One Tiny Rant

Actually, just a question:

Why is it that it’s always the nitwits writing the knee-jerk anti-Japanese generalization-crammed those-islands-are-ours-and-[all-of]-the-Japanese-are-would-be-evil-oceanic-rock-thieves-type essays that think they can get away with plagiarism and cheating?

Evidence of not thinking in one area relating to not thinking in another, perhaps?

Ah well. Not many more rants left… according to the progress meter, I’m 24% done as of today. By this time tomorrow night, I’m hoping for 50% or more.

5 thoughts on “One Tiny Rant

  1. In my experience, plagiarism in general is just more common here. I haven’t had your experience teaching, but I used to translate for a tourist magazine here, and sometimes I would try to do a little background research on some of the articles on the internet. A lot of times I found the exact same sentences on not one webpage but several, so much so that it was impossible to tell who was copying from whom. And it wasn’t like an open-source, Wikipedia type of sharing. We’re talking wholesale ripping off of people’s stuff, and this ripped off stuff often made it’s way into these magazine articles. I lost all respect for these magazine writers the first time I saw that. How friggin’ hard is it to write your own sentences? I guess they figured it didn’t matter, since the article was going to be translated into English and would never see the light of day in the original Korean anyway, but the shoddy approach to their craft and complete disregard for intellectual property really irked me.

    Heh. I think my rant is longer than yours. Oops.

  2. Yeah, it’s also ubiquitous in many universities, and that means even good ones, I suspect — the students just probably find top-tier forms of plagiarism that help them not to get caught. Last semester, I even caught students whose work normally was their own, plagiarizing work from the Internet.

    Plagiarism really pisses me off, most especially because it reinforces the sense many people have that they have nothing worthwhile to say. A person who respects himself or herself says what he or she thinks or believes, instead of using the words of others to pretend she or her has said something. That’s besides all those other well-known reasons.

    So I drafted a letter to my students, to post on the student blog. I haven’t posted it yet, because it needs some editing and compression — most people who cheat won’t read past the first line or two anyway, and maybe it’s better just to talk about this in class — but you can see how I feel about all of this below.

    Hi there. I’m at home, grading essays.

    To those of you who worked really hard to prepare good, well-written essays, I would like to say thank you. I know it’s not easy to write an essay in English, and I am impressed with your work, no matter how much red ink I put onto your paper.

    I especially want to thank those of you who are honest, for not copying text from the Internet and pretending that you wrote it. Because there are web pages where you could have done that.

    Such as this page and this page. If you copied text from one of those pages, for example, I’ve caught you. As I said at the beginning of semester, cheating on anything, but especially a test, gets you an F in my class, and no excuses are acceptable.

    Yes, I am angry about someone cheating. And no, I will not change my mind. Anyone who cheats — even a little bit — gets an F.


    I told you at the beginning of the semester that this was one of my class rules.

    Cheating is stealing, both from the person who wrote the text you copied, and from the other students who did hard work on their own to write their own essays.

    Cheating is also a foolish decision. People who cheat learn only one thing in school: how to copy and paste from the internet. Is that worth the cost of tuition? Even a monkey can learn to copy and paste.
    Isn’t it a waste of time to pretend to be a university student if someone is so lazy that she is not even willing to write her own essays, isn’t it?
    Cheating is an insult to me. It assumes I am stupid enough not to catch a copied essay.

    Cheating is an insult to other students, because it ignores their work.

    Cheating is an insult to your University, because it implies that studying and knowledge isn’t important — that school is just a stupid game. This is a very ignorant and immature way of thinking about university.

    When you cheat or plagiarize, you’re insulting everyone around you, and lowering the quality of education — not just for you, but for everyone.

    That is why, in many universities in the world, cheating in this way can get a person expelled from university.

    I will not try to have students kicked out of university. But I also will not tolerate cheating.

    People who cheat are not welcome in my classroom. If you cheated on your essay, don’t bother coming to class again. Instead, think carefully about what you’re doing in university before you waste more time and money trying to trick teachers into giving you grades you haven’t earned.

    To everyone else, thank you, and I am enjoying your essays, which are on so many diverse and interesting topics. However, it’s a really big pile, so please be patient! Have a nice weekend, and I hope you have a wonderful meal (or drink or whatever) with your partner.

    As I said, I haven’t posted that, but boy did I want to. I imagined the kid who copied from those sites clicking the links and stewing in worry thereafter. But you know, I think I’ll talk about it in class instead.

    As you say, how friggin’ hard is it to write your own sentences, when you’re still just spewing the same crap you’ve seen elsewhere? Even that, I’d be okay with.

    But, as I was saying, it seems to me the people who are likeliest to cheat are also the ones likeliest to regurgitate the lowest common denominator point of view — the tabloid-news point of view — on any issue they’re confronted with. I won’t say there’s a causal relationship, but from experience I think there is a correlation between people who can’t or don’t think critically about the news they’re fed, and don’t or can’t think critically about intellectual property, and don’t or can’t understand that university is for learning, not for pretending to learn.

    (Likewise, some people who are likely to cheat are likely to pretend to hold a view they think their teacher holds — though this is less common than those who are straight out syncophants for rabidly jingoistic tabloid news. I’m saying cheaters and syncophants are often the same kinds of people…)

  3. I followed the plagarism link. I agree with your point about cheating and plagarism and also find it rampant but what i found interesting in a completely different way were the comments on the page you linked to.

    There was not one comment based on the article. Every one was spam and there were perhaps a hundred of them. Crazy.

  4. “I won’t say there’s a causal relationship, but from experience I think there is a correlation between people who can’t or don’t think critically about the news they’re fed, and don’t or can’t think critically about intellectual property, and don’t or can’t understand that university is for learning, not for pretending to learn.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. There is definitely a correlation.

    And I agree that you should probably talk about the issue in class. It will be harder or the offending students to tune you out.

  5. Kwandongbrian,

    Woah. That spam… I don’t remember it being there yesterday. As it’s mostly Anglo-spam, all I can say is that I hope they nabbed the address from my site.


    I think you’re right… I’ll definitely have a talk with that class when I hand the essays back…

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