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