I am the smartest (or nerdiest) person in my class and my classmates who I have spent a lot of my time helping during the school year, whether with homework or explaining parts they didn't understand keep asking me to let them cheat from my paper.

I want to tell my teacher to change my seat so that they can no longer cheat from me but I don't know if I should do it.

Please note that I am a really shy timid person so I can't easily stand up to people, and I have a feeling that my classmates know that well. They keep on asking me for favors and help, and each time I do whatever they ask. Please also note that I can't simply say no to them because I have 2 more years to spend with the same class and I don't want to be hated.

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    What grade are you in? Nov 20 '21 at 18:53
  • 1
    I sympathize. Once I helped a person study for a biology exam (this was in high school) and my test-taking skills were developed enough that I was able to say, "This, this and this, etc. will be on the exam, so know these answers." After the test the other student accused the teacher, in class, of telling me what would be on the test! Helping other students can lead to awkward situations, and yours is one. Never allow someone to cheat off your test paper.
    – Wastrel
    Nov 21 '21 at 15:21
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    You should distinguish between being shy and being a pushover. Yes, it is difficult to stand up for what you know is morally right, but you always have the choice to do what is right or not. And this, ultimately, is the real issue, because in the future you will face not only cheaters who are trying to use you as a throwaway stepping stone but also other bad people who may do worse. And yes, you can avoid direct confrontation by asking the teacher to help prevent the cheating.
    – user21820
    Nov 21 '21 at 16:35
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    Doing things simply because saying no is hard is something that could potentially remain a problem for the rest of your life. It's best dealt with early on and having other people solve the problem for you would not always be an option (especially not after you leave school). If someone "hates" you for not letting them cheat off of you (assuming they don't just find someone else), then they never really liked you to begin with (they were just using you, which isn't a healthy relationship for you). Also, letting them cheat isn't helping them in the long term (but don't tell them that).
    – NotThatGuy
    Nov 21 '21 at 17:44

This seems like a question from a very young person. I'm going to assume that, though it makes this question off topic here. I hope my exception won't be objected to by other users.

Yes, you can talk about this with your teacher and between you a solution might be found, though an obvious move might make your friends also distrust you. I'd suggest not naming people.

But the bigger issue is your shyness. The fact that you are willing to help people is a really good thing. I hope you aren't being coerced into its, though.

The reason I'm giving an answer is to suggest that it is time for you to learn how to overcome your shyness so that you can take a more active role in lots of situations, not only this one.

I, too, was too (far too) shy growing up. It seemed impossible for me to speak up for myself when it was necessary. It was only a lot later that I learned that being shy (introverted) doesn't limit what you can do if you learn to do it. It takes practice, however and maybe a few sessions with a counsellor who can give you tips.

I was once so shy that I couldn't look into people's eyes, though that isn't frowned on in my culture as it is in some. It seemed to me like people could see my soul if I looked directly at them. A counsellor suggested otherwise and I practiced doing what others do naturally and finally overcame it. But, not speaking up in a particular case once caused me a very large setback in my education and career.

I once asked a friend I'd known for a long time if it seemed to him like I'd changed my personality over the years, going from introvert, hiding in the background, to extrovert, putting my ideas out into the general mix. He thought for a moment and decided that yes, so it seemed. I was still the same person inside but seemed to be different outside. An act of a sort, but it becomes easy once you practice it enough.

I have another friend who is very important (famous) in our field (CS) and he is well sought after as a public speaker. But he is actually a bit autistic, which is beyond introverted (not the same, really, but it has similar tendencies for some). He taught himself to act in public by joining an acting group so that he could play roles that hid his personality but let him seem to be as extroverted as necessary in any given situation. He is still quiet, but speaks with authority.

So, it isn't that you can't do certain things. It is that they are uncomfortable for you and you don't, yet, have enough practice in doing so. It can be learned through practice, just like learning math can be.

If you can learn to do such things at an early age and combine it with a willingness to help people learn, you'd probably make an excellent professor someday. It was something I needed to do along my own path, which is what leads me to write this.

It won't surprise me if many users here have something similar in their backgrounds.

Note that the "setback" to my education and career that I describe here happened in grad school, so the need to overcome shyness can hit at any age. Maybe this isn't quite so off topic after all.

  • 2
    Introverted is absolutely not the same as being shy, nor the other way around. Nov 21 '21 at 13:17
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    @SebastiaanvandenBroek, nor is autism the same as either of them. But they are often confused and can be expressed in similar ways. But it is necessary for any professional to be able to express their ideas and needs and that can take practice so one doesn't get steamrolled.
    – Buffy
    Nov 21 '21 at 13:27
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    I agree, that’s why I think it’s risky to confuse a character trait (introversion) with lack of confidence which is what shyness usually is. Nov 21 '21 at 13:29
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    "This seems like a question from a very young person. I'm going to assume that, though it makes this question off topic here" It'd be on-topic if they're an undergraduate, I think.
    – nick012000
    Nov 21 '21 at 14:42
  • It may well be that shyness isn't the real issue. It certainly wasn't for me, when I was in a similar situation. It's that if you don't do what those classmates (not friends!) demand, they will gang up and beat you up after class. And since they are probably on school sports teams, there's no real chance that they'll be punished in any meaningful way.
    – jamesqf
    Nov 21 '21 at 17:47

I originally want to write a comment but I don’t have enough reputation for that. To add on Buffy’s excellent answer and respond to your last paragraph, I think it is good to help your friends, but you have to be judicious. I understand that some shy people have the fear that if they don’t agree to other people’s request, then they may be disliked. But (supported by my personal experience) it is simply not true, sometimes quite the opposite. If you help people based on that fear and can’t “say no”, large chance is that they will exploit you, and they will give no respect, which does not help the relationship. By saying no in appropriate situation, you develop personal power and (albeit slowly) earn the respect of the others. It is probable that some (toxic) people will turn against you for that, but overall decent people will stay and you will be free of the mental burden you experience. I was like you before, but I realized that even sometimes I said no to people (maybe I don’t have enough of time, or energy), they still like me as a good friend. Of course I like to help people, but now I put myself on emphasis and live more happily on this matter. For practicality, I suggest finding some reasonable excuses to refuse when you don’t think it is comfortable to help (this does not attack the current matter, but I am suggesting for future needs). The important point is that, you are the most important person in your world. If you don’t think so, then people will not value you either. Sorry for my English, I am not native speaker.

  • Good answer! The people who stick with you are indeed what you yourself pick out via your actions and words.
    – user21820
    Nov 21 '21 at 16:38

If you can, try telling your friends that you want to continue to help them understand the material, but that it makes you very uncomfortable when they ask you for help during a test.

You might want to do this one at a time, not in a group. Since seats seem to be assigned, you have to deal only with the one or two close to you.

You need not say it's wrong (even if you think so) or blame it on them (even if you do). You need not say why it makes you uncomfortable. In fact, giving no reason makes it harder for them to argue with you - they can't really tell you not to feel as you do.

  • To piggyback off of that, just say you're paranoid about getting caught and that you don't want to risk it.
    – iYOA
    Nov 21 '21 at 7:49

Yes, you can ask your teacher and if they are nice they will reseat you (I would and I was a teacher for a long time). However, the teacher might not resist the temptation to make some sort of joke alluding to your isolated seating later on.

  • I have done it -- gone up to the student and "asked" them to move (after they told me they wanted to). There's no need to even say anything since the moving student is always perceived as the problem ("the dumb teacher thought she was distracting us"), which covers us the real reason and any possible accusations. Nov 21 '21 at 13:53

Not a solution to the long term problem perhaps, but if you don't want to make a confrontation about it quite yet, you could try disappearing for a time before the test and turn up at the very last minute, so as to need to take the last seat available.

Not 100% reliable of course, your 'friends' might save a seat for you, but a thought.

If you were going to talk to your teacher about it, then yes, I'd keep any names of others out of it (the teacher will know who you mean anyway), and perhaps you could arrange with the teacher to make sure the last seat available was not where the others are, perhaps by the teacher telling the others who arrive before time to 'shuffle up to the front', depends how cunning and co-operative the teacher is. Not ideal though.

Alternatively, you could ask the teacher to decide that the pupils must sit in alphabetic order, I don't know how innocuous or otherwise that might be, school is a long while back for me but we were often told to arrange ourselves in alpha order of surname and first names to make checking our attendance on an list easier. That might make it seem less contrived then the teacher simply moving selected people apart.

It may well be the case that the teacher has noticed this going on, you may only be confirming what they already suspect, and will no doubt be happy to oblige with some reasonable way to separate you.

As a semi-confrontational measure, if you got in first and chose a seat right at the front, nearest the teacher or in a front corner. It would be hard for anybody to consult with your turned back, and very easy to detect from where the teacher mostly lurks during the test. Your 'friends' would no doubt take it up with you afterwards if they now expect your co-operation.

In the end if would be good for you as a young person to stand up to the others and calmly decline to co-operate, but others have written extensively on that, so I won't, apart from relating something vaguely similar in my school days.

When I was about 15 or 16, roughly 1981, I was in a small class for one subject, scripture as it goes, only about 9 of us taken from various classes. One boy was fascinated with the new digital watch my mother had given me and asked to have a look at it, I took it off to proudly show him my prize (nobody else had such a gleaming artefact at the time !) and he decided to borrow it to wear and play with for the whole lesson. The next scripture class he asked... demanded with menaces if he could borrow it again, so I let him. The third time I took it off beforehand and when he asked again told him it was at home but he looked at my wrist, saw the chain link impression on my skin and worked out my ruse, and spent the lesson with my watch again. The fourth time I wore it and said no, and he asked again more forthrightly, I somehow held my ground and he backed off. It was quite a moment for me, I had stood up to Andy A., one of the toughest guys in our year, well, maybe top 10% on that scale anyway (with me being firmly bottom 10% material), I didn't get pounded to a bloody pulp at the next play time, and I felt proud of myself.

  • "your 'friends' might save a seat for you" - that's a good point. OP's teacher might decide to turn a blind eye to it as well; after all, it's all a part of social interactions the instructor has very limited control/influence over.
    – Lodinn
    Nov 21 '21 at 19:22

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