Feb 6, 2011

In Which the Author Poses a Question About His Class

I know that most of you who read this are not teachers, so I try to keep posts about teaching to a minimum.* That being said, this one needs to be shared.

Currently, I'm looking through my students' children's books. Some of them are SPECTACULAR and way above and beyond what I was looking for. I love seeing these books because it shows so much potential in a student.

But. . .

I also have those stories which are very clearly taken from another source. Whether that's a parent who meddles too much in the child's work (which basically ruins all learning that goes on for the child), or whether that's a child who has seen a movie and decided to write down the exact same plot with the exact same characters, these stories are a huge source of frustration for me.

I don't know how to deal with plagiarism. Last year I had many instances of plagiarism, and this year, that seems to be continuing.

I'm not sure why these students don't get the concept of plagiarism. It's like they don't see it as something that is wrong to do. 'Oh, I really liked that movie. I'll write it down without changing anything and turn it in! I'm so awesome.'  They understand that taking answers from another student is wrong. I wish I could somehow teach them that plagiarism is the same as cheating. I've tried explaining it like this in class, but there's somehow a disconnect.

So, does anyone have any ideas? I've tried explaining the concept every way I know how and I still have students who continue to copy. I've given zeros for copying and told the students that they can make it up if they don't plagiarize. Nothing works. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

* Some of you may be surprised to hear that I don't post about teaching as much as I want to. It kind of consumes most of my life, so I usually have to work hard to post about non-teaching subjects. Sorry if it ever gets to be too much!


Laura said...

I have two thoughts when I read this, not sure if either one is helpful.

1. Steve just recently read an article that showed how several Disney movies basically just take plots from other foreign cartoons and make them their own. I can't find it, so as I type this, Steve is posting it to my Facebook wall so that I can have the link. He warns that there are some swears in it.


2. In LT, sometimes the point of view was that cheating wasn't stealing from others, it was helping them out. IE, people would be more likely to give someone their paper to help them out, or let them see their test answers to help them out. May've come from soviet times when no one owned anything, including the answers on the test, etc.

Anyway. I don't know Africa's history, so not sure their point of view when it comes to cheating. (other than, apparently it's ok). Could you reward people who don't cheat? Would that make a difference?

Laura said...

Steve recommends especially reading about the Lion King on the link.

jerry said...

Its not just your kids. Piracy and copyright are big discussions in creative circles. Especially in GEN Y circles in relationship to video music and design.

Erica said...

Hey, Warren.
I asked a friend (since I'm still thinking of an idea) and she said to share the story of Jacob and Esau where one took the identity of the other and the problems that resulted.