Self-teaching through plagiarism

Copying bits from online essays is “self-teaching,” a British education official told the BBC.

One student told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme over 50% of classmates copied net material to boost their grades.

Dr Ellie Johnson Searle, director of the Joint Council for Qualifications, said small scale copying still showed an understanding of the subject.

But she said full plagiarism, without listing sources, was wrong.

. . . pupils who simply copied odd bits of internet essays and used them were not heavily punished, and in most cases would be asked to rewrite the coursework.

She told the programme: “Pupils can change the language and grammar and put it into their own words, but if they are going to that sort of effort they are essentially self-teaching and are learning the subject anyway.

In my day, students had to copy from books, which was far more laborious.

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  1. You know, if they had to write it out LONGHAND there’d be some learning involved. Cut’n’paste, however, also produces frequent grammatical howlers.

  2. My ninth-grade biology teacher would discipline students by assigning “outlines”. You had to reverse-engineer a chapter from the text, and deliver the outline.

    He was a really bad teacher, I was a lousy student, and I already knew a lot of the material (I had just switched schools). So I didn’t learn anything in that class, except the one time I got busted to do an outline. That’s how I learned what a virus is, and the knowledge stuck.

    It seems to me, the main disadvantage of learn-by-paraphrasing is, it’s dull. You might get the idea that knowledge is gained not by creative effort, but by perfunctory rote exercise.

    Better than nothing, though.

  3. So if I make up my own diploma by scanning one of theirs and putting my name in, does that mean I’m self-graduating?