[One of the sad phenomena that I have observed as a college teacher for more than 4 decades is that cheating has now become almost standard operating procedure for our present generation of students — as the report below from the Columbia Spectator intimates. In my days student cheating was rare. We had been taught that cheating was wrong because it was unfair. In one school we were each obliged to write “pledge” on papers or exams indicating that we “pledged that we had neither given nor received help in doing X.”

This is not at all to say that the present generation of students is somehow evil or morally degenerate in comparison with my own. Rather students are constantly presented with lying and cheating on the part of even the highest authorities in our nation, e.g. the Iraq war planned out by the neocons at least as early at 1996 and then launched post 9/11 under false pretenses.

My students do not want to cheat. But they have been persuaded that cheating is wide-spread so that they have to cheat in order to compete. We talked of this in each of my classes over the years and I was able to persuade virtually all of my students that learning was what we were about and that cheating was totally unnecessary. I focused work on critical research papers — far longer than most being required by other courses and teachers who were in effect cheating them from learning this essential skill (all those harassed, underpaid, over worked part-timers themselves being cheated by our greedy system) and always carefully explained the details of citing sources rather than stealing ideas from others. Far too many have been plagiarizing from sources or buying papers on the open market.

We Americans are increasingly demoralizing our college students. We have persuaded nearly all of them that they are powerless in the face of mysterious powers determining events beyond their control. In Israel students this past month have been on strike against proposed tuition increases. In the U.S. our students have just learned that far too many college administrators, alumni groups, and corrupt financial institutions have been making out big time by sticking them with heavy loans that curb both advanced studies and getting started in life in any but a high paying job to get the burden of those loans off their backs.

I am now entering retirement and yet still literally counseling my students and referring them to lawyers for bankruptcy possibilities to free them from bill collector vultures haunting their lives and blocking even the most basic decisions such as renting an apartment.

It is sad to see my neighborhood university which trained me in graduate philosophy also facing this same problem, but that’s the way things are now in Amerika! Ed Kent]

BREAKING NEWS: College to Offer Second Lit Hum Exam
by Erin Durkin

Following a leak of the contents of this year’s Literature Humanities final exam, students in the course will have to choose between retaking the test and discounting the final from their grade, administrators announced Tuesday.

http://www.columbiaspectator.com/?reffeature=textbreakingnewsedition

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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