I've heard this before -- there was a fairly well publicized
case a couple of years ago, of exactly this, as I remember:
> When one person's dossier started to sound familiar, one of my
> colleagues typed a phrase into google. He found the teaching
> dossier as a "sample" offered by a U.S. University as part its
> instructions on teaching dossiers. In all, we found four who
> had partially or largely plagiarized from such sources.
What struck me then, and seems even clearer now, reading Rob's
account, is that this is directly, immediately parallel to our
students in a way that the usual academic plagiarism for
publication isn't. The person who did this didn't accept the
validity of the demand for a dossier, thought dosssiers were all
BS anyway, assumed it was all a sort of perfunctory filling
requirements for some irrelevant outside authority, and didn't
think twice about it. I even remember, in the case I first
heard about, the perp saying something like, "well, my teaching
is just like everybody else's; why would I try to tart up some
clever way to say it myself? I believed what the person I took
it from was saying."
_Mutatis mutandis_, I think most of the students I've ever
encountering who weren't just totally ignorant of what
plagiarism _meant_ (and they're the overwhelming majority),
would have said just what that faculty member said, and what I
imagine the person Rob's talking about would have said.
(I just had a look to see if I could find the case I remembered,
and didn't -- but I did find the Waterloo "Guidelines for
Teaching Dossier" which has as its first item a link called
"Please read this information about Plagiarism before starting
your teaching dossier." (
http://www.trace.uwaterloo.ca/tacerteach.html ). Wow.
> I suppose this is just another instance of the "game" and taking the
> risk. The stakes were indeed high. We thoroughly checked the top 10
> contenders. Several disappeared from our consideration.
Yep, it's the game. Just like that term paper.
> I would have thought that those writers would have had plenty of
> exigence for their own ideas. Apparently not.
It seems pretty clear that they didn't think anybody was likely
to have an actual interest in their ideas about teaching -- just
as our students don't believe anyone has an actual interest in
their ideas about, well, whatever "topic" has been assigned.
St. Thomas University
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