularly when it comes to taking a test. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take some precautions.

We had made the test open book and open notes but told them they could not be using their phone during the exam and they could not search the Internet.

While such behaviors are hard to control 100%, I believe having an implicit level of trust in my students goes a long way towards preventing cheating. But despite that trust, it is also important to minimize temptation for engaging in such behaviors. So we required the students to be on Zoom while they are taking the test. Such monitoring, while perhaps not perfect, cuts down dramatically on the temptation part, while also reinforcing in the students’ minds the importance of protecting the integrity of the academic process.

I do have to admit it is not the most exciting way to spend 90 minutes, staring at a computer screen and watching 24 students take an exam. But it seemed to go OK.

And while some students may not have done as well on the test as they would have liked, the fact that they behaved ethically is much more important to me, and hopefully to them as well.

So we’ve got a modern take on the old Arab proverb:

Trust Your Students, But Use Zoom When Testing Online.

*image from Astro Alchemy


51 thoughts on ““Trust in God, But Tie Your Camel”

  1. I had not thought far enough along to consider how online education would apply to testing. I agree with you that there must be a level of trust between professor and student. Considering you were kind enough to make it “open book and notes”, I can’t imagine how the internet could provide better or more accurate information than what they already have access to. Although we can never fully remove the opportunity or temptation to cheat, I stand by another old saying, “Cheaters never prosper”. Interesting post, Jim! I hope they all surprise you with their scores!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I hope they did really well under the strange conditions. And I hope your playlist while you watched included School’s Out and Don’t Stand So Close To Me, and perhaps Another Brick In The Wall too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like “Trust in God, but tie your camel”! But seriously, your version should be the motto of all teachers!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I have actually gone a bit too Much, now I can’t not think about it…..but it’s fine, as long as I don’t get a depression over McD’s;)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope that many other people put as much value on ethics as you do. Some of society’s values have somehow gotten screwed up. I won’t label all the unscrupulous people in government (both sides of the aisle), but I long for the day when someone’s character was more important than their politics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more about our politicians. Although I was a bit surprised to read the results of an AARP survey that asked members what is the most important issue when you go to vote – and a person’s character was fifth on the list! I thought it would have been first or second! I’m not sure what that says – have we given up on caring about the character of the people we vote for?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s my point. While I don’t want to tell other people how to live their lives, I place a high priority (higher than policy) on a person’s character. Another way to look at it is I would have a hard time being friends with someone who has a questionable character, but I can be friends with people who have a different political viewpoint than me if they have upstanding character.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Zoom, character, playlists and selling t/shirts and all from one statement…Love it! sorry, I can’t like posts WP thinks it’s my browser…it is also intermittent…I don’t know what to think as changing browsers hasn’t worked…back to the drawing board 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, the comments have gone in a lot of directions! I never understood intermittent software problems. If it works, why would it stop working?


  6. Zoom sounds like a good idea. We used Proctorio in one of my classes, and it was nerve-nacking, being watched (Jim Gaffigan’s “international travel” seems relatable here).

    With international travel, not everyone is hiding drugs or seeking to terrorize the country, but security methods are used to protect the country from possible threats, which can still make honest people uncomfortable regardless of their plans to enjoy a drug-free and crime-free vacation.

    Some people will be honest and some will cheat. Use the technology needed to monitor your students.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree it’s a bit over the top, but we need something to protect the integrity of the testing process. Thanks for adding your perspective!


Comments are closed.