Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cheating & Plagiarism: Rational? Often So! Immoral? Maybe not.

"The rational incentives to cheat for college students have grown dramatically, even as the strength of character needed to resist those temptations has weakened somewhat,"
--.David Callahan, author of "The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead" (Harcourt, 2004)

Holy Hypocrites, Batman! Who with any knowledge of history can delude themselves believing that strength of character in this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave has weakened somewhat over the years since our Founding Fathers ….blah, blah, etc.

Strength of character, if it means doing what is morally right at the cost of ignoring what is expedient, has always been rare. The extirpation of Indian nations, slavery and Jim Crow proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I’m not sure what it is in the education of teachers that develops such strong feelings against cheating and plagiarism since:
a. so many of them did it themselves in college*; and
b. they have been for so long blind to bullying, both physical and mental; and
c. they go along with the stupidest “educational innovations” with seldom a peep of protest; and
d. they set up or support the “rational incentives” that present their own students with the choice of either being stupid or being “of low character.”
It was Aristotle, I believe, who suggested that justice for a group was achieved when the ends of the group and the ends of the individuals in it were compatible.

Justice is rare, especially in schools.

To examine these issues further, see Conjecture Pollution: Poisoning Educational Practice

--- EGR
* On the other hand, the low college GPA for education majors may indicate that, compared to the rest of the student body, they are less likely to cheat. Whether this is from fear of being caught, or "strength of character," I don't know.