Saturday, October 10, 2015

Writing Your Own Words

Document Paper Pencil Clip Art

Who Writes What?

I've been away for a bit, partially because I had some surgery to take the metal out of my repaired broken hip bone. I'm doing just fine and have several good blog topics in mind.

The first has to do with recent posts on Facebook regarding companies offering essay writing services to students.  College and some high school students can order custom written essays on line to submit in their own names for credit in school courses.

I cringe at the thought. Having taught for over thirty-eight years as a high school English teacher, I saw my fair share of questionable essays. Except for perhaps one case I can remember, however, they were essays largely written by the students who turned them in. The biggest problem regarding legitimacy was plagiarism.  With the development of the Internet, this became more and more common as students would "lift" good portions of written material right off webpages and add them to their essays.

I had limited means of checking on this and can remember one search that took me on a long research journey before I finally found the source of one paper a student had written. In that case, he'd lifted pages word for word from an obscure source. I only followed the investigation because this particular paper was far better and more complex than anything the student had ever turned in before.

Now, schools invest in websites that will do the searching for teachers to seek out plagiarized passages.

The "write your essay for you" phenomenon is a whole other story. In this case, the papers written are original, especially written for students by master academic authors who are paid as much as twenty dollars a page. (Double spaced???)  These authors do all the research, analysis, and thinking involved in creating the essay while the student simply pays the bill at gets the finished product to turn in for class credit.

There are lots of excuses proponents of these services make for students.  Heavy course loads and the need to hold down a job to pay for school expenses are two often offered. Students claim that essays are really not relevant to learning course materials, so they claim they are irrelevant "busy work" of no value.

Both parties are wrong. Work loads and jobs are a part of life outside of school, so learning to juggle schedules to still get things done is a valuable, and often exhausting skill.  Taking the easy way out when in school...where life, limb, and financial security are not a consequence of failure.  School is the place to learn, in relative safety, how to cope with the stresses and challenges of the real world.  And writing essays, organizing thoughts, finding ways to explain topics, insights and analysis of ideas are all essential thinking skills incredibly valuable in solving problems in the real world. Thinking a problem through is the first step, but putting it down on paper so others can understand it as well, is the cement holding knowledge together.
Feather Pen Clip Art
What value will a college degree or a high school diploma have if the student who receives it has not met the challenges of school but rather has paid someone else to do the work?

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