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Friday, August 31, 2012

Our Best and Our Brightest

Posted by on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 9:16 AM

To the best of my recollection, I never cheated in college. Partially because the seminars I mostly took rarely had exams, and, well, how do you cheat on a paper? (Plagiarism, I suppose, but I've always been filled with too many words to bother stealing from others.) And partially because after a disastrous second semester sophomore year, I vowed never to care about grades again. (Also, only take classes I like, and never take a class that starts before 11 am.)

But I guess I'm also just basically honest.

Still, I have some empathy for the 125 Harvard underclassmen suspected of cheating on an Introduction to Congress exam. I mean, if there's anything we've learned from Congress and its corporate patrons, it's that cheaters prosper. Indeed, we honor them. If anything, these Harvard students—our best and our brightest—learned their lesson too well.

As the Wall Street excesses and subsequent bailouts demonstrated, America is above all a nation of cheaters. So how can we blame our nation's future elite for following the example set by the current?


Comments (7) RSS

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The thing that bugs me enormously about this scandal is that Harvard has several times (I think) turned a blind or at least extremely lenient eye toward plagiarism among their faculty.

See… for some details.
Posted by Ancient Sumerian on August 31, 2012 at 9:41 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 3
Won't that make for the most expensive non-education money can buy?
Posted by Pope Peabrain on August 31, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
A brilliant future awaits them!
Posted by LMcGuff on August 31, 2012 at 10:21 AM · Report this
But America is also, above all else, a nation of hypocrites. We're so conflicted...
Posted by Jonathank5 on August 31, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
Oh lord, it was a take-home final and the prof expected them NOT to talk to each other about it? That's ridiculous. If you don't want students to talk to each other, then make them do it in the classroom like a normal exam. Harvard is acting all surprised like every angel of a student goes home with their take-home exams and locks themselves in their room and doesn't emerge until it's complete.
Posted by KayElle on August 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this
Doesn't surprise me. People openly cheat on the test to get food handler's cards, and they make you go through a "class" where they hold your hand through all the answers beforehand.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on August 31, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
My experience teaching undergrads is that when half the class fucks up, there is usually something wrong with the exam or with course communication. I'm not so quick therefore to assume all these kids knowingly cheated. Was the policy on non discussion made crystal clear? How did TAs communicate with students during the exam time? What other resources were allowed? Could the exam be completed in the allotted time with the permitted resources? I bet you there is more to the story than simple cheating.
Posted by wxPDX on August 31, 2012 at 2:41 PM · Report this

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