Writer’s Workshop: Something students these days should know

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My sister is a teacher. She used to be a scientist but she decided that she wants to make a real difference in young lives, and er, put her PhD to good use. When she first started, she taught Chemistry for a couple of years to 17-18 year olds, who were about to head off to university. Students who say they want to be engineers, doctors, scientists. Students, who presumably have studied the basics of Chemistry.
Well. It turns out, not everyone paid attention in high school. Many scraped by in Chemistry by the skin of their teeth. My sister struggled in her first 6 months, trying to wrap her mind around how she was going to help these kids get where they want to go. She set regular pop quizzes, planned fun experiments involving chocolates and candy (why didn’t I get her as a teacher in high school?), labored over assignments involving interesting essay topics. What it got her, was a lot of paperwork, a lot of moans and groans from her students and some very interesting essays turned in. 
Which brings me to this week’s Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompt that I chose: something students these days should know – thou shalt not plagiarize from Wikipedia and other sources on the Internet!
Back in the day when I was a student, writing an essay involved traipsing to the library, hunting for relevant books and other reading materials. Following that, one had to read the stuff, glean the necessary information, use that to write the essay, reference the sources accordingly and above all, do not use the author’s words as your own. Internet? Google? Wikipedia? All still stuff of the future (at least for me haha!). 
These days, you just open a browser, type in any word and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of websites featuring your key word. More often than not, Wikipedia tops the list.  My sister’s students used Google and Wikipedia a lot. To death in fact.

Referencing Wikipedia and other websites is in itself, not a problem. It’s the blatant plagiarism that is. It’s the fact that some students cut and paste entire paragraphs from some website and passed it as their own work. It’s the fact that sometimes, what they cut and paste HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SUBJECT. The best example of this is when one assignment asked that the students write an essay about the differences between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion (okay, I too, have no idea). This is how one student’s essay started:
Fusion Cafe and Resturant, now with venus in both Marsfield & Kogarah, presents dinner with a modern setting and professional, friendly service. Fusion Resturant serves the finest Modern Australian cuisine and offers a variety of flavors.

I know, right?? True story. Take note students. Your teachers DO READ your essays!

Photo credit: Keerati


P/S* My sister also wanted me to add that she wants students to know that teachers have a BS radar, that  teachers wouldn’t mind a little more love and she REALLY loves teaching! 


Alison

Alison

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