As I was drifting off while reading essays from my students, I was awoken by a beautiful serenade of thought and rhetoric, a geniune attempt to rise above the stunted sentences of his peers. He remained on topic for more than three sentences, his paragraphs were full of delicious details, and he brought forth facts and figures to embolden his claims . . . oh shit.
When a student starts quoting statistics to support his idea, a sinking feeling comes over me. I hold some hope that a student will one day have done serious work outside of the scope of the classroom, on his own free time, and have calculated the needed figures to quote within his 3 page essay without the need for sources. I can hope that he is driven to memorize obscure data to present at times seemingly randomn for the purposes of essays focused on convincing me why the particular subject he has chosen to write about is adequate for the course.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find one of the above mentioned students. No what I usually find is a student who is the polar opposite of my fantasies. One that ignores the simplicity of completing the project and turns to already published material either directly or 2nd hand. After I found the original article tucked away on msn’s Encarta website, I noticed that there was another website with similiar format and tone. I read through the newspaper article on the website and realized that my student was not the only one who was plagiarizing. A poor staff writer at a local newspaper had probably stump for an idea and with a pressing deadline copied or purchased and article for submission. I thought to myself that if I was about to jepardize the students grade and academic standing, than I better do the same for the unfortunate staff writer.
Two weeks have passed and the letter I sent to the Editor in Chief has garnered no response. I doubted it would, but I felt the Editor would be better off realizing at what depths his fellow writers would stoop to in an attempt to beat a deadline.
Sometimes I ask myself, “Self, why do you bother in a world this fucked up?”