The American people and some of the rest of the world met Melania Trump in Cleveland. We are getting a first glimpse of a potential first lady and, by extension, her spouse. And who did we see? A plagiarist? Or a liar?
[Read below, or on Huffington Post]
The correct and inevitable guilty verdict in the sad case of the “Atlanta Cheating Scandal” is a reminder that the current system of high-stakes testing drives all participants in schooling to their wits’ ends—and beyond. Surely parents want the best for their children, teachers want the best for their students, administrators want the best for their schools, superintendents want the best for their districts. But when it all boils down to a few numbers, and the numbers can, carefully, surreptitiously, and illegally, be changed, it should not surprise us that the temptation to do so becomes irresistible, in some cases.
[image source: http://www.featurepics.com/FI/Thumb300/20110801/Cheating-Test-1956141.jpg]
There is a drama unfolding even as I write: thirty-five suspects have been indicted in a criminal conspiracy, and only a few of them have surrendered to authorities. They face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines. The deadline for all to give themselves up is today.
Is this about drugs? Kidnapping? Treason? Securities fraud?
Nothing so alien as that; it is an everyday criminal context: It’s about administrators and teachers changing answers on standardized tests in order to boost their schools’ and districts’ scores
I teach anthropology at Notre Dame. I have written a book about truth and deception. I have written a different book about college. As an anthropologist I am interested in not only what humans do but what we think about what we do. Humans are fascinating. I am glad to have a front-row seat to our species.
So I need to weigh in on the story of football player Manti Te’o and his fake dead girlfriend, as revealed last week by Deadspin.
But I can’t figure out what kind of story this is.
[Also on Huffington Post]
[Originally published in China Daily, November 9, 2012]
If the goal of scholarship is to get published, rather than to contribute in a meaningful and substantial way to the growth of knowledge, then any method is acceptable. Academic life is not usually so lucrative that people enter it to get wealthy. Usually people have some drive to know and learn.
Until this has been accomplished in China through a combination of structural and cultural changes, the fight against misconduct and corruption will remain with us.
We can keep calling for morality, but just as arguments to share the ball don’t make any sense in football, the stakes of the education game compel students and faculty and administrators to compete win in the perceived zero-sum game.
Also published in Huffington Post
You have probably heard that a teaching assistant grading final exams in a large Harvard class noticed suspicious similarities among the responses. That assistant notified authorities, and now a full-fledged investigation is underway—scrutinized by public attention. As someone who has studied college cheating and plagiarism, I find this case, like so many before and yet to come, provocative. Here are some of the things I wish to say about it.