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March 20, 2018


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I know you have been clear on the consequences with your students. Hopefully you can follow through! Teaching seems an awful lot like parenting.

I remember teaching a college freshman writing course, in which we covered this in lots of detail. And with one poor kid, I had to tell him again and again, on more than one draft -- and I felt like we weren't really getting through to each other. He wasn't trying to be dishonest; he seemed to really not get it.

And then, finally, sounding croggled and plaintive, he said, "But if I cite ALL that, it will look like none of this came from me," and I said, "AH-HA!"

And he said, "OHHHH."

And re-wrote it, with more of his own ideas, and everything else properly cited. =)

It was both a frustrating conversation, and a really really good teaching moment: it uncovered and addressed a fundamental change he needed to make in how he approached the paper, in order to grow in his thinking and writing. But it didn't happen until he "admitted" that there wasn't a lot of HIM in the paper...and he was realizing that citing things would highlight that. He didn't really WANT to be dishonest; he just didn't understand what he should be doing instead. It's not a collection of other people's ideas; it's your contribution to the conversation. And he'd simply never thought of it that way.

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