It is amazing how people are different.  Is it a time thing, a locale thing, a parent thing?

I am sitting here thinking about the three chapters of my thesis due Tuesday and how I am never going to finish.  I am thinking of all the possible ways to finish (Much Mt. Dew and a full weekend of all-nighter writing? Turning in half the pages and hoping for the best?  Inventing a time machine and a non-procrastinator machine?).  And, it occurred to me, that though I have 8 billion things to do, all of which have deadlines, it has not even momentarily occurred to me to plagiarize.

Of course, the only reason it even occurred to me sitting here is because I confronted one of my plagiarizers today.  As I suspected, she claimed she did not understand what she did wrong.  She said she cited.  I pointed out she didn’t use these things called quotation marks.  Also, there were paragraphs where there was plenty of plagiarism and NO citing.  She still claimed ignorance, but accepted the grade and that she wasn’t going to put a fast one on me.  We talked and will discuss some options to possibly get her to not fail the class.  I don’t want her to fail the whole class for one mistake–even if it’s a huge mistake that I talked with the whole class about multiple times.

Never, in my many years of schooling did plagiarism occur to me as an option (or as a confusion).  Not to say I NEVER accidentally plagiarized a line or two.  I’m willing to be my paraprasing wasn’t always perfect–but it was never on purpose and never more than a few lines.

Perhaps it was my confidence as a writer.  I did feel it was my one scholastic achievement, and it never occurred to me to let someone else do the work when I could do it and get an A.  But, that isn’t it–because my procrastinator tendencies have gotten me into way too much trouble to really have my abilities be the thing keeping me from it.

Perhaps it was the way I was raised.  The difference between right and wrong was always emphasized in our house.  Not in terms of religion or even laws, but in terms of how we act, what we should do as good, decent people–and this was taught by example.  My parents did the best they could.  The easy road was rarely proposed and rarely taken.  My Dad called gambling “ill-gotten gains” and, though not morally opposed, rarely participated.  He wanted to do his own work and be rewarded for that, not have something fall into his lap.  It wasn’t that we were preached at to be “good”–we were shown how by my parents and grandparents.  And so, just like smoking and drinking never appealed to me, stealing and cheating never appealed to me either.

In the end, I actually feel sorry for my students who take the easy way out.  Who see cheating and plagiarizing as a way to “get through.”  Who see it as no big deal and something that has to be done because they’ve got too much else to do.  These students who feel they’re owed something, who feel their education is a waste.  Because, in the end they really are harming themselves.  The hard part, though, is that while they’re hurting themselves, they’re hurting their whole generation.

And so, I try to focus on the ones that amaze me.  The ones that come to school with a positive attitude.  The ones that do their work to the best of their ability while balancing extra curriculars and social status.  The ones that don’t just “want” an A, but work for it.  The people I know I will see running the world in a few decades.  There aren’t many, but there are some and I think I need to learn, as a teacher, to show my appreciation to these students and to realize all is not lost for our future.

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