2 minutes for plagiarizing

I have heard of students being suspended for entire semesters or even expelled for plagiarizing, and all I can ask is why does everyone treat it like the plague Howard describes it as? Yes, the internet makes sources more readily available and easier to copy. But honestly, any student willing to pay someone else to do their work for them is probably not going to see that suspension as a punishment or learn anything from it. So tell me, when did universities become the place where the punishment doesn’t fit the crime?

I also think the UD code of conduct on plagiarism is far too strict. Students are going to compare answers and often share notes or work together, yet they fail because it’s deemed plagiarizing. They’re doing the work and told it’s not theirs. There are only so many answers you can get on a lab report or a math problem before people have overlapping submissions. When did teachers become police? Professor Howard certainly thinks people are going too far. “All those who worked to get advanced academic degrees in order to police young adults, please raise your hands. No hands? Then let’s calm down and get back to the business of teaching.” She’s right. Not everyone who ‘plagiarizes’ is copying an entire paper from someone else word for word and just changing the name on the top. The issue is not so black and white. Sometimes people just forget to put quotations around something that isn’t their own.

I really like the fact that a professor is telling people to calm down. She gets it. There’s a whole lot of different circumstances behind cheating or plagiarism. But the punishment should fit the crime, if there is a crime at all, not just a rushed, all-nighter and caffeine induced mistake.

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Blue line

Anyone who has ever used Microsoft Word knows that blue line under a “grammatical error,” yes? Not only are some of their corrections actually wrong, but trying to type up a creative piece? Oh good luck, all ye weary authors. Grammar rules leave no room for accents in voice, style changes to show dialogue compared to a written word, or even just the personality behind the narration. I should probably turn off the grammar and spell check, but I’m dyslexic, so that really wouldn’t help me at all.

Curzan’s piece of grammar said a few things that struck me. First she said that proper, Standard English is on a pedestal of no challenges that it has no right to be on. What does make people think that Standard English is the right way at all?  Discoveries and progress are only made when people experiment and challenge previously accepted ideas.

Secondly she said that even with a standard set of rules, different teachers enforce different rules. Pretty sure every student has had at least one English teacher contradict the writing rules of another, so we all know this is true. But how is this possible with a claimed “Standard English” that is supposed to be the written rule?

Third she mentioned this idea that teachers have that if students are allowed to challenge the rules of English grammar, we won’t bother learning the rules at all. I don’t know about you, but most of the time I learn a rule so as not to break it. However, when it comes to my stylistic choices of my creative writing, I tend to look at the rules, and go, “Oh, okay that’s the rule, yeah, no I’m good with breaking it.” Granted, I don’t do this for every rule, but if I followed proper “Standard English” in the book I’m writing the way I do in academic papers, all my characters would sound like badly programmed droids. They’re people, I’m going to let them talk the way actual people talk.

Artificial Intelligence

As someone who was a participant for a study on reading and comprehension levels in my state, I have to admit that Google has caused some problems in my college career. Google can be great and helpful when you’re on a time crunch or just need the paragraph overview. But like Carr speaks to in his article, it means we skim quickly and move on to the next link on the page.

I’m an English major, I have to do a lot of reading. So being assigned a book a week meant that I wasn’t truly reading and comprehending. I didn’t have the time or the focus to read and think about every line on the page. Instead I skimmed each chapter, got a summary of the plot and knew only three of the characters’ names. Maybe that’s just what has come out of college, but that’s not how I want to read.

When I was in 5th grade I was reading at the level of a high scoring SAT 11th grader. Now? I get restless when I try to enjoy a book. Let’s ignore textbooks, because those are a whole other monster with a whole other set of problems. I’ve noticed that since becoming dependent on online research, I have to jump from one thing to another. I pick up a book, read for a bit, go on my phone and check all my social media, then go back to reading. I can’t just sit and read for extended periods of time because I don’t remember what I read or I find myself skipping entire paragraphs just to move it along faster.

Carr also commented on how the thought process when typed out is different than if you write it down on paper. When I read that, I thought immediately of all the times people had asked me why I write on paper instead of typing up the book I’m writing. I’d never really thought about it, just shrugged it off with a, “oh, this is just easier for me.” But when I write out my story, I’ll end up with all sorts of crossed out lines and changed words because I tend to edit as I write. When I type, I lose all those revisions and new ideas. I can’t retrace my steps or my train of thought when I delete in a Word doc.

So call me old fashioned, but I’ll stick to my pen and paperbacks, thanks.

 

Overwhelmed

One of the three medieval rhetorical arts is identified in our book as preaching, which immediately brings to mind a crowd gathered in a church listening to a reading from the Bible. Then consider the Duomo, which we learned on our tour was the city’s central meeting area for business deals, dating, legal disputes, and politics. It probably wasn’t always this quiet, peaceful place of reverent conversation. I imagine children and dogs running about, laughing and music and probably arguing, and above all, bustle. People had other things to do besides sit and listen to a back and forth classical rhetorical debate.

Insert a speaker out front, or inside. They’re loud. They don’t have the time to give you the whole spiel before you hurry by them. So they craft short thoughts, any of which can catch your attention in passing. Even if it doesn’t immediately convince you of their point, it gets you thinking. You’ll probably find yourself absently wondering about whatever they said at random points during your day, and the thought will linger. Over time, you’ll accept it as the truth or the right way, because that’s what you heard first and you remember. We’ve established that this preaching is a rhetorical art.

But is it classical confrontational rhetoric? I think not. You didn’t give the rhetor a counterpoint or a contradiction. Instead they invited you to stay and listen if you wanted, then prompted you to come to your own conclusion. That is the art of feminist rhetoric, because it is in truth a manipulation the decision you’ll come to by planting that first seed in passing. Feminist rhetoric doesn’t have to be this long winded, tear jerking encounter. It’s about coaxing new thoughts out, encouraging older thoughts to grow, and offering a chance to use your own intelligence instead of being battered down by an often forceful argument. So I ask you, why do we cling to classical one choice is better than the other and convince everyone to our side when we could open opportunity for people to create new, insightful conclusions of their own that might not have even been considered? Why do we stick with one person’s logic when two minds with different experiences sounding an idea between them is better than one?