Gut Rumbles

October 23, 2005

Idiocy starts early

A little background, my DH is a 7th and 8th grade science teacher somewhere in SoCal. He teaches honors classes. Yeah. Right.

I posted this on my blog earlier tonight, but I thought I would share how farookin' stupid these kids are when it comes to cheating.....

DH just assigned his first research assignment, a 1-2 page essay on an element, and it was due last week. We've been grading them this weekend, and it's unbelievable how brazen some of these kids are about plagiarism.

Clearly these kids are too stupid to know how NOT to get caught. I'd like to point out a few things they can do to keep from getting caught:

1. You're 12 or 13. You don't know what the word "albeit" means. Or the word "allotropic". Or the word "criticality". Is that even a real word????

2. You're AMERICAN, so you don't spell using "oxidises", "grey", or "colourless". Not to mention "Aluminium".

3. Changing the color of the text doesn't make it any harder for me to google the OBVIOUS copied phrases in your paper, like "Plutonium has assumed the position of dominant importance among the transuranium elements because of its successful use as an explosive ingredient in nuclear weapons and the place which it holds as a key material in the development of industrial use of nuclear power."

You need a PhD to write a run-on sentence like that. Hell, I have a PhD and I can barely make sense of it.

4. When you cut and paste text that includes links, try to remove the underlines and change the text color to match the stuff you actually wrote, mm'kay?.

5. Utterly ruining the grammar of the sentence doesn't stop me from googling and catching you cheating. (ex: "He was impressed by the vivid colors of the chromium compounds, and such a joy after the endless colorlessness of sodium and potassium compounds." ain't a good way to hide the sentence "He was impressed by the vivid colors of the chromium compounds, such a joy after the endless colorlessness of sodium and potassium compounds." An eighth-grader DOES NOT use words like "endless colorlessness" anyway, duh.)

6. When cutting and pasting from two different sources, be sure you don't include the same information twice. This is a dead giveaway that you have no idea what's on your paper.

7. When cutting and pasting, try not to include the "Back to the Top" link at the bottom of the page.

8. Mr. DH is smarter than you. He knows when you are talking straight out your ass. Mrs. DH is also smarter than you, and she is VERY GOOD with Google. Keep these things in mind.

At least 4 of the little turds are going to get referred to the counselor. After I found the pages they copied from, I bookmarked them, and when we take the computer upstairs, DH is going to print them out. I wrote the URLs of the "suspected" sources on the papers marking the plagiarized text, as well.

Moral: Don't cheat, but if you do, only use sources you COMPLETLY understand and proofread, dammit!!!

I can't believe how easy it was to catch the little fuckers. I can't wait to hear what happens to them....


Turnem in to the original writers, and let their lawyers have a go at them.

Posted by: Bane on October 23, 2005 03:24 AM

Hmm sounds like there might not be TOO much honor in these 'honors classes'.

Posted by: wanda on October 23, 2005 04:20 AM

LOL! How difficult would it be to have the little critters submit their papers written with a old-fashioned pen?

827 years ago when I was their age, I had a English teacher, 23-24 years old, strawberry blonde, assembled in such a fashion that God wept, and she assigned 2 books each month to read and write a report showing comprehension and all those other things English teachers are peculiar about. I read and wrote 4 a week. So did the other 14 male classmates! Smitten I tell ya! ;o)

..then there was our home room teacher... 'bout the same age and beautifully brunette. All those young cow-eyed male children.. God spent a lot of time crying!

Posted by: Bogdaddy on October 23, 2005 05:29 AM

Oh they will get a stiff warning, I assure you.

Posted by: Yogimus on October 23, 2005 08:05 AM

Considering that College students barely even get a slap on the wrist these 'Enlightened' days (Can't hurt feelings after all), these kids will prolly just be told that 'plagerizing is bad, mmkay?' and that is it.

My sister was teaching introductory chemistry classes at her prior university and caught 3 students cheating rather blatently. As per the sylibus they signed at the beginning of the qtr, she flunked them. She was then forced to change their grades to C's, because flunking someone for cheating was poor form....

Posted by: Mythilt on October 23, 2005 09:28 AM

Hate to say it, but they won't do much. I work as a teacher's aid at a high school out here in So. Calif.
Middle school teachers just want to get the kids thorugh school and dump them on to the high school. We can get rid of the kids to "alternitative" schools if they continue to fail or misbehave.
I cringe when the new batches of freshmen come in. Luckily I work for a teacher that pounds in to their little head that they will work and be accountale for their actions.

Posted by: Maeve on October 23, 2005 09:47 AM

From what I've seen of parents, their reactions will range from "Thank you. We'll nip this in the bud. He has to understand that this sort of thing is not acceptable." to "Liar! How dare you slander my little darling! This will ruin his career. You will hear from my lawyer!"

Posted by: Ernie G on October 23, 2005 09:48 AM

What's a DH?

Posted by: Henry Blowfly on October 23, 2005 09:58 AM

Henry: DH= dear/darling husband

I agree that people shouldn't be plagiarizing in any way shape or form but catch this one; the other side of it (too far the other direction IMHO): one of the girls in our ED program got cited for plagiarism because she didn't reference "Simon Says" when using it in a lesson plan for a "Movement in Education" class. Sorry, I'm all for giving credit where credit is due - absolutely - but that was a bit much, I thought.

Posted by: Lisa on October 23, 2005 10:26 AM

My guess is, nothing much is going to happen to these kids when they get reported. And, that is a major part of the problem. They have never been held accountable for anything in their lives, and this will be no exception!

Posted by: Bob on October 23, 2005 10:30 AM

The sad thing is, how many of the papers in question were probably done by the PARENTS of the children, trying to help their children in a misguided fashion?

Posted by: BobG on October 23, 2005 11:29 AM

What the kids (or any paper authors) are SUPPOSED to do is read those works, cut out the important information that proves the points that they have listed in their outlines, and quote them in the body of the paper, footnoting the works and the authors.

These kids are just taking improper shortcuts. The teacher is partly at fault for not requiring a formal research paper format.

If the students were required to write every essay or research paper with footnotes and quotes, this wouldn't happen.

The teacher could have given an instruction, "You're going to find this information on the internet. That's OK, but since I know that none of you are nuclear scientists, I expect to see all the facts you write down quoted and showing both the authors and their works. If you give me a fact and it's not quoted or footnoted, you are telling me that you came up with that fact as an original idea. If you didn't, you are a liar and you will fail this course."

See how easy that is? I'm only a teacher by hobby, and have no PhD, but that answer jumps out at me from the pages of the history of study.

Posted by: Rivrdog on October 23, 2005 11:33 AM

2. You're AMERICAN, so you don't spell using "oxidises", "grey", or "colourless". Not to mention "Aluminium".

I use "grey" and I was born in Southern Mississippi and I've lived here all my life. I think it looks better. Don't know if I would in a paper, though.

Posted by: Adam Lawson on October 23, 2005 11:34 AM

I have a Ph.D. myself and teach at one of the local colleges part-time. What you say about plagiarism comes as no surprise to me. You should see what the "Honors Students" in college turn in these days. They have no problem copying an entire research paper verbatim and turning it in as their own work. I guess they think I am too stupid to do any research myself. Honestly, I don't know what they are thinking. I kick them out of my class for the semester and turn them over to the Dean. They usually get a one semester suspension from the college. Let them explain that to their parents. The kids today are all fucking spoiled brats that have never had to work for anything. I truly dread what this country will become when they are running it 20 years from now. I say give them the maximum punishment now and maybe they will learn the right lesson and become a true "Honor Student" in the future.

Posted by: assrot on October 23, 2005 11:52 AM

Well, they could learn that a zero on a paper will really pull down their grade when it's averaged in. There's a lesson here for the learning and that's what they're in school for, right?

A lesson well applied will serve them for a long, long time.

I had a prof in my foreshortened college career who must have had an eidetic memory. Often if you asked him a question he'd give you a book reference complete with page number and how far down the page your answer was located. I was very careful with my references and footnotes on papers I turned in to him.

On the other hand I had a history teacher in 7th/8th grade who was impressed by volume. You could copy answers straight out of the textbook and the more you copied the more she loved it.

There is, of course, a great difference in the different levels of education. Honors student should be at least bright enough to paraphrase what they write.

Posted by: StinKerr on October 23, 2005 12:09 PM

I cracked up when I read this on your site and had forwarded it on to my recent honors college grad daughter, shaking my head in dismay. I hope your DH nails these little shits hard and fast -- MAYBE if they learn that they can't get away with it in Middle School, it'll help them learn how to do real research for later on in life. I remember having team teaching in Jr High whereby the English teachers were actually teaching correct research format (ibid & op cit, etc.) which we then had to use in other fields like science ... I hate to even think of having to slog through 30 hand-written pages from that age group but maybe baning computers and making them write long-hand would 1) improve their cursive skills (which god knows we ALL need in this day of everything via computer) 2) teach them to use a library and do research the old-fashioned way (somewhat akin to making sure a kid can tell time from a dial clock before letting them wear a digital watch or introducing them to math without a calculator!) and 3) level the playing field for those kids who for whatever reason (socio-economic or just plain parent sanity) don't have regular access to a home computer. That way, if they were copying other work by hand at least some of the information would stick in their little pea-brains [and thus possibly even enlarge them and strengthen some of their neural pathways] AND they would get some penmanship practice and possibly even develop (gasp) legible handwriting ... I'm just sayin' ...

Posted by: Marianne on October 23, 2005 02:25 PM

Hope your DH doesn't get sued for ruining the poor li'l losers' academic careers...

Poor kids, always raising the bar without warning.

Posted by: Billy on October 23, 2005 02:35 PM

I hear there may be some reporting positions opening up at the New York Times.

Posted by: Tim Higgins on October 23, 2005 03:28 PM

In my undergrad BioPsych class, a student copied an entire chapter of a book for his final research paper.

The idiot failed to realize the author of the book was also our course instructor.

Posted by: rightisright on October 23, 2005 03:28 PM

Dammit, I certainly understood the word albeit when I was twelve. And I actually spell aluminium with an iu. And my spelling of the word grey switches back and forth. Of course, in both my junior and senior years of highschool I managed to read about 280 books in my own time, so I am perhaps an atypical example, but still.

Posted by: Jordan on October 23, 2005 03:40 PM

Some of the hand-written ones were clearly cheaters as well.

Rivrdog, my husband DID give that instruction. that's one of the reasons this is so funny.

It was discussed in the class syllabus, too. Mom and Dad had to sign off on it, so they know what's considered cheating as well.

These kids should know what is wrong by the time they're 12 and 13.....

They will get punished, I assure you. And I'll be watching them.

Posted by: caltechgirl on October 23, 2005 04:41 PM

oh, and Jordan, these kids aren't that well read, some of them are ELL (politically correct version of ESL).

Posted by: caltechgirl on October 23, 2005 04:44 PM

I thought it meant Designated Hitter. Which I kinda like better.

Oh, and I use aluminium and grey all the time, just to fuck people up.

Posted by: Velociman on October 23, 2005 05:49 PM

I always thought that was the minimum number of years you had to attend an institution to be consided an "alum".

And damn, now I find out that it IS grey shit

1 ( P ) Pronunciation Key (lm)
Any of various double sulfates of a trivalent metal such as aluminum, chromium, or iron and a univalent metal such as potassium or sodium, especially aluminum potassium sulfate, AlK(SO4)2∑12H2O, widely used in industry as clarifiers, hardeners, and purifiers and medicinally as topical astringents and styptics.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on October 23, 2005 08:16 PM

On the other hand, my son was very bright. One of his teachers was sure that he was plagarizing--or at least getting parental help with-his papers. This was mostly due to the fact that his handwriting was subpar while the writing was wel above it. It took her several months to catch on, but she finally did and his grades went from mediocre to tops, deservedly.

He's still pulling mostly A's in his junior year in university, but his handwriting is also still near-illegible. We're all grateful for keyboards.

Posted by: John on October 24, 2005 12:24 PM

I too knew "albiet" when I was 12. Hell, I read at a college level when I was in 6th grade.

Totally separate: In high school it was the teacher who cheated, by not actually reading the papers and tests he was grading. One student put it to the test (ahem) during finals when asked to answer an essay question.

He wrote a short opening paragraph pertaining to the question. Paragraph two started with the words "I pledge allegiance to the flag..." and continued on from there, quoting the pledge in its entirely. Topped it off with a closing paragraph.

Got an "A".

Posted by: Strider on October 24, 2005 01:50 PM

Uh... I meant to say "albeit". One point off for spelling.

Oh , yeah... I spell it "grey" -- I wasn't even aware until recently that that was considered a "Britishism".

I also say "Y'all" sometimes, which is a bit unusual for a guy born & bred in the wilds of Chicago suburbia.

Posted by: Strider on October 24, 2005 01:55 PM

Cheaters will cheat, no matter how difficult it is for them. The Internet, of course, makes it ridiculously easy in a case like this, but even when it takes work, they'll do it.

My DP is a retired music professor who taught at UCLA. Many years ago for a composition class he gave an assignment in style composition: write a menuet movement for string quartet in the style of Haydn.

One guy turned in a piece which wasn't very good in the first and last sections, but the trio, the middle section, was excellent. That's because he had stolen it from a genuine Haydn string quartet.

There was no way for a computer to make this easy. He had to go to the library, research the Haydn quartets, find an appropriate trio section, and include it when he wrote out his final paper. By hand. It was almost more work than doing the assignment.

BTW he was astonished when he got caught. As if a full professor with a Ph.D. would not know his Haydn well enough to tell the real thing from a novice composer's weak imitation. Sheesh.

Posted by: Steve T. on October 24, 2005 04:30 PM

A really minor nitpick: while "grey" is an unusual spelling for an American, I seem to have adopted it, and can't shake it. If I had to guess, maybe it was all the Tolkien and Lewis I read when I was a kid (at least a dozen times for Rings, at least half that for Narnia). British spelling isn't as reliable as some of the other indicators.

Posted by: Martin L. Shoemaker on October 24, 2005 06:16 PM

beleive me, with these kids, it is. And combined with other "SAT" words and telltale remnants of web pages, it becomes clear.

Posted by: GMT on October 24, 2005 07:48 PM
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