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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
It's an Edumacatione Rant! Yay!

I love mock_the_stupid and mocktheignorant.

Anyhoo, I was trolling -- er, as in fishing, not whacking people from under the bridge -- them for the first time in... a while, anyway, when I found this, bemoaning the inability to write papers well (along with the desire to be spoonfed an education they should work for) and posted just now, this about plagiarism, which works well with the mocktheignorant post.

While I have to laugh at the moron-girl who got caught plagiarizing, shanmonster has some excellent points regarding the entitlement displayed by students. I don't know if I can claim to have been much better -- it is always helpful to know how long a paper is expected to be so you can refine your thesis -- but there is a spoon-fed nature to education that is beginning to bother me.

I was accused of plagiarizing another student once. It was something that had been an honest mistake -- I didn't understand something that we were doing in chemistry and I had copied a fair portion of his answer on his homework (with him talking me through it) before the information clicked. Normally, I'd've listed that he'd helped me, but as I recall it was the middle of the night and we all (it was a study group) were tired when we called it quits that night. The professors called us on it and we were both horrified -- and apologetic.

I never failed to credit help again.

To my knowledge I've never failed to credit something that I've quoted, recast, or paraphrased (within reason, which reminds me that I need to footnote something in a fic I wrote recently.)

Imagine my surprise when I began seeing news articles and such about the prevalence of cheating and plagiarizing in high school and college. Articles that have emphasized that students think that they have the right to use someone else's words and turns of phrase without giving credit to the source. That students and parents alike have become outraged by educators issuing failing grades, signing up for various anti-plagiarism services, etc., because of some bizarre belief that the student has the right to coast on someone elses work.




I don't get that.

There can be a fine line, when you're writing papers and articles between quoting, paraphrasing, and plagiarism. It can be difficult to synthesize your own ideas once you've winnowed the important points from the chaff of others meanderings, but that's what education is about. That's what your professors want to see. They don't want to see students regurgitating endless, semi-literate renditions of authors they've already read. They want to see what the student thinks, if they can back up their arguments with salient points that have been proven... if they can disprove, or at least cast doubt, on the thinkers that have come before.

Education is not about grades or socialization. It's not about the perfect Perl script or magnificent magnum opus. By plagiarizing, by trying to take an easy road, the person who is cheated is the student and once their time in formal settings is gone, there's no way of getting back the time spent, the minds to work with or against -- and educating oneself, while possible and infinitely admirable, is much more difficult because it tends to occur in a vacuum.

So I see posts like these and cannot decide if I should laugh or cry, mock or rage, because between these extremes lies the indifference that allows these things to continue.