SparkNotes? Seriously?

So two students just submitted their final essays. Both essays consist of a very clumsy retelling of an egregiously inane article from SparkNotes. One of the students had already been caught plagiarizing in this course.

I have given two detailed and passionate lectures about plagiarism in this course. I have put up a warning to use NO online sources in the writing of the essay a) on Blackboard, b) in 3 PowerPoint presentations, c) on the syllabus, d) on the essay instructions.

And the very first two essays I get are plagiarized from SparkNotes. I mean, really? What’s fucking wrong with these kids? They pay money they don’t have, get into debt, and all for what? To copy-paste garbage from stupid SparkNotes instead of learning?

Also, what a brilliant idea to put the prof in a vile mood one week before the end of the semester.

I have a ton of work to do right now but I’m immobilized by this insult that I in no way deserve.

Ukrainian Secretary of National Security and Defense Plagiarizes From Steve Jobs

In a Ukrainian university, the way to get a good grade is to find several sources, copy paragraphs or pages from them, and hand the entire thing in. The way to get a bad grade is to develop your own argument. “Nobody cares about your ideas! Can’t you find a few authorities and copy them, like all normal students do?” my professors in Ukraine kept exclaiming.

This is why I’m not surprised that Ukrainian Secretary of National Security and Defense, Raisa Bogatyreva, plagiarized a speech that Steve Jobs gave to the students at Stanford in 2005.

For centuries, any original thought coming from a Ukrainian was punished first by the officials of the Russian Empire and then by their Soviet heirs. The result is that now it is commonly accepted that parroting somebody else’s ideas – hopefully, as close to the original text as possible – is the best way to proceed. In political terms, the main issue that Ukraine has been trying to resolve for a long time now is whether to imitate the Russians and allow them to guide the country or whether it’s best to follow the lead of the Western Europeans. The possibility of looking for one’s own way of doing things never even gets mentioned.

I am not excusing Bogatyreva’s plagiarism, of course. I’m simply explaining what the consequences of eradicating original thinking in a country are. The case of a bureaucrat plagiarizing Steve Jobs’s speech sounds funny at first. It is a lot less entertaining, though, if you see it in terms of what it says about the future of a country whose population is 1,5 times greater than that of Canada.

Because Our Students Are Still Not Infantilized Enough

Nothing bugs me more than attempts to infantilize students and turn them into little babies who can’t be held responsible for their own actions.

Via College Misery:

My Uni has announced they are taking a kinder stance on plagiarism, meaning when students plagiarize it is because they don’t know they are doing it, not because they are lying little cheaters. We are now expected to contact the students to let them know what they did wrong, explain what they did and how to prevent it and then offer them the opportunity to redo the assignment.

Such policies are doing a great disservice both to the students and to the society on which they will be unleashed upon graduation. The students will believe that whenever they mess up, a kindly adult will explain them that stealing (because that’s what plagiarism is) is not a nice thing to do and will give them another chance.