Substandard American Students Just Go Ahead and Cheat Their Way Through College

If you will cheat at one thing, you will cheat at another.

I remember well when I returned to college in my late 30s to get a second Bachelor’s degree, with the goal of changing careers. It had occurred to me that it was a great idea to take what I was good at and combine it with what was marketable if I were going to increase my dollar worth in the marketplace. While I was taking my courses, I was approached a number of times by students who were willing to pay me to write papers for them, along with several other assignment tasks. My life as a teacher was enough to guarantee I would say no–and not very politely either. To me, this kind of activity was an indicator that the student couldn’t cut it and had no business being in college at all. Then there was the terrible realization that  such a person had no integrity whatsoever. A cheater is simply the bottom of the barrel just about everywhere in the real world, they can’t be trusted and they have no moral compass. Yet, here I was seeing Cheaters-In-Training in an institution of supposedly higher learning. Still, I wasn’t surprised.

To be really honest, I was initially shocked at the quality of students who sat in classes with me. There were the Very Bright. And then there were the Dumbos.  I mean to tell you that there were some very stupid people sitting right there in a college class, collecting more dust than knowledge. I was doubly horrified because these were classes related to a technical degree, which I miscalculated would be more difficult than my original Liberal Arts degree. It simply wasn’t the case. Not by a long shot. Every class was graded on a curve, and there was a certain amount of pleasure associated with walking into a class on the first day and hearing groans, because the curve was about to be blown. Frankly, I was almost bewildered at how much easier Bachelor’s Degree work had become compared to my first time around. Something had changed.

I remember befriending a student from China, who told me that Japanese and Chinese students often came to America for college as a kind of vacation. She told me that she learned far more in her High School than they were teaching her here in a number of her courses.  She marveled at the “core” courses in subjects such as Composition, and how little was really expected of the student. To her, this was High School material.

Either I was smarter than I thought, or I was witnessing the dumbing-down of college, just as I, as a teacher, could already see how High School Curricula were being dumbed-down by degrees as well. As further testimony that things have gotten even worse and just about anybody can get into plenty of colleges in America,  CNN found more than 250 websites that offer to write papers for a price. In other words, as I write this, “Millions” of American students are cheating their way through college — and they no longer have to look very far to find someone who will say “Yes” to writing their papers for them.

Outsourcing is a dirty little word among many Americans. When companies use cheap labor overseas to make products or perform services it often means those jobs are lost in the United States.

Next up on the outsourcing list? Take a deep breath and read on. America is outsourcing its brains.

According to the Center for Academic Integrity, in the last school year nearly a third of the faculty at its 360 college and high school member institutions reported students downloading term papers, reports or essays written by someone else from online sites known as paper mills.

And guess who’s writing their papers for them? Here is a breakdown of the locations of  Writers For Hire:

* Pakistan 28.8%
* India 27.3%
* USA 20.9%
* Philippines 6.5%
* Ukraine 4.2%
* Indonesia 1.8%

Funny, but I seem to remember a time when these countries would have looked to Americans for brainpower, not the other way around.

These college cheaters are the same people who will cheat their way through the workplace. They will cheat their way through life.  Ironically, some of these cheaters are also the same people who troll blogs on the net and brag about how “educated” they are compared to everybody else, as if their degree is some ticket to the Finish Line Trophy instead of nothing more than an opportunity to enter the race.

Not one of these college cheaters who employs these websites would have been accepted into or made it through most 4-year colleges in the 70s without the more stringent achievement level and the difficult SAT score requirements. For sure, graduate school would not have been on the horizon. It may have been a wild hippy-assed time, but plenty of people who couldn’t cut it flunked out of college too.  That’s what you did when you couldn’t handle the work or the stress. You flunked out. If you got caught like the people in the photo above left, you were helped out the door.

Today, the idea is EVERYONE should go to college.  So what else do you do but dumb enough schools down to ensure they all make it to graduation with that stellar GPA? This is why the joke in the workplace is that some of today’s BS or BA degrees have become equivalent to a High School Education of several decades ago. That’s what happens when you let EVERYBODY into college, whether they have the academic aptitude or not. When everybody has that sheepskin, it’s not such a valuable commodity any longer–and those who cannot cut it academically will cheat their way to graduation. So, while I am sure there were some cheaters out there in my day,  we have now embarked on the creation of a new breed of students who see cheating as a way of life. CNN reports that “Millions of students are outsourcing their brains” such that it has now become a cottage industry for ghost writers–and some of those ghost writers are living in third world countries! What does that say about the potential of our own people?

The worst part of all of this is nobody is bothering to learn valuable skills that guarantee jobs that will pay far more money than that pissant job an overly common B.A. degree will get them. I can assure you that electricians and plumbers make far more money than somebody who works as a social worker. Not all brains are academic brains. Have you ever seen the brilliant work of a finish carpenter, the true experts in geometry?  It’s jaw-dropping, and most of us instinctively know we couldn’t achieve that kind of result if our lives depended upon it. So who’s smart again?

Not all smarts come from books and we as parents have done a horrible injustice to our children by imagining otherwise. Many chefs will also make more money than that young person with the B.A in Politics will ever earn. It’s not just about sticking your nose in a book. In the Real World, it’s also about talent, flexibility, adaptability, dealing with stress, getting the job done, and thinking on your feet! I’m also here to tell you that the two very richest people I know never even walked by a college. College does not make you automatically smart. You need to be smart and have some potential before you get there, and your potential had best be in a useful field.  College also does not make you All Knowing. In fact,  any successful person will tell you that you don’t know shit till you get into the Real World and have to achieve. Ten years after graduation, nobody even cares where you went to college. What they do care about is what you have achieved, preferably without cheating.  This will become even more apparent in the future since college degrees are officially a dime a dozen now. The truth is, you can only cheat your way through life so far, and eventually you are forced to either achieve or hit the road.  Plenty of students may have scammed the system now, but in the Real World, they will find out exactly how valuable they aren’t. Knowledge is power. Fake knowledge is pretty much nothing.

So, exactly what are we doing for our children when we automatically assume every one of our kids is a potential brain surgeon (even though their teachers are rolling their eyes)? We turn them into cheaters, that’s what we do for them. I will hunt for the link, but I read awhile back that something like 67% of all students in America think cheating is an okay thing to do and more than 80% of college students score high on the Narcissist Scale. They are accustomed to receiving a trophy just for showing up. They exit college thinking that companies didn’t run before they got there. What a letdown this has to be for them in the workforce of the Real World–especially in today’s economy.

So much for the good news about America’s future leaders. In the meantime, we can’t find a good plumber.

CNN Video: “Millions of students are outsourcing their brains”

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101 Responses

  1. “So, exactly what are we doing for our children when we automatically assume every one of our kids is a potential brain surgeon (even though their teachers are rolling their eyes)? We turn them into cheaters, that’s what we do for them.”

    And then, they can run for POTUS!

    I’m currently taking some Anthropology courses (just for the fun of it), but like you, am amazed at the openness and ease with which some of the students cheat.

    I’ve tried to imagine if I would feel differently were I in my late teens/early twenties, and have to say that I don’t think I would be attending a university at all. After all, where are the jobs?

    In that case, I’d go to a trade school, or try to develop a marketable skill set. Like plumbing. (let me know if you find a good one. Kitchen faucet is getting weird again…)

  2. Anthony let me tell you, I found a great young plumber a few years ago and I treat him like gold. In addition to being a very smart guy, he is an ace plumber. The guy has so much work he can’t even keep up, but he always runs when I call him. I mean I even feed the guy. I am no fool. I treat hm like a son, and last week he brought me some nice steelhead trout he caught besides. I got him a lot of work because my friends were all in the same boat. Where the hell are the plumbers?????

  3. Like you said, these same kids are going to be in our workforce, and probably be the boss of people who didn’t cheat their way through school. I’d absolutely kill my son if I found out he was cheating in school. I’d immediately stop paying for his tuition and tell him to do it on his own. I don’t worry too much about him, though…that kid would be so stressed out if he cheated and the guilt would kill him. In his freshman year he overslept and missed his first class and felt so bad that he called me up to tell me and said that he promised he’d never do it again. Hell, he could have just kept his mouth shut and I’d never have known.

    It’s sad to think how far our school system has deteriorated in such a short time.

  4. Awhile back…probably about 2 years ago I read something similar MS UW. That US students level of education have deteriorated, espacially in Maths & Science. American student fell far behind other “developed” countries.

    There was a joke among us Asians in the early 2000’s that most americans didn’t even know where Afganistan or Iraq were. My apology if I sounded kinda “look-down upon american students”, But we did know it was for a fact…the downward spiral of your education qualities has been going on for quite many years now.

    Also it’s kinda sad for me, as I have looked up to your kind of education for better quality of life. These days? Not so much I am afraid.

    Still, the 80’s and 90’s were the best times…the time to learn Business Admin from American Universities. We never needed no one else to write our papers / thesis…just our hard works thru thousands of hours in researches / workshops…no downloads then…only read books, books and more books. Libraries were like second home. Group studies were treated like “severe problem discussions” and we did compared notes alot…and shared ideas and opinions with the help of many professors. And each Case Study treated seriously…not plagerising.

    As difficult as it was, I have enjoyed my time in 2 colleges. And like you MS UW, I had gone back to college, a decade later since the first degree to “update” myself. Only at that time, I was the only “matured” student who went to work during the day, attended classes/lectures at night. Yeah I had both tough times and the best times of my life. The young ones around me thought I was too conservative, and tried my level best to be “liberal” in my ways around them. Twenty years on now, they said they understood why I always told them “Never take the easy way out”. That’s because they learned life in the real ain’t always like what’s taught in theories or classroom.

    Sometimes, I would’ve lunches with some old college mates…and told them: Never stop learning till the day you die!

    And that’s the problem with youngsters today. They’re lazy when it comes to “learning”. And parents are part of the problem. Students get after school tuitions. I never heard of Tuitions during my schooling days. We have lots of homeworks though.

    Oh dear, am I ranting again?

  5. joey, Aunt Uppity always loves your rants!

    Let’s face it, sister, the Asians have it all over us when it comes to the grey matter. It’s no secret.

  6. Ugh….what country are Asians from?

    (heh)

  7. UW, I’ll bet your classmates freaked every test that you took with them. The curve must have gone straight to the toilet.

    I have several family members who still work in public education, and they themselves are witness to the continuous lowering of standards.

    I stopped asking for papers because I could easily find the source which was copied. I hate regurgitation of details without thought imput. I finally forced oral reports before a peer panel on those that insisted on an extra credit paper. I can honestly state that this forced a change in my student’s behavior. Fewer requests for that extra paper and much more dissemination of material for discussion. Rough, but fair.

  8. I worked with a pharmacist from Taiwan in the 70’s. He said that it all begins with the attitude toward education. The guy was brilliant and he said he was not acceptable material for university. Same in China. He used to laugh at how easy it was for him to earn his degrees in the US. Education in the east is revered and to many unattainable.

  9. I had to drop out of college the first time when my Dad got sick. It was something I always regretted. I had the chance to go back in 1990 at the age of 40. I carried a full load and had a work study job in the Science Dept. I typed all the exams for the profs. except 1.

    A week didn’t go by without being approached by a student and the amount of money they offered for a copy of a test was unbelievable. Even though I was poor, I turned every one of them in. I valued my job and wanted to earn my degree. I wasn’t about to throw away my second chance on a bunch of kids to lazy to study.

    Once they discovered I graded the exams too, they’d approach me to change their grades. I couldn’t believe they’d do something that stupid. Even when word spread that I’d turn them in and they’d get booted out of school, they’d still approach me. How dumb can you get?

    It didn’t take me long to realize they hated all the older students in class. We’d study and ace our exams and throw the grading curve out the window. By the time I graduated I began to realize this country was in a world of hurt if these kids were our future. God help us!

  10. FF, you got my address. So you should know where I am.

    And Asians is not a country!!!!!!!! Asians = people of Asia. ASIA is a continent. Dang I could shout in frustration. LOL

    BTW, sealions disappears from SF Bay? What with that? Earthquake warning?

  11. Connie, thank you for confirming what I saw. Unfortunately, it’s the truth.

  12. LOL McNorman, they groaned on the first day of classes if they knew me. I blew their curve. Believe me it wasn’t hard to do considering what showed up.

  13. OT

    NASDAQ evacuated because a vehicle (van) parked in Times Square

    boimb squad there and have expanded the perimeter

    Level 1 Threat

  14. Uppity: I had a number of classes where the parents would show up and complain about how the older students were blowing the grades of their little darlings. They thought we should get docked on our test scores to level the playing field. The kids never thought about how we had to study harder and longer because we’d been out of the school system for such a long time.

    I had one class with a 78 year young lady who went back to college “just for the hell of it”. She’d get a big kick out of doing better than the young ones. We’d study together when we had a chance and she was something else. I hope I can be like her when I get to that age.

  15. JOEY! I WAS KIDDING!

    and as for Sea Lions, you could be right

    wouldnt that be great

    San Fran quake AND Terrorists.

    Obama will have to extend his vacation.

  16. Mcn: “Education in the east is revered and to many unattainable”

    How so true that saying is. Unattainable? Not only to many, but MANY billions, even now. Dang, more than half of Asian countries are made of poor people.How could everyone afford it. I was lucky that I grew up in convent schools. Didn’t appreciate it much when I was still young, but the disciplines got me through as an orphan.

    Revered? Not so much these days. American Students set the trend “cheat”. More and more asian students follow this dumb act. Maybe not as brave as some of your students though. There are still cheaters. Today, degrees can be bought by the rich for their children…from anywhere in the world.

    And still deep in mind, I wish for USA to be role model when it comes to education, especially of the highest standard.

  17. Oh, how I relate to this. When I went back to school to get my Masters degree in Multicultural Education I was shocked by two things:

    1. There were no grading standards in my Masters program. I actually loved the courses and professors but if you went to class you were pretty much guaranteed an A.

    2. The quality of the undergraduate student body was appalling, just as you described. I took a couple undergraduate courses and in both classes the attitude was the same. They didn’t want to study or do any homework that wasn’t simply rote. They didn’t want to read any long passages outside of class. They expected the teachers to make class “fun” as in educational learning games, group activities (that inevitably become chatting sessions about personal lives) etc. i.e. the basic contemporary approach to education in k – 12 classrooms. The thought of actually PAYING ATTENTION to a lecture based on assigned reading or practice exercises was bewildering to them.

    You are correct. Less young people should be attending colleges and universities! We love to look toward Europe as being more culturally advanced than we are and they certainly don’t let every doofus enter college in their neck of the woods. Why aren’t we doing the same? Is it our sense of egalitarianism? Or is it that colleges have become such plentiful businesses?

  18. One more thing…

    In graduate school no one ever offered me cash for a paper. But perhaps that’s because I only took two undergraduate courses.

    BUT… one of my roommates in college was caught going through my garbage (with another student) and piecing together some of the papers I had written!

  19. LOL Allison, that room mate…….now there’s a friend you want for life. LOL.

  20. Uppity: I had a number of classes where the parents would show up and complain about how the older students were blowing the grades of their little darlings.

    OMG I’m cracking UP here! Can you imagine? Those kids belonged in NURSERY school not college.

  21. Hey Connie, I saw a parent show up at a WORKPLACE one time. I mean, the whole place was ROFL! Needless to say, he didn’t last long.

  22. If I knew then what I know now, I would have:

    1. Still gone to college, because learning is intrinsically good, but

    2. Gotten a job as a mailman after graduating (great benefits, retire at 55 on full pension etc, etc.).

    Ironically, I work as a pension consultant but I have no pension plan. Alas…

    -MS

  23. Alison, i found grad school to be a different environment. People were less apt to be partying it up and more apt to be buckling down. But then most of them were paying for their classes and working at the same time, which of course makes a huge difference.

  24. It’s okay ParkSlopeVoter, you aren’t the only one out there.

  25. Little Bill has the bestest hat! One pengy ran out of champagne. The other pengies are dancing drunk with more champagne. Little Bill doesn’t want any champagne. MKB? Dang is he sobber yet? Drunkard MKB!!!!!!!!!! stop hanging on to that champagne empty champagne bottle. Ya catnipper cat!!!

  26. Yes! Lil’ Bill does have a nice hat on! As for MKB, imustdiagree with you Joey, Bill seems more alert than I’ve seen him in a long time! Maybe fatherhood has had a positive affect on him.

  27. If that’s OK what the hell is so wrong with my “diplomas” I printed out from Harvard and Yale?

  28. I too went to college- in my mid 30″s. Man oh man- those kids HATED me! It was sad really- by the second semester one professor was excluding my grades from the curve- too many kids complaining they had to compete against me. Mind you, I was raising three kids, keeping up my home, volunteering, working part time and still managing a 4.0 What were they doing? Well the smart ones were asking me to form study groups- the dummies were trying to pay me to write their papers.
    I was reminiscing with Sis and Hubbie- remembering when our junior high was split into “divisions” smart kids took classes with their peers and nobody dumbed down the classes so the less stellar students wouldn’t develop self-esteem issues. By the time we got to junior high, it was fairly clear who was college material, who was a trades type etc. Our parents certainly saw nothing wrong with that system and the education was much more rigorous. No picking classes for us- except which language you took. English, all 4 years of high school, math, 4 if you were college bound, same with science, minimum 3 History PLUS civics (please bring back civics!) and three years of a language- course Latin was still required in those days to get into a good college. Electives? Pick between glee club, band, home-ec or shop.
    Mind you- even with the divisions, every single person with whom I went to school could read and do basic arithmetic! If you couldn’t do the work- you did not get promoted!

  29. I was reminiscing with Sis and Hubbie- remembering when our junior high was split into “divisions” smart kids took classes with their peers and nobody dumbed down the classes so the less stellar students wouldn’t develop self-esteem issues. By the time we got to junior high, it was fairly clear who was college material

    That’s the way it was when I was in school too! You didn’t hold back outstanding people for people who were just biding their time. You didn’t worry about who felt bad you just created the right environment for those who excelled. There were General classes for the general population and if you excelled in a subject, you went to advanced placement class. There were trade classes for those who were best suited for that as well. What the hell was wrong with that?

    I remember when I was teaching, I had the most wonderful boy in my class who was a real ace at fixing cars. He would take the keys to my car and tune it up and he changed the oil in the shop twice a year. He was excellent. He was not very good in academic classes though. One day he came to me and wanted to talk about how he had a job as a mechanic part time but his work was getting in the way of school. I told him that school was getting in the way or work, and he was so happy to hear what he needed to hear. He didn’t quit school of course, but he stopped beating himself up about not being an A student. When he graduated, he was my mechanic for years and other teachers used him as their mechanic too. He was happy in his talent and he was a damned good mechanic. Incidentally, his first job as a full time mechanic paid him more than I was making as a teacher. So come on. What the hell is going on here now?

  30. Thank the administrations of universities too. I know of a PA State U dean who sent emails to his 60+ liberal arts profs telling them he would prefer they not giving students “incompletes”. D’s were also frowned upon. One prof who failed a student for showing up to his class less than 50% of the time was fired, after being degraded in front of students for doing so.

    Why? the 2 “r’s that bring in the $$: recruitment and retention. Get the students in with great athletic facilities and food courts; keep them in by coddling them.

    Then look to the accrediting organizations. The last time I saw one whip through a university they were quickly chauffered through the various departments, inaccessible to the profs, all of whom had nightmare stories they wanted to “share”. The desperation of instructors wanting to inform the accreditation committee was typical, I was told on the phone by an organization employee. Alas, every accredited member (university) pays “annual dues” to the organization, so it’s in the interest of the accrediting body to bestow their seal of approval as often as possible.

  31. I know several professors and agree with everything that has been said.

  32. Oh Gawd, I remember when I was in college the first time-right after high school-we had freshman composition, two semesters of it. The biggie was you had to write a research paper and you submitted your suggestion on the paper to the instructor for approval. You also had to follow the MLA style guide for your paper. (Does that even exist anymore?)

    But back then (70s) we were taught to write. Hell, in high school we were taught how to diagram sentences too! ;-)

    I don’t think the kids today are taught anything on how to write a paper or how to put together two intelligent sentences. When I went to a private liberal arts university in uptown New Orleans for a 2nd degree I was shocked at what got submitted for a “paper” at that school. It was appalling to say the least.

  33. I know the English dept. at my University uses a website that proves plagiarism. I don’t use it since I’m in the Foreign Language dept, but I can tell if my students use a translation program ( everything is wrong). That’s an automatic fail for me. Also, as ridiculous as this is, I have to put in my syllabus that you have to attend class. Isn’t that a given? I give them 2 absences and progressively mark down their grade with each additional absence. You should hear some of the excuses I get.

  34. Oh geez! The MLA Style Manual does still exist!! 8O

    http://www.mla.org/store/CID25/PID341

    Quelle surprise!

  35. Hey Lion! How are ya sister. Yes there IS a website that you can compare two texts to. You can also deduce if two different writers are the same person. I just can’t remember where the site is.

    Hey Stoner! Why don’t you give me a call.

  36. Off topic but: More bailouts for GM?

    http://tinyurl.com/ycypa4l

  37. lol fred, do you think these clowns know what ibid is? Why bother when you can just say it’s all yours.

  38. If you already knew your grammar and how to write by the time you got out of 8th grade, raise your hand.

  39. Forget GM, Fredster, Chrysler has told us to screw off. They are not going to pay back a penny.

  40. Hey gang my friend the lion is a german professor.

  41. Here’s one of the websites Uppity called Turn it In.

    http://turnitin.com/static/index.html

  42. imust the one i saw was free.

  43. Uppity@2:52! :lol:

    Ibid is when I bid, like ya know…if I were at an auction or something. :roll:

    And on that freshman research paper…I cranked that thing out on a Smith and Corona portable typewriter! 8O Had to be very careful about erasures in the event you made a hole in the paper.

  44. I do have a plagiarism check site link here somewhere to check who is writing my stuff and signing their name to it. It’s happened to me one too many times to suit me.

  45. UW@2:52 second posting

    {{{{{ waving over here!!!}}}}

    Of course that was then and this is now. ;-)

    I used to win spelling bees in jr. high too, but hell that’s gone. Give me spell check or give me death.

  46. yup Fredster. And op cit is Opposite in texting.

  47. Hey Fredster, remember that mimeographed paper? The teacher would hand out the test freshly printed and we would all sniff the paper.

  48. I went through college with a Brother MANUAL typewriter — and lots and lots of corrasible paper LOL!

    -MS

  49. I gots to git sum worke dun. C U all latir.

  50. “If you already knew your grammar and how to write by the time you got out of 8th grade, raise your hand.’

    I thought I did UW. We moved from the Maryland public school system into a private International School in Germany when I started the 9th grade.
    Turns out I knew not so much.

  51. Even when I went to college and grad school in the 80s, profs would ask within 1 or two classes if I had I gone Catholic School. They could always pick us out. No expectations of “grading on a curve” as we did not even know such a thing existed. We did not panic at being given essay tests rather than multiple guess and we expected to have to give oral presentations that were coherent and informative.

    For many years I taught adult education classes for a university in the area. I loved the older students and in particular the military students. For the most part these two groups expected to have to work and they also expected to actually learn new skills that would be useful.

    Most of my courses were quantitative and I often held special tutoring sessions to help get the older students back into dealing with basic algebra and other maths in order for them to be less intimidated by statistics and research methodologies. I also would have at least one session each class on how to do research and in particular – how to do research online (and to tell the difference between good data and crap) since many of the older students were baffled when they found their beloved card catalogs and other “ancient” items had vanished from the library. The older students were always encouraged that although I had to take Fortran and other programming classes (as part of a business degree!) most of my computer skills were self taught and that they too could learn to use computers as a tool.

    The older students always came and did the extra work. And yes, joey, in general it was very obvious that the Asians, no matter what the age or ethnicity, were always up for work groups and extra sessions. As were many of the foreign students. They aligned themselves very quickly with the older students. It was fascinating to watch how some groups chose work ethics over peer groups.

    Most of the remaining regular college students (who thought taking “adult classes” would be a piece of cake) quickly realized they were out of their element and would complain that the work was too difficult and they thought they just had to learn theory – not do – you know – math stuff.

    A major complaint was that I rarely give tests. You know – multiple guess directly from the book. I gave numerous homework assignments and special projects like poster sessions since the majority of the students worked and needed not only to be able to do the research and analysis but had to to be able to present their efforts in the real world. I also gave reading assignments that required students to actually go to the library and then discuss the pieces in class.

    I even had some youngsters insist that they should get an automatic “A” because they always got A’s — or — because their parents had paid tuition and in return your get an A.

    These complaints were really funny if the class was being held on a military base because they had to go through the military hierarchy and soon found no sympathy for such attitudes. Plus the military insisted that the prof take role each class and submit the roster sheet. Poor little kids – they never expected – to actually have to GO TO CLASS.

    Of special interest, the supposedly technically superior college students can actually do very little useful work on a computer. They write using texting shorthand and get mad when their work is returned with lots of markups. These young people can rarely use a word processor let alone set up spreadsheets or create even the simplest of databases. Powerpoint and bullet points seem to be the skills they possess (I hate those commercials showing little kids in school using Powerpoint).

    And yes, there are many types of intellect. Our society often focus on a very narrow definition. Technical jobs including electricians, mechanics and plumbers require abilities many supposedly smart kids simply do not possess. And so many kids are raised with the notion that such excellent vocations are beneath them. When in fact, most academicians would be unable to actually put their theories into practice in real time.

  52. I was required to take Personal Typing in high school as part of the college entrance curriculum. My teacher was a young guy who tried to grope every one of us girls. Years later he became superintendent.

  53. UW@3:05: LOL! Shades of Animal House!!

    Park Slope, my S/C was a manual too. I should have said “pounded” out that paper. :-)

    I was always afraid of that corrasible paper and smearing.

  54. Same about the Catholic school and no grade whatsoever. A 92 was a B+. Of course, I have other issues with those schools, mostly the way that I was graded DOWN ON PURPOSE BECAUSE THEY TOLD ME IT CAME TOO EASILY FOR ME YES I AM STILL ANGRY.

    This is one of the reasons why music is such a good thing for kids to learn to do. There’s no bullshitting, no cheating, and no arguing. You either hit the note or you don’t. And if you don’t, that violin’s gonna sound like whale song.

    I’d say the same thing about languages, but I had my own experiences as one of those people that can pick up languages like most people pick up colds, watching teachers “letting” kids mispronounce things, who would then say, “The teacher said I could say it this way.” Yeah, like some Frenchman’s gonna excuse you because your teacher said you didn’t have to remember to leave off that -ent, dumbass.

    Again though — music from soneone who can’t do it is better. Because it’s fucking painful unless you know what you’re doing. It’s one of the few things in the world where pure gender- and color-blind ability are what matter. At least in classical, where you have the advantage of the blind audition, the most glorious thing ever to be created on this Earth.

    Ramble over.

  55. Sorry, should have been “no grade curve” whatsoever. The first time I saw a number in the low 80s on a paper in college, I almost had a fucking heart attack.

  56. GET UP, GOOD BILL.. The Staggering Sots are seducing your son.

    Get the one with the glass. It’s (shudder) HIM.

    .

  57. Bill is too occupied trying to uncork the bubbly!

  58. Grammar! OMG! I have to teach English grammar along with German grammar. Do you think anyone knows what an infinitive is? Indirect object? Passive voice? I had a student who asked me how to congregate verbs. Well, first you put them all in a neat little line….
    I poll my students at the beginning of each semester to see when was the last time they had a grammar class. The answer is never. WTF?

  59. And then they grow up to be Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson.

  60. Oh ! You said a mouthful Uppity. I teach college . I am literally harassed for not dumbing down my classes. I have a dean who continually objects to having an APA paper as the culmintion assignment of one of my class. She thinks it is not at the level of a community college. I wrote academic papers in high school, now it is only appropriate at the BSN level. She also looks at the number of failures in my class and I have to explain why the students failed. I call it the consumerism of higher education, and if the student is dissatisfied beware, the customer is always right, I had to be doing something wrong otherwise the student would have passed. Oh, I could go on and on. Cheating is just the tip of the academic iceberg that is bringing down our educational institutions.

  61. These schools brought to you courtesy of Herr Professor William Ayers and his SDS pals, who have taken control of teacher training programs, north-south-east-west.

  62. Great post, agree with all of you. In the late 80’s I worked with a young Japanese man who told me that High School in Japan was grueling, and that they worked like slaves to get through it (longer school days & Saturday school in Japan–also, they wear uniforms), almost to the point of having nervous breakdowns, then in college, they were able to take it easier and do the party thing. It sounded like the opposite of my life.

    Another bizarre aspect to modern education are the “diploma mills”. Online schools that offer a college diploma for a few grand and a small amount of time doing their “courses”. When people started becoming aware that these “diplomas” were non-accredited, the scammers created their own accrediting institutions, so that they now offer “accedited diplomas”. They have fooled a lot of smart people.

  63. Mary @ 5:12, good point. We see the results of Ayers lifelong achievements anytime we look at the inane low-level comments @ the cheeto place and fluffpo.

  64. Uppity, we also had an old family friend who was extremely wealthy, owned a huge transportation company, and yet had a 8th grade education. He let me live in his beach house for free one year (before I was married) & told me to let him know when I ran out of firewood; so when I did, I called his company & told his secretary. I thought he’d send some employee over with some wood, but to my amazement, he showed up on the weekend in an old pickup truck full of chopped wood, ready for the fireplace. He then unloaded & stacked it neatly. He was a sweet old man, completely down-to-earth, always helping people. He owned an island also & was worth a couple hundred million back in the 80’s. 8th grade education, and he lived an amazing life, traveled the world, lived simply and was a philanthropist.

  65. Excuse this old war horse retired teacher (grades 2 through college, over 37 years) from stating the obvious: the time to stop the cheating is not in colege, but in kindergarten. The first place to teach children right from wrong is the home. The lessons begi when the TV, computer, and video games are turned off.

  66. ot: there’s an interesting article on nq called “Notes on an Extremist” about the undie bomber. They posted this article from London:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6971098.ece

  67. Mt. Laurel……Fortran….now there’s a blast from the past, LOL!!

    Schools are being dumbed down year after year. Grammar is a thing of the past for most school systems. Although, our local high school does still teach sentence diagramming. I had to teach my older children how to do research and write a paper, right down to teaching them footnotes and bibliography styles. They were not taught any of that in school, but were still expected to produce papers.

    Little somebody is being home schooled and she gets plenty of grammar because I’m a mean old mom!!

  68. For a few decades, Hal did some “online editing” for friends…until one asked him to do some editing for a college paper.

    Which brings me to Cooney’s APA style/format paper. This was new to me, so I had to learn APA style on top of it.

    Okay, ahem, now the situation was dicey= He was a friend, but you get the “why me?” feeling, too.

    This guy wasn’t too brainy, a piss poor writer, and I doubt that he’d know APA style if it smacked him.

    Sigh, I “reworded” it so he didn’t sound like a fool, making me one for “helping” him, since he didn’t learn
    a damn thing.

    You know the saying “Good deeds never go
    unpunished?

    He was so “thankful” about this paper, which
    drew an A he didn’t deserve, that he immediately fed me another paper that was due the day before. Shit.

    The second paper, which I returned basically unchanged except for formatting, the prof graded
    as an F, docking him for being late and catching him with one of those programs (turnitin?) that detects plagiarism. (He’d copied passages without proper attribution.)

    He got mad at me…. for what? Not saving his cheating ass? How was I to blame except for encouraging
    that crap in the first place? Yep, it was like a parent-
    child relationship that ended badly. Maybe he did learn from it.

    An Uppityism she one said to me still holds true. It went something like: “Your failure to plan ahead is no fault of mine.” (Not exact but the gist of it.)

  69. Boy this post sure brought out more commenters. Thank you! I knew you were there!

  70. “Congregate a verb”
    RRRRRRRRRRRROFLLLLLLLLLLLL.

  71. An Uppityism she one said to me still holds true. It went something like: “Your failure to plan ahead is no fault of mine.” (Not exact but the gist of it.)

    Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency for me.

  72. “If you already knew your grammar and how to write by the time you got out of 8th grade, raise your hand.”

    8th Garde???? In the Catholic school I went to it was by 6th grade as you were expected to write essays and compositions complete with research and footnotes in 7th and 8th grades.

    I am glad to see you deal with this topic, Uppity. The amount of cheating in schools and in America in general today had its full flowering in the primary campaign and election of Obama. He lied and cheated his way to the Presidency. So many of his young followers helped him cheat his way there too.

    As George Carlin once said, “It is only a matter of time until the dumbest person in America is elected President.”

    This epidemic of cheating at all levels and in all aspects of our lives is part and parcel of why America is in decline. And much of it is the fault of parents who pamper their children instead of teaching and parenting.

    I also agree that not every person needs a college degree. I know that sounds strange from someone who used to be a teacher. But it is true nonetheless. Here is a very short list of successful people who did not have college degrees: Mary Kay Ash, Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rachael Ray, Peter Jennings, Alex Haley, Steve Jobs, and John Glenn. Thomas Edison did not have a college degree either. I read a story once that he was thrown out of school in third grade and his teacher told his mother that he was lazy and day dreamed too much and not to bring him back to school ever. Yeah! Daydreamed the world into the light bulb and so much more. More of us should have such daydreams.

    I used this quote once before on this blog. But it so good I will post it again:

    “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

    John W. Gardner
    Secretary of Health Education and Welfare under JFK and author of “Excellence.”

  73. “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

    So true.

  74. Re: Catholic schools. I should disclose that my first two years of teaching were in a Catholic school. My observations: There was more discipline, but almost to the point of neurosis. Kids after all, ARE kids. I would venture to say that some of those kids grew up truly neurotic thanks to Sister Constant Desire. Laughing here. The second and VERY important thing is that they got to PICK who stayed in their school and the preponderance of their parents were able to come up with tuition money. The truth is, having taught in both, I found just as many bright and well-learned students in public school when I moved on, but there were also more dumb shits and problem kids. This is because the public schools can’t pick their students, they are significantly larger in population, and everybody and anybody gets to go there. But I will tell you this: There were two students I had in Catholic school and I swore both of them would land in jail. I am not sure where one of them landed, as long as it wasn’t near me because this kid was a future psycho without a doubt, but the other one IS in prison. Worst two kids I ever knew.

    The saying when I taught school was, if you take an ugly kid and follow him home and ring the doorbell, an ugly parent will answer the door. Their parents coddled and protected them even in the face of the fact that there were real problems with these kids. The difference in the private school (and that’s what a catholic school really is) is that the tolerance level is a lot lower from problem kids and respect of teachers is required. However, I had no problem receiving respect in public school either, as it was always clear to me that teachers need to earn at least some of the respect they want from students. If you are a swine, kids know you are a swine. Then too, because public schools do not get to pick and choose who attends, and the potential for law suits and all sorts of problems is high as opposed to private schools that have choices. But on a system of scale, I would have to say for sure that the ratio of dumb kids in the catholic school was no different than the ratio in the public school.

  75. Uppity,

    There’s something on your site making my IE crash something fierce. Typically, the Internet Explorer can’t tell me what’s doing it, either.

  76. That’s news to me 15. Could you be more specific? Better yet, Use firefox and leave shitty IE behind.

  77. Ok I blew the dust off my IE and I am posting from there. So far no problems.

  78. What a great post and thread. I just got home from work and checked in here. I wanted to respond to nearly everyone. The comments have been super.
    My first teaching job was in a Chicago public school. I was ordered by my principal to pass EVERY student – or else! I told him that I would not pass any student who did not meet my standards and that if he wanted them (he declined) passed, he’d have to pass them and sign the report cards himself. The mother of one of the students I failed came to school the first day of the following fall. (I was assigned the student for the second time.) The mother thanked me for retaining her child. She said I was the first teacher the child ever had who actually took an interest in teaching and in making certain her child learned. (this was in 1970)

  79. You did the right thing, leslie. There is no way I would have passed a failing student. That’s what’s wrong with our current system….among other things.

    LOL how about those parents who come to you in May and ask if you can find a tutor for their kids? Flunk now and avoid the June rush. lol.

  80. AAAACKKKK!!!
    Baby Bill…..he’s got the champagne bottle….he’s aiming it at the penguin……Bill appears on alert and ready to pounce! What’s gonna happend to Bill Jr. and MKB???

  81. I think that if the pressure to pass students even if they couldn’t read was happening in 1970, I cannot imagine how much greater the pressure is today. My beautiful son was hired during the summer to teach in the CPS (chicago public schools). I wonder what stories he’ll be able to tell at the end of his first year.

    Thanks for that neat quote (bert @7:54) about plumbing and philosophy.
    I finally found a decent plumber, and a top philosophy professor lives in the apt. right above me. I’m going to share this with them both. :)

  82. imust,

    I think you’re right. Bill and Baby Bill are on the move. If they can just take out the Gruesome Glass-toter, all will be well.

  83. Yes, Catholic schools can choose their students and that indeed does make a difference. My parents were lower middle class, but a classic education was what they wanted for their children and so they both worked and scraped by to send their children. The parish and school were in a poor neighborhood. I did not realize that, of course, until I was in high school. But the education spigot also stopped when my brothers and I got to college age, or adulthood. Then we were on out own and had to pay our own way to college.

    As I look back on those days there are things about Catholic schools I find lacking. But the one thing they did do, and still do well, is teach you how to read, write, do basic math. I also learned geography. I would be happy if public schools did those basics today. And Catholic education was a great foundation for college and for later life. The public schools would do well to emulate some of those classroom practices, like the emphasis on basic learning. There is some research I have read that children from the ghetto learn to read and do math with greater skill in Catholic schools than in charter schools and in public schools. But I don’t have time right now to look it up.

    Also as someone mentioned public schools today have a bad habit of just passing students to the next grade whether they have earned it or not. That is not good for the child nor for society as a whole. Failing a grade is not a stigma and parents do their children no favor in demanding either grade inflation or automatic passing a grade.

    Regarding reading and grade inflation mentioned in one of the comments, I have my Master’s Degree in Reading. And I have a gift – I can teach near any child to learn to read. The biggest problem in reading education today is the whole language approach to teaching reading and not teaching phonics. The brain research and the brain imagining has shown that readers actually sound out every letter in every word when reading. If a teacher does not teach the letter-sound relationship (or if a child does not pick it up naturally in the home, which some children do) chances are that child will not learn to read proficiently and with understanding.

    My experiences with teachers first as a teacher, then as a supervisor of student teachers at a midsize college, and from providing in-services to teachers for an educational publishing company is that many teachers do not want to actually teach. They just want children that already know certain basic skills and the teacher just wants to do fun activities with them. Teachers want a classroom full of exceptional children who already know how to read and how to do basic math. Most children actually need to have someone show them how, or teach them the mechanics, of those skills.

  84. Explorer test post

  85. Whew! Back to firefox. Now I feel like I need to take a shower.

  86. Writing, or rather being known as a writer, is hazardous. Alas, even decades ago, when I was a college freshman with a new Valedictorian certificate, I was asked to write papers for PhD students. (I was aghast at the request, however, and refused to do so.)

    Editing, on the other hand, is a life-long disease. I have been through a few life cycles of our dumbing down era, but I nevertheless groan daily when I hear anchors and television news reporters slaughter the English language. Conjugate? Congregate? For heaven’s sakes, they have no idea about the present and past tenses of verbs, nothing about subject-verb agreement, nor even the proper pronoun in a sentence. I cannot understand how they were graduated from the third grade!

    “Him and her went to the store. He had saw the train coming. She had fell down. She had spranged up when she saw them.” That doesn’t even include the perennial, “I seen the plane coming down….”

    Yet, I read web sites of “well-educated” people who actually brag that they pay no attention to grammar or spelling — as if poor writing has no consequences.

    I am harsh, however, and I must admit that I used to correct the spelling in assignment notes written by my children’s teachers. ( I also have seen graduate and post-graduate papers approved by college academics that I would have returned if they had been submitted to my publication.)

    Unfortunately, the system has been suffering for decades. My mother, who died a few years ago, and my living aunt, had a much stricter high school education, including four years of Latin, than virtually any colleges have required since their time. So, is there any hope we weil get better?

  87. For a brief time during the 1960’s I taught middle school math and science, and was witness to the devastation wrought upon students when the math curriculum was switched from the rote method to ‘new math’. Only the most capable students were able to survive that transition.
    snip
    During the 1980’s and 1990’s I had access to a Bell Laboratories’ facility and took note that a high percentage of the brightest bulbs there were from the Middle East, including India, or the Pacific Coast of Asia. A notable percentage of them were women.

  88. We really need more apprenticeships, more hands on job training. Even Einstein said if he had to do it all over again, he would have been a plumber. One problem is that we educate people intellectually to do jobs nobody really understands. Community organizer, for example. Ha, or Commander in Chief. People seem to believe in collecting titles rather then doing any actual work. If you’re being trained to be a plumber for example, there can be no cheating. You’re not dealing with an abstract idea. Nobody’s going to give you job simply because you say you are a plumber, you actually have to produce.

  89. What you are saying is people learn by doing. And they do.
    They learn to be plumbers by doing plumber work.
    They learn to write by writing. There was a time when schools actually recognized that.

    As for college, let’s face it, most colleges are led by people who lknow theory and never have actually lived in the real world.

  90. I must admit that I used to correct the spelling in assignment notes written by my children’s teachers.

    Hahahahahha. I do hope they weren’t English teachers.

    I marked up my local newspaper and mailed them to the publisher more than a few times too.

  91. Now I feel like I need to take a shower.

    Internet Explorer will do that to you.

  92. Pam you are spot one with your observation of the changes in math. Years ago I was on a team that went into low performing schools. Our job was to delve into test scores, grades, evaluate teachers etc., paying close attention to the “performance gap” issue between minority and white students. There was a distinct pattern especially within the minority groups; they scored better if their teachers used more rote teaching methods. Typically you would find that said teachers were more advanced in age.

    Unfortunately the team I was on was lead by two PHD’s in education and they balked at the idea of shifting the teaching methods in essence back. The entire experience was a complete waste of time and all the stupid mumbo jumbo the PHD’s spouted made me want to puke. I was the only one that actually challenged them and of course I was constantly overruled. The members of that team followed the professors like sheep.

    Anyway it was certainly an interesting couple of years albeit very frustrating.

    FF I hope you enjoyed your shower, LOL!!

  93. Mary Ellen, gee sounds like a real fun night. lol.

  94. “As for college, let’s face it, most colleges are led by people who lknow theory and never have actually lived in the real world.”

    The main requirement for being a college prez is the ability to raise big bucks

  95. Janis

    Yes, I had that problem with “expected” as well. On one hand it was frustrating because you did not seem to be rewarded for doing well – it was expected of you. On the other hand, it came in handy for many of us later in life when found that – yes – you do not always get a trophy for doing what is expected. In high school our grading system stopped at 74. Anything below that was failing pure and simple.

    Uppity
    Yes, some of the Catholic schools go over board. My older brothers had some of that. My years were far more lenient. But even then, when we took classes at the public school (home econ and shop were state requirements and our school did not offer them), the teachers were amazed at our behavior and the fact the we actually assumed we were to do the class work (and here we thought we were acting up a bit since we were getting a break from nuns).

    As to picking and choosing students. I went through old fashioned Catholic school where anyone was welcome and the parish helped pay tuition for those who could not afford the fees (which at that time were nominal). There was even a fund to help those who were not Catholic – but who wished their children to attend a praochial school. I am sure with today’s economics – this type of assistance is far less prevalent.

    Our pastor even accepted students that the public school could not handle. Most of the time – with very good results. There were only one or two students in the course of my first 8 years that could simply not adjust. I think the picking and choosing has become more prevalent as the schools have taken on more of an air of “private” versus “parochial”.

    Somebody

    Two words: Punch cards! Had to still use these in the early 80’s as we were not computer/engineering students. They got all the newer equipment and those neat new newfangled terminals which I am sure would be considered dinosaurs (along with us).

  96. Mt. Laurel…..ha, ha! I’ve actually made some beautiful Christmas wreaths with old punch cards, LOL!!!!

  97. Oh wait I actually have an old “floppy disc” an original one that is the size of an album, LOL!! I never used that floppy but my father did in the late 60’s or early 70’s. I actually have no idea what might be on it, but we found it when we were cleaning out my father’s things after he passed away a few years ago. Hey he worked for the government so who knows what is on that disc!

    Eureka perhaps I have to the key to Oilsoc’s BC, LOL!!

  98. Punch cards! COBOL programs used them. You could spend all day writing a program, keypuncher would key a card per line, you could trip and fall carrying the box of cards and kiss it all goodbye.

  99. COBOL, wow another blast from the past!!! Damn we’re all old around here, LOL!

  100. […] So Sarah wrote on her hand! Posted on February 7, 2010 by Uppity Woman Now who are the people who would think this is simply awful? Why the same people in this post entitled Substandard Students Just Go Ahead and Cheat Their Way Through College. […]

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