Thursday, September 16, 2010


Of course as a teacher, I've encountered plagiarism.  And most of the time, it's pretty obvious. Kids have a certain voice, and it comes out in their speech and writing - even the short answers they give on a quiz shows their voice.  When they go ahead and copy and paste, I have to sigh at their naivety thinking that I wouldn't catch on immediately.

I remember a project I gave my eighth graders my first year.  They could draw, write a story or poem, or make a collage about the short story they liked the the quarter.

Of course- what should have taken the kids a few nights after school took two weeks of class time -- Rookie mistake for sure.

But - well-- live and learn.

I remember looking at the pieces as each student handed in their work and being in awe at the beauty of their creativity - of course there were a few duds - but that's how it goes sometimes - creativity during those two weeks was low for that student or whatever.

One student handed in something he drew at home - but it wasn't the original - it was scanned and printed.  He told me that right after he was finished he had scanned it and set it down - and his pop spilled all over it.

The story was fishy - and yet, for some reason believable.

I held it up and showed it to the para.

He shook his head "Naww... he didn't do it."

I wanted to believe the student.  I showed it to the art teacher.

"No Way..."  she said.

That night, I had volunteered to be on the fan bus.  This kid's parents were signed up to be on  my bus.  I brought the beautiful work with me.

When they looked at me, they said "Oh - he does this all the time."

I knew it!!!  I knew this kid was a prodigy!  I was thrilled.  I was excited that he had shown me his brilliance, and I discovered it!

What I didn't count on was that by asking and validating this artwork the kid wouldn't trust me again for a very long time..  By questioning, he felt I was questioning him.  I think that hurt him.

I never handed back that work.  I kept it in my happy file.  I knew he had a scan of it at home  I wanted it to remind me to trust my own instincts. Hopefully, he'll show off his talent to more teachers so they'll believe him too.  I won't be there to take out his beautiful picture and say - "Well, he did draw this for me that one time."


EDK said...

True talent will out, they say,

whatever the disappointments along
the way.

To be too good to be believed,

ah, that is true talent indeed.

ME said...


I like that!