IN THE NEWS
Poliblogger posted this link to a tale of incredibly stupid cheating. Wow, that's nothing. Wait until you teach at the college/university level. You've now added years to hone stupid cheating skills! Some personal examples from when I was still working in academia:
- A student turns in an essay that she clearly did not write. In fact, it's a well-known article by Eliot Cohen, "Why We Should Stop Studying the Cuban Missile Crisis." In international relations/foreign policy classes, this is about as smart as, say, handing in Huckleberry Finn to your creative writing instructor.
- I receive an essay that sounds vaguely familiar. In fact, it sounds a lot like something my advisor would have written. I show the essay to him, and without hesitation, he pulls down from a bookshelf a copy of the original article.
- Another essay is a random collection of quotes from Fire in the Lake. I later ask the student, "What exactly is this?" Her response: "I was working late, and in my extreme fatigue, I couldn't distinguish between my words and the sections of Fire in the Lake I had highlighted." My observation: "So when you're tired, you can't tell the difference between your prose, and that of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author?"
- Queenmommy catches a student red-handed, taking a test for another student. When both of them are confronted, the student who should have been taking the test said, "You can't fail me--you'd be depriving the world of a future doctor." Queenmommy's dead-on response: "We don't need doctors like you."
- A classmate in graduate school was caught plagiarizing from a scholarly publication for a major research project. His defense? "Intellectual property is theft!" Seriously.
And I could go on.
The only thing that surprised me in these cases was how uncomfortable the university was in punishing the offenders. You had people cold, doing something that is about the worst thing you can do as a student. (In the last example, it's even worse, when you're training to become an academic yourself.) Yet, university officials sometimes flinch at the prospect of angry students and parents, even when there's no question what really happened.