The Honor System
“We are going to use the ‘honor system.’” Why did the teacher state this while placing a big bowl of candy on a table in the classroom next to the door? She generously smiles, “As you leave the classroom to go out and play, everyone gets one piece of candy.” While the children’s mouths are showing all teeth, she adds, “Really, I will not be watching you because we are going to use the honor system.”
Like the above, the statement “honor system” is used when someone asks others to fulfill a request when there is often no structured arrangement in place to monitor compliance or enforce a penalty.
Such a person is appealing to the good nature and honesty in humans to be fair. Another appropriate word for it is “just.” Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary definition of just: ‘Agreeing with what is considered morally right or good.’
Why would a teacher emphasize the honor system? Go back to the classroom setting once more. The teacher placed 25 scrumptious pieces of candy in the bowl. She did not inform the 25 students of the exact amount. The glistening light the children imagine around the bowl makes it look like an overflowing barn of candy; not a medium size bowl.
Now picture the disappointment when the 25th and last child walks towards the bowl and sees there is no candy left for him or her? How would you feel knowing this is your child? How would you feel if this happened to you?
Yes, the “honor system” in a classroom setting. Teachers and others are propounding “I trust you” to an individual or group; “I know you will do the right thing.” Why? “Because you are honest, considerate, and respectful of your fellow classmates’ rights and feelings.”