Academic honesty should never be ambiguous

Ok, I know I have a somewhat ambivalent stance on what constitutes plagiarism and the value of collaborative and cooperative learning but one thing I’m clear on is academic honesty.  If you used something that someone else made just say that you did that. And depending on your age and level a simple copy and paste of the link is sufficient.I recently went around our G5’s exhibition project and was thoroughly impressed at their work. I did sneakily ask a few for their sources and most could point to at least a page of attribution as to where they’d got their numbers and facts.  Well done (here is a great video of it by the way).

G5 Exhibition Video 2015 from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Fast forward to early this morning. I’m putting the washing in the machine and the kids are getting ready for school and finally my daughter lets me see the video she’s been working on for the last 4 days – one holidays and festivals in the middle ages. It’s a great video with her narrating the festivals of the year with lovely pictures and music from the middle ages in the background.  And then at the end “Thank you for watching” and black screen.

I told her I thought it was great, but that she didn’t have to thank anyone at the end, and instead a list of attribution for the images and music would be good. “Our teacher said we didn’t have to do it” was her reply. I told her that she knew that I expected it of her, and she then showed me that she had in fact made a list of the URLs but hadn’t put it into EasyBib to get into MLA format. I asked why not, and she came with some story about how citations / attribution hadn’t been in the original assignment nor in the rubric and the teacher didn’t want to add it on afterwards. I was a little annoyed at this. I said she could at least put it at the end of her video, but she didn’t think that would be “fair” on the others who didn’t. Fair? How about the fairness of the people to whom the images belonged? OK they’re all long dead now, and perhaps most of the images are in common domain, but still, it’s the principal.

I was annoyed at myself being annoyed at her, when actually I should be annoyed at the school. How can they go from being citation semi-stars in primary school to not having it expected at middle school. This is not the first instance, it is one of many, many, many in both my children’s grades across all subjects – academic honesty really does need to be institutionalised and inside every single assignment across the board! I’m at least glad my ranting has had an effect on my kids and they’re at now keeping lists to show me – but if it’s only for me for how long will my influence last?

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