Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Plagiarism is the topic in this Chronicle of Higher Education article. And for a change, no subscription is needed to read this one.

Fourteen percent. That seems about right, I think. The vast majority of college students that I encounter are wonderful; they are bright, interested and interesting, and they make genuine effort. Sure, not every single one is brilliant (though certainly some are), there are skill issues and, of course, a lot of time spent having non-academic fun. But that's an important part of the process; guiding students in improving their skills, helping them to think, assess, interact, organize and present.

On the other hand, for that 14%, I suspect they do not share the idea that learning is important, that the process should be respected and what is discovered is intrinsically valuable. Getting the degree, a perceived ticket to lucrative employment, is the only goal pursued regardless of the cost, unless that involves making an honest effort to learn the material. The rules don't matter. Not all of these students cheat, I guess. Some go through the motions to do the work, but they refuse to be impacted by the experience. And I suppose some cheaters probably do respect learning in a way, but feel pressured to go for the highest grade in the easiest way possible. There is also a tiny minority of students who question the rules and the process. They challange the values of academe. Some are cunning and some are in earnest. These are in separate categories all together. Finally, the bright, serious, majority of students often do have a degree, and employment, as their goal; but they also appreciate that the path that leads the way contains many charms.

This is Picabo when she was a foal (or is that Peekaboo? Not sure. She was born shortly after those Olympics). But isn't this one of the cutest things you've ever seen?

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