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intertext: (miss jean brodie)
Monday, November 15th, 2010 12:41 pm
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published this article, written under a pseudonym, by someone who makes a (rather good) living writing papers for students who cheat.

He accuses us (we teachers) of being ignorant of how much of this goes on. In fact, I was perfectly well aware that such services exist; you only have to Google any vaguely academic topic and after Wikipedia usually a high percentage of the top ten entries are links directly to a term-paper factory.

What is more disturbing is the somewhat accusatory tone:

I live well on the desperation, misery, and incompetence that your educational system has created.


This is like the criminal blaming the system, and, as in many criminal cases, there is probably some truth to it. We create pressures and perhaps do not adequately provide means for students to meet and handle those pressures.

I liked the example he gave of the "rich kids," who are learning to do what they will spend their lives doing: pay someone else to provide a service for them.

This comment is perhaps a greater cause for concern:
Last summer The New York Times reported that 61 percent of undergraduates have admitted to some form of cheating on assignments and exams. Yet there is little discussion about custom papers and how they differ from more-detectable forms of plagiarism, or about why students cheat in the first place.


Custom papers do not make it impossible to detect cheating: of course we know that the student who can barely string two words together in an email did not write that smooth, coherent, intelligently argued paper. But how to prove it? Sometimes, if confronted, a student will break down and admit it. But often they do not. What are we to do?

Students hate in-class work, but often that is the only way to control whether or not the work is original.

I believe that we need to change our assignments, and to change the way we measure student success, but it feels like an endless problem. And cheating is not limited to colleges and universities: look at the Olympic athletes, already in the top of their field, already performing at a higher level than most mere mortals, who feel that they "have" to take performance-enhancing drugs in order to "compete."

Indeed, I believe it is "competition," and perhaps, at risk of sounding like a rampaging socialist, our market-driven society, that is pushing people to cheat. Colleges and universities are only the places that institutionalize the system. If the academic institutions were once again the places where people came to explore ideas, to learn, to express creativity, instead of credential factories, perhaps there would be fewer students willing to get those credentials by any means necessary.

crossposted at College English
intertext: (gargoyle)
Sunday, March 30th, 2008 03:55 pm
This morning, while I was walking on the Westsong promenade with Robinson, I passed, and greeted as I passed, my old High School art teacher and his wife. Seeing them, as I quite often do, running into them on that walk and at Thrifty's and elsewhere, made me think about how you often seem to keep encountering certain people over a lifetime, and to wonder whether there's some cosmic "connection" that makes that happen. What possible connection I could have with my High School art teacher is hard to fathom, unless perhaps we had a relationship in a previous life.

He was not one of my favourite teachers at school, being one of those small men in a position of power who become bullies. He was not a particularly good teacher, but he was an ambitious one, equipping our school with the makings of a near professional silk screen operation. He was also an expert calligrapher, and so that was one of the units of study in a year with him. He made up for lack of inspiration with extreme strictness, being known to throw someone out of his classroom for fairly minor disciplinary infractions. My guess now is that he was not very confident of his ability to control the large sporty types who took art as an easy elective, so exerted a fierce control at the slightest provocation. I disliked him. My father, in one of those expertly calculated appropriately inappropriate gestures he was so good at, hired him to inscribe a bookplate for a book my parents gave me as a graduation present. Think about that, and the little snigger my father gave as I saw the initials on the bookplate, and you'll learn something about my father (and understand perhaps why I disliked him, too).

You might think that would be enough for a lifetime, but strangely, we connected in other ways later in life. After I came back from China, I worked for a time for the University of Victoria's English as a Foreign language program. My boss? Turned out to be his wife. He turned up at a program party. And SHE was a piece of work, too (maybe another time I'll tell you about that episode of my life).

After I left there and got my job with my current college, I met him again, in another venue. Before I developed hip problems, I was quite a keen, if inexpert, figure skater. Guess whom I met at the morning "Adults Only" figure skating session? Him again. We even took a few turns around the ice together and chatted about old times.

Then my arthritis got too bad and I stopped going, but I kept running into him and his wife - the reason? They live in my neighbourhood, about three blocks away.

I hope nodding politely and exchanging greetings will fulfill whatever obligation I owe to him from a past life.
intertext: (fillyjonk)
Thursday, March 27th, 2008 09:21 am
Thinking about the attack of the killer vampire hummingbirds.

The scent of cherry blossom in the air is sweet and lovely.

Daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

What's happened to Mrs. Riseborough's house? It looks like a disaster has struck.

Student struck dead by lightning bolt when opening email.

Woo hoo! Won another Photo Face Off Challenge on Flickr!

And another one!

Why are urban fantasies always about the scruffy and the marginal? Proud, haughty Elves in HR seems much more likely.

Strange, autistic, alcoholic Billy in the park gave me a hug when I told him about Cholmondeley. It was oddly comforting.

(PS: if anyone should wish to find me on Twitter, I'm debbieg)
intertext: (Default)
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007 08:50 am
And look at all the posts on my flist! Yikes. So many things I want to respond to, but I've got work to do, and I hardly have time to write a post at all.

I want to say something about [livejournal.com profile] sartorias's lovely post, The Physical Book". She writes about how one gets attached to particular copies of books. Also about the pleasures of beautiful books and of "pre-owned" books with inscriptions and margin jottings. My gorgeous Folio Society copy of Emma just arrived and I've been having a pleasurable squee about it for days, but there are also so many shabby and beloved books in my own library that I could comment about if I had the time. (Oh, by the way, Sherwood - I'm absolutely LOVING Inda - thank you for writing it!!)

I've been so much enjoying [livejournal.com profile] anghara's posts about Japan. They fill me with travel lust again (though I have to confess I've been wondering - Irish pub, Italian restaurant, Chinese restaurant... um are you ever going to eat Japanese food?)

Then there's [livejournal.com profile] egretplume very thought-provoking post about student writing, and how creative writing instructors are being told to keep an eye out for "disturbing" writing in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings. Yikes. There a lot there that I really need to think about and want to respond to, so I've del.icio.us -ed it for another day. I may also send it out to my colleagues in the English dept.

[livejournal.com profile] beable's annoyed rant about how in the opinion of some women should not work late in the office without arranging for a male escort aroused my sympathetic ire. OMGWTF. Next, we'll be told that if we work late and walk home without an escort we "deserve" to be assaulted. grrr.

[livejournal.com profile] wordweaverlynn asks the fascinating question Is Fantasy Inherently Conservative?. Wooh. Need to think about that one before I jump in and join the 101 comments already there.

The always erudite [livejournal.com profile] oursin writes about academic writing and the pleasures to be found therein, despite the opinions of some that it is impenetrable and unreadable.

And finally, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] superfoo shares the pleasures of her first apartment!

Of course, there were many others, too, and if I didn't comment it doesn't mean I didn't read or didn't enjoy your posts. I have the greatest flist, evah!
intertext: (deerskin)
Monday, October 9th, 2006 09:04 am
This time last year, determinedly cheerful but stretched filament thin caring for my mother who was dying of the illness that took her life in January this year, I made a list of things I was grateful for that included good gin and swiffer dusters. I think I can do better than that this year, though I am in a curiously suspended state between grief, a quite unforced cheeriness, and a practical "lets get on with things" normality.

Read more... )
intertext: (Default)
Saturday, June 17th, 2006 05:35 pm
I made left-over soup today. This consists of using up the last of the salad leaves, and some wilted celery and tired "baby carrots" and whatever herbs I can find (parsley, basil, "fines herbes" etc) This is cooked in some stock and then whizzed with my handy hand blender. Today I added a dollop of buttermilk, which was suprisingly good. While doing this, I was struck with the following thoughts:

1. wondering why so many people on my flist are "foodies" as well as having the immediate interests that attracted me to their blogs in the first place. I'm one, too, though perhaps not as passionately as some.

2. wondering why groceries can't make small clamshells of salad leaves. I buy clamshells, despite usually being philosophically opposed to such things, largely because the leaves are usually nicer, fresher and more varied than the ones in the open "bulk" section of the grocery. But I inevitably get some - even quite a lot - left over, and would prefer to buy half as much at a time even though I eat quite a bit of salad. And, before you ask, my home grown isn't quite ready yet!

3. in a related vein, wondering why buttermilk doesn't come in a 250 ml carton, only in a 500 ml. The reason I buy it, usually, is to make salad dressing or creme freche with. Again, inevitably, I get lots left over, and it doesn't keep forever, and I can't make chocolate cake or buttermilk biscuits for myself every time I want creamy salad dressing (which is often)

4. my hand blender is DEFINITELY my favourite of favourite gadgets, that I would not be without. I eat a lot of soup, and make my own breakfast smoothies - that's probably why I love my hand blender and use it almost every day.
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