Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The More Things Change...

Harvard University, the self-proclaimed bastion of the intelligentsia, has found itself in the midst of a scandal. This case is not about an individual cheating two others of their profits from the creation of a social media site (that would soon soar, then tank); it concerns cheating of, some would say, the most nefarious kind: academic dishonesty. In what is purported to be the most significant case of possible cheating, the results of more than 250 students taking the final test for a spring-semester government course have been probed after one professor seemed to find alarming consistencies in the answer of about half of those students (God forbid everyone should answer the same questions correctly!).
Harvard students cheat? "inconceivable," as the protagonist in The Princess Bride might say. These are our best and brightest, headed for the corner offices of major corporations or to the hallowed halls of Washington, D.C. Such an act of deceit would be far below the blue-blooded students ensconced within the ivy walls of Cambridge.
I work with college students all the time, and despite my best efforts, collaboration DOES take place. Of course, it doesn't help that professors are putting more and more exams online where there is no direct supervision of the test taker. Mind you, this movement is probably as much for the professor's benefit as it is the students'.
However, in this case, I think any student who sought outside help had to be an absolute doofus since the instructions for the test indicated that it was an "open book, open note and open internet" test. The only real restriction was that students were not to "collaborate with fellow students or writing tutors, or tutors of any kind." So, this strikes me as the ultimate in laziness. With all the "free" help in addition to the copious notes each student has supposedly taken when attending lectures, this exam should be a no-brainer.
I'm sure those apprehended will discuss the pressure cooker that is academia at Harvard, and, if one is to believe what one has seen in Legally Blonde, maybe there is undue pressure. I know grade inflation has become a hot button issue at many universities, and may well be the case here as well. the risk of facing a one-year suspension from the university, students from noble backgrounds would hardly be suspect.
On the other hand, when our elected officials make statements then, when confronted with the bald-faced untruth of what they had just said have the cojones to say, "That wasn't meant to be a factual statement," or "Women's bodies have a way of stopping those things from happening," perhaps these students are just getting a head start on their public careers.
I can hardly wait to see who gets the blame for this.


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