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Cutting and Pasting from Father to Son

Or it could be status quo and this is simply the modern evolution of yesterday’s cheater.

I’ll never forget, years ago when I was a Cub Scout leader, at one of our Pack meetings we had a game at the end of the night called “The Peanut Race”. For anyone unfamiliar, all you have to do is hold a peanut in a spoon and run as fast as you can to the other side of the gym or playing field without dropping it from the spoon. (It’s a relay race, and someone else has to run back.) Anyway, I see over in the corner, one of the fathers “teaching” his son how to hold his thumb on the peanut so he can run as fast as possible without any danger of his peanut falling off. At a Cub Scout game for crying out loud!

Maybe the Internet has made the concept of share and share alike just part of culture.

I did this just today. There are so many sites offering free code and code snippets that they want you to take, I’m not surprised people actually do forget it might not be part of the class exercise to use pre-written code.

So should I just start lying to get ahead or what?

In seventh grade we had to write a poem. They posted everybody’s on the wall. I noticed this supposedly "smart’ kid copied his directly from a book I had. (Apparently the teacher was unfamiliar.) This guy has a pretty big job around my neck of the woods right now. Hmm.

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During my first week at university I sat with a group of new students in the coffee shop discussing our prospects on what looked to be a very tough three years ahead. It appeared obvious to us all that we were mediocre students and would be lucky to be successful at the end.

We decided right there to pool our strengths by forming a study group to help each other.

It worked very well. Some members were good at particular subjects, others took on responsibilities to become so early, and as we went through that stage they acted as leaders and coordinators. We collaborated unashamedely on assignments but tried to maintain some originality for those who wanted to display a little individualism.

We were open about this to our lecturers, tutors and assessors. Some were not very happy about it at first but we came to an understanding that we were there to learn, and the staff did not have a monopoly on teaching. There were some problems. I remember a few occasions where a wrong idea was promulgated to all of us by our “expert” and reflected in our bad assessments. Usually the final assessments for each subject made sufficient provision for a closed, supervised solo examination to rule out anyone who had not developed a sufficient unserstanding of the subject.

Over time, some members dropped out of our group and others begged to join. All of those who participated fully got through the course by a safe margin. We never regarded any of this as “cheating”. I think it is a better model for learning and for life than the academic service-provider/client model.

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