When did it become appropriate to dismiss the view point of the educator, without any conversation with said educator, in favor of your child? This isn’t to say that all kids lie, or that teachers are infallible. But, when confronted with a situation where it is certainly more probable that the student is altering the truth to escape culpability, I am amazed at how many parents just blindly assume that the teacher is a tyrant who likes to punish children (that’s why we became teachers right?). Two instances are found in a paper that also appear word for word on a website.
Let’s stop and go back in time: Prior to this a group of kids were caught working collaboratively on a worksheet that clearly stated in its directions that it was to be done individually. You can read about that here (link will open in a new window). In response to this I dedicated a class period to talking about plagiarism, created a handout (see what it looks like here) that went into their binders, broke them into groups, divvied all the sections up and had them present to the class. It was repetitive (if it isn’t your idea or they aren’t your words you have to give credit to the person whose idea/words they belong to), but I thought the message got across.
Back to the present: I confronted the student (who was not part of the previously caught group) and gave half credit on the assignment and a phone call and an email (I don’t do well with phone calls, I become incoherent) explaining the situation. The student claimed that “I didn’t know”! I received an email from the parent saying that they believed that their child didn’t know and that the consequence was too harsh. Now I don’t really think that the student didn’t understand, this student is very bright, I think that they were upset about getting caught and as a result the incident became a larger one than it had to be.
Here is my worry: when my wife and I have kids. . . will I turn into that parent? Will I believe in the innocence of my little boy/girl far past when I should and is this really a bad thing? Will I ignore my rational mind and the facts? I don’t know, I can only learn from my experiences and try to apply that learning to my current experiences and those in the future.