Tuesday, February 15, 2005

In Praise Of Plagiarism

The Educrats are worried. Plagiarism is on the rise, and not just on blogs. Personally, I've never seen the problem with it - I always looked upon plagiarism as condensed research. Besides, the educrats can't hardly complain, as even their own report admits:

If these students enter programmes where the 'rules of the game' are unclear, they might continue to use tried and tested approaches and thereby, inadvertently, plagiarise

Yes, indeed. Education is so mired in bureaucracy and sloth that plagiarism is the only logical answer. Take mark schemes, for example - lottery or what ? Instead of setting out an actual logical argument, students instead find themselves trying to guess exactly what it is about the English Civil War that Prof Smith thinks is important. Forget all that talk of learning to think independently, true success goes to those able to guess the contents of the examiner's check sheet.

Anyway, who's better equipped for life in the real world ? On the one hand, we have a guy dedicating hours to tracking down one specific report in a 1997 issue of Journal of Molecular Biology, on the other we have people setting up informal working groups amongst their peers, establishing relationships with students from previous years, outsourcing to subcontractors and the like, using a variety of communication strategies and technologies.

Doubtless, the traditionalists may claim students learn more from their time in the library, but is it stuff anyone needs ? I doubt even the average PhD student actually uses more than 10% of what they learned at undergrad level, but there'll always be a job for the man who can find a way to get to the pub quicker.

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