Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Apologies to Charles Dickens for purloining one of the most famous novel openings ever written.

Well, another semester draws to a close. And, in general, that is a cause for celebration. Yes--it is early. I think this year the semester end is so early because Easter was really early. Our college combined spring break week and Easter break--thereby gaining a week of class instruction.

So, what's the best and the worst of this semester? Today, I had to deal with the worst--plagiarism. I absolutely hate plagiarism. I hate having to deal with it. But, I had a student who used three complete sentences from an external source without proper attribution and without using quotation marks noting that the words were not his own. When I handed back his paper with the offending section marked, he challenged me. I had printed off the original (which I found on the Internet) and showed him where he got the words. His defense--well, I cited a source. Yes, I said, but it's NOT the source where you got this section, and you failed to use quotation marks. He was adamant--he felt that since he gave SOMEONE credit, never mind erroneously, that he should not be dinged to plagiarism. HONESTLY. The worst.

Now, here's the best of times. It is spring on campus and the trees are blooming. The place positively sparkles.

See for yourself.

The last photo is of the newly constructed labyrinth, donated by student government. Isn't a labyrinth the most perfect visual metaphor for college? Here's a brief description of modern labyrinths and their uses. I like the idea of the contemplative aspect, which college students certainly need, combined with the seemingly endless journey. I have walked a labyrinth only once--it didn't do as much for me as I expected. But I still like the visual impact.


ncmountainwoman said...

Our neighbor teaches at a community college. One of his students proudly turned in his first paper. ALL of his sources were cited as "google.com"

I tried the labyrinth thing for contemplation with much the same result. I think it's like relaxation techniques, requiring a lot of practice and some determination. But it surely is lovely.

Ginger said...

Ugh about the plagiarism. I hate situations like that, too. They try so hard to save face, and in the end it feels like a lose-lose event. One of our faculty was talking yesterday about honor systems for integrity. I'm squinty-eyed that it would actually work. I think he's idealistic and unrealistic. But I'm curious what you think.

JeanMac said...

Beautiful design!

Mary said...

Your campus is stunning - much more eye pleasing than mine. It's good you work in a beautiful place for the relief it offers after a confrontation with a student on a serious issue.

dguzman said...

Kat has to deal with that all the time, and it's so exhausting for her. Too many kids just respond with, "so what's the big deal?" Ugh.

I don't envy you, but I do admire you--and all teachers.

Mary C said...

Hi Donna, I'm sure you're glad the semester is about over. I'm glad to see you posted your flowering spring beauties in this post, too. Hopefully, the natural beauty that surrounds you there on campus makes up for all the grief you have to deal with in the classroom. That definitely is a beautiful looking campus.

Mauigirl said...

Beautiful campus pictures! I love this time of year.