Complete Disillusionment

Three students in Theater Appreciation–100% plagiarism on their final project.

I’m devastated.

One of them is an ESL student from Korea. Maybe the assignment was too challenging for him. But he didn’t even make an effort to hide the plagiarism. He cited sources, but the article is word for word from another source. (Although it does look like he took information from various sources, word for word).

The other two, part of the basketball team that has made my life challenging this semester. (As you can read about here) Again, word for word. Cut and paste of an entire paper. I gave them a higher grade at midterm so they could play (even though I didn’t want to). And this is what happens.

People around here keep asking what they can do to make me want to stay. They don’t want to see Nathan and I go. But how can I continue to teach when I am disillusioned with teaching? How can I continue to share my passion for theater in a place that bombards me with challenges and disrespect?

I don’t know what I want out of life anymore, but it is certainly not this.

My heart is aching.

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Arlee Bird
    May 06, 2011 @ 17:20:48

    At least papers that are handwritten are more difficult than cut and paste documents, but students like these may not even be able to write by hand. It is a sad statement about the integrity of the educational system when educators must deal with these types of situations.

    Tossing It Out


    • Lisa
      May 06, 2011 @ 17:25:04

      I think the most frustrating part is that I don’t require a research paper. It is one of many options for their final project. So they obviously just did not care, and think I am too stupid to realize that they don’t care. But when they turn in papers that show a mediocre ability to write and then turn in things that suddenly contain eloquent material, I’m not exactly fooled.


  2. Aligaeta
    May 06, 2011 @ 17:25:27

    At times like this you give them what they deserve and thats the F. You don’t hand over your passion for the theater. Don’t let them rob you of the joy the theater brings you.

    You certainly should look to the students who appreciate what you have to offer and have grown through your program.

    Perhaps this isn’t the situation for you. Today is not the day to decide that when your filled with disappointment.

    You have so much to offer and unfortunately the opportunities are slim in these times. Embrace the positive. Your a wonderful gifted woman with many friends to support you through this difficult time.


    • Lisa
      May 06, 2011 @ 17:42:19

      Unfortunately this has been building for a while. It’s not just one class or one situation. I know I am a good teacher and I know I help many students, but I just don’t know any more if I can continue to function in an academic situation. I think I’d be a better mentor or something. And the theater stuff has been just as bad, after the horror of trying to get the last show up. Today someone who thinks his better than me at everything tried to give me advice. I know his ego is huge, but at the same time moments like that add to my own self-doubt. I’m my own worst critic. 😛 I know that I should focus on my successes and positives, but it is so hard sometimes.


  3. Sandi Ormsby
    May 06, 2011 @ 18:00:41

    Lisa, I’m sorry to read this.

    I’d call them on it, and show them. Give them the opportunity to redo, averaging in with their F the best grade being no higher than a C? Or they can take their “F” and they can explain it to their parents/coaches?

    The sports guys I went to school with, many of thems never had faith in themselves when it came to academics. Perhaps they need a special kind of teacher to take interest in them?



    • Lisa
      May 06, 2011 @ 18:18:05

      I would normally do that if they had shown one ounce of respect for me during the semester. I may try to meet with the foreign student, but I honestly don’t think I owe anything to the other two.


  4. lifeintheboomerlane
    May 06, 2011 @ 18:15:00

    I like Sandi’s idea to confront them and give them an opportunity to re-do, but with the knowledge that the grade will go no higher than C. I get so depressed to hear stories like this, across all schools and all grades and all communities.


    • Lisa
      May 06, 2011 @ 18:21:37

      See the comment I wrote in response to Sandi. With the foreign student, even with a zero, his grade would be a C. It should have been an A. I just sent him an e-mail giving him the chance to revise. One of the athletes is doomed to failing no matter what. The other one simply did the minimum throughout the course, and usually sat there texting or sleeping.


  5. sparksinshadow
    May 06, 2011 @ 18:35:44

    I don’t know about your past, but my own makes it easier for me to recognize and focus on my self doubt and perceived failures. Success (no matter how large or small) feels in my body like the prelude to another fall. And that is if I actually pause to look at it, and savor a success, at all. It’s so hard to really focus on changing these habits. I think that unlearning these things is a lot like smokers trying to say no to the intense pull of nicotene addiction.

    I know that I learned to doubt myself in my own home, even though I was a very outgoing and friendly toddler, and I learned it so very well that my natural tendencies changed into doubting myself virtually all the time. Even though I’ve learned that there is a perverse comfort for humans in continuing to perceive things in the ways that we always have, I wonder if you, as the wonderfully open and creative person you are, can remind yourself of, and can share with us, some of your successes– large and small.

    As someone who doesn’t really know you except through your writing, I do know that you have a Doctorate. (I didn’t graduate high school, and I’m beginning to cry now because I want to beat myself with a stick.) I know you have a beautiful daughter who you love and take good care of. I know that you have a husband who loves you. I know that you are not prejudiced against any of your fellow human beings because of superficial things like skin color or religion, and that you care about art and about the people of our world turning against violence and achieving world peace. Without knowing anything else about you, I know that you are a successful human being. I myself, as someone who can manufacture darkness from any compliment and assure anyone that I am undeserving, have a good idea of what you may be thinking now, but I promise not to get out my stick if you promise to think about the handful of students (even if it’s just the one who came that day when you did the theatrical make up) who got something out of your class. She deserves to have experienced you, even if the others don’t.


    • Lisa
      May 06, 2011 @ 19:15:05

      First, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. It is always strange when somebody else describes you, but I accept your interpretation with humble joy.

      Second, you are correct, I will not allow you to beat yourself with a stick. Some of the most fascinating people I’ve every met did not finish high school. And sometimes I think my degrees only show my masochistic tendencies. They don’t make me any smarter, just more stubborn. I value much of the education I have learned outside of school more than the classwork and academic achievements. That said, it is never too late if you want to pursue your education. There is nothing to stop you from getting your GED and a college degree if those are part of your dreams. You don’t need them though. You are an amazing writer in both poetry and prose, and you can write circles around many of the people I know who did get their doctorates.


      • sparksinshadow
        May 06, 2011 @ 19:37:17

        I’m glad that you wrote the word joy! I hope you feel a lot more of that in your future. 🙂

        I did get my GED when my daughter was young, but many life experiences got in the way after that to thwart further education. I’m going to explore scholarships, and anything but loans, for college after I’m able to take care of one last life detail that is still getting in the way of it. And thanks for your kinds words about my writing. 🙂


  6. nrhatch
    May 06, 2011 @ 19:11:23

    On with the dance!
    Let joy be unconfined.
    ~ Lord Byron

    As a teacher, we become invested in the success of our students. But what if we measured that success by the life lessons we taught them . . . instead of by the grade they received.

    Fail them. Teach them that actions have consequences. And then you will have succeeded to teach them something valuable indeed.


    • Lisa
      May 06, 2011 @ 19:22:30

      I’m usually much better at embracing the bigger picture of greater learning, but this semester and this particular class have been so stressful and disastrous that I can’t get past the defeat. I will though. I will.


  7. Sue
    May 06, 2011 @ 20:35:15

    Oh, Lisa, my heart goes out to you- the worst part of our jobs is dealing with cheating….. but my mantra remains: they have the right to fail…… If that is what they need to learn, we can provide the lesson.

    Sparksinshadow inspires me- she knows you well, and speaks eloquently.

    You are such a gifted person, with so much to teach and to offer as a friend. Even if you don’t like the lesson you have to teach in this particular case, your strength and honesty demands that you do what is right. It might be a turning point- you may never know. I have known students who stop me in the grocery store years later and thank me for lessons I would have rather not provided… Be strong, celebrate Nathan and Sarah, your creativity and passion and all you have to teach. Your base is stronger than you know. -Sue


    • Lisa
      May 06, 2011 @ 22:11:38

      Tears pouring down my face now Sue. Your words and support (as someone who actually knows me, not just virtually knows me) means so very much. You know that I’ve been struggling with what it means to be in academia for a lot of reasons. This is just another one.


  8. Kathryn McCullough
    May 06, 2011 @ 21:27:55

    Oh, Lisa, I am so sorry to hear this. I don’t want to try advising you about how to handle this. I would fail them automatically–for the entire course, but I don’t know the in’s and out’s of your policies.

    I’m more concerned about you than anything. I want you to feel good about you. I care about you, Lisa, and don’t want you to be discouraged. Hang in there, my friend, and let me know if you need to ventillate. I’m here, if you need me! Hugs to you, dear Lisa!


    • Lisa
      May 06, 2011 @ 22:10:13

      Thanks Kathy. I feel like I’ve been venting all day. I will survive. This has just been a long semester, and the past few years in academia have left a lot to be desired. But I will make it through. I always do.


  9. vixter2010
    May 07, 2011 @ 06:49:14

    Outrageous! I don’t know the inns and outs, I’m guessing they pay for the course as they are foreign student but if I could I’d fail them and read the identical papers out to the class. If they cheat on this what else do they cheat on. You need to get out of there!


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  11. Samyak
    May 08, 2011 @ 03:33:58

    i have been remiss in not seeing this earlier Lisa. your following posts have shown that you are on the right path.

    Here goes a big hug from your friend from blogosphere! Like we say in Spain, “animo querida!”


  12. Mrs. H.
    May 08, 2011 @ 14:52:13

    I am devastated for you. There’s something about cheating and plagiarism that really rock me to my core, too. Why couldn’t either of your two students have come to you during the time they had to work on the project and express their concerns about completion? Surely you’ve made yourself utterly available to them.

    I wish I could say something that would make you feel better, but I know what pain you’re going through…so I can only say that I empathize with you. Also, I’m sending you major virtual hugs.


  13. CMSmith
    May 08, 2011 @ 15:49:58

    I’m sorry you’re struggling. Maybe it is time for a change.


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