[lit-ideas] Re: lit-ideas The Shadow Scholar

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 10:48:40 -0800

On Nov 16, 2010, at 7:26 AM, John Wager wrote:

> 1.  There are quite a few reactions on "Slashdot" to this story. You can 
> follow them here:
> http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/ZrcuFv28xwI/story01.htm

Several hundred!  I like the tales of Feynman doing a student's exam, and the 
fellow who had a grad student stand on a piece of paper, because for me the 
whole fuss misses the point.  There are cheats in sports too.  They win this or 
that match or game.  They may even become rich as a consequence of cheating.  
Good luck to them..if that's how they want to live...it takes all sorts to make 
the world.

Yesterday in class I could see one or two students wondering how they might 
cheat.  I gave up tests and quizzes long ago.  To me it matters very little 
that someone can remember when this or that event happened, or what the three 
causes of the First World War might be.  Each week my students (all upper 
division) write an analysis of what they have read.  They know they may be 
asked to read this aloud in class.  If someone says, "I haven't got any 
writing," I say, "Fair enough, but remember that you have to produce a 
substantial paper at the end of the semester, which is based on this writing.  
If you let too many weeks pass, that task will be harder.  It's far easier to 
reduce thirty pages of writing to fifteen good ones, than it is to write 
fifteen good pages on a short deadline."  Good students figure out this system. 
 Yesterday it suddenly dawned on those few who are still adrift that they will 
have to come up with a substantial paper in three weeks and that it will have 
to reflect in-class discussions, on which they have taken no notes, readings 
they haven't done, and conclusions they haven't yet reached.  Tough spot to be 
in.  I'm anticipating complaints to the dean that I "haven't been clear," or 
negotiating tactics of that ilk. 

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

Other related posts: