I hated that fellow (c) C.G. Jung

This is an impulsive blog post. The idea came about after (during, in fact) watching this interview which this article linked to.

Story #1

Carl Gustav Jung was going through training to be a doctor and was writing his thesis. Once a certain teacher was discussing the papers of his students and took the best first. Jung’s paper was the last on his table. That’s what the teacher said then (these are all quotes from the video, watch the first part of it):

“That would be by far the best paper, if it hadn’t been copied. You’re a thief!… and if I knew where you’ve stolen it I’d fling you out of school. You are a liar!”

Jung’s comment on this, many years later: “I hated that fellow.  And that was the only man that I could have killed, you know, if I had met him once in the dark corner…”

Story #2

My friend was studying at a university here in Moscow. Once a certain teacher was announcing the grades (supplying these with comments) for the papers the students had written and he/she took the best first. My friend’s paper was the last on his/her table. What the teacher said then could repeat the words of a certain teacher of 100 years before. It looked to be the best paper but it had “surely” been copied.

While in fact my friend was the only student in that group who had written it by himself.

Story #3

I was teaching a group of insurance specialists, all ladies 5-7 years older than me. Once the task was to write a review of some film we’d watched. One of the students, actually the brightest one in that class and the one who always liked to “test” me (I was 23 then), handed in a page with printed text which didn’t sound like her writing. I checked online and found the text of the review down the first link in Google. I pulled myself (and my courage, and my sense of fairness) together and scribbled a message for her on that page, something saying I knew she could do better than that. Next class she brought a good review she’d written herself, and I never felt any slightest hint of disrespect again.

I know my students copied and stole for their writing tasks. I always (??) know when that happens. In most cases I make a personal note on that paper. Sometimes I ask to speak about the topic. Sometimes I call the student out on the cheating. There have been moments I can’t be proud of, when I thought the student had copied but he/she hadn’t in fact. There have been worse cases I can’t bring myself to tell about here.

Here’s what this all leads to for me, in the end.

What’s happening in a classroom relies a lot on the choices I make as a teacher. The kind of choices is not limited to picking materials, methods, tasks, tools, management strategies, considering learner types, acting on emergent language and reflecting in/on action. These, and everything else that matters in a classroom (and we know by some blog titles there are the other things that matter), constitute the flesh and bone of a lesson. In a lame attempt to tie Jung in here, let’s say that there’s also psyche of a lesson. Maybe it is the choices we are making (as humans), which are not necessarily rational or right all the time. We are making impulsive choices (ok, maybe I am making impulsive choices, not you). Some of them are intuitive and correct, others can be..well, not disastrous but leaving me feeling awkward, even ashamed at times. 

For all we know there could have been lethal consequences to poor choices teachers made. This exaggeration doesn’t serve to prove anything.

I apologise to those who don’t find psychology enthralling or connected to this post. It’s night time writing again!

Let me know what you think, if there’s anything here to think about. Thanks!

*****

UPD, because there IS something here to think about. Thank you for this.

Plagiarists and cheats – a blog post by Graham Stanley

The Cheating Art – a blog post with a lesson plan, by David Petrie

Digital Plagiarism vs Digital Citizenship: a war of words – a 2013 IATEFL Hungary talk by Sophia Mavridi, shared by Bethany Cagnol in her post-like comment below

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21 thoughts on “I hated that fellow (c) C.G. Jung

  1. Tefl skeptic says:

    I enjoyed this

  2. Sophia says:

    Those ‘psyche’ moments are also the ones we really remember even years later aren’t they. As you say, we don’t really remember the particular activity or whatever – just the human moment when you get something magical or disastrous as a consequence. Thanks for an unusual post Anna, I also enjoyed it a lot (and I love Jung too, so it was irresistible!)

    • annloseva says:

      Sophia, thank you very much for the comment. I remember these human moments, and we see students also remember them. Maybe that should mean something, then.. And I’m not sure how to control them, I believe it’s down to the personality and temperament, not too easy to rein.
      Jung is among those few names I remember from my university classes very vividly not just as names, but as connected to ideas I could relate to then. Good to note you like him, too)

  3. mickstout says:

    I LOVE this post. Thank you so much for sharing these stories Anna.
    No time now, but would love to talk more about this. Perhaps this autumn in Japan!

    • annloseva says:

      Michael, a very big thank you for leaving this comment and the brilliant share on Twitter! Thank you. I’m really happy you found these stories interesting. I hope we can talk about this in November.

  4. pmateini says:

    Today I understand more what is beneath of a Teacher or Professor mind, most of the time judgements are done without taking consideration of the background and Knowledge of our students, in which most of the time They are capable to do amazing and bad things, that the human being nature, that is what philosophers called Ethic. I Reckon that Teaching and Psychology must have kind of balance in the classroom environment, it’s important for both side (Teacher and Students) otherwise one will get hurt.

    • annloseva says:

      Priscila, I have no knowledge to base my thoughts upon (only very limited, superficial understanding), but I just AGREE. In the interview Jung says that we must learn about the man, as from within the man come all amazing AND bad things, as you’re saying it. This looks such an obvious thing, really, and I believe it to be true. So I agree with you and Jung =)
      Thanks for leaving this comment and supporting my line of thinking!

  5. Anna, thanks for this reflective post – I’m another one who enjoyed it a lot. It’s made me start thinking about some of the moments in my own teaching career when I caught students cheating and how I dealt with them…you may have inspired me to blog about these, so thank you!

    • annloseva says:

      Hi Graham, thanks a lot! Happy to see you on my blog and enjoying the stories I shared. There have been funny stories, too, connected with copying and cheating. I wonder what you’ll blog about! Looking forward to that, if you decide to write it)

  6. Thank you so much for writing this, Ann! Like Graham, I’m inspired to give a response to your piece:

    I know all too well the feelings of questioning a student’s written work. I have often come across papers that I thought were plagiarized, but weren’t (to the best of my knowledge – but there was always that annoying, skeptical voice in my head that said, “Well, they used a source that isn’t available on the internet and/or they got their parent / sister / brother / cousin / fellow student / English tutor to write it for them”.).

    I’ve often wondered if I should pile up all their mobile devices in a corner of the room to make my students write their work in front of me. But I’ve always decided against it for two main reasons:

    1) Doing this would waste valuable speaking time for the students. When I only see them once a week, I would feel much much worse if I let my lack of trust control my pedagogy. As one good friend and colleague said, “I choose to trust my students. We accomplish so much more that way.”

    2) I look in the mirror and find that when writing in another language (French) I almost never write without using online tools (e.g. Google Translate, Word Reference, conjugation-fr.com, I Google terms and phrases to be sure they are correct, etc.). Gasp! The horror! Furthermore, I almost always ask a native speaker to look at the text before I send it off. So, how can I, with a clean conscious, demand my students not use any of these tools?

    I used to be a complete control freak when it came to plagiarism. Like Graham in his blog post, I would give students ‘0s’ and be completely intolerant to any copying of material that wasn’t theirs. But then a 2013 IATEFL Hungary talk by Sophia Mavridi on digital plagiarism changed my life. You can watch the session here: http://bit.ly/M30XVX

    Thanks to Sophia, I now start my semesters at university with a definition of plagiarism and how to avoid it. I show my students how to cite sources in their paper and how to write a bibliography. It has dramatically professionalized the atmosphere of the classroom and the students enjoy the opportunity to praise or be critical of the works of other writers. This semester I will even show them how they can cite their own work!

    Sure it takes some students longer than others to grasp the concept, but that’s the beauty and excitement of teaching isn’t it? Everyone learns at their own pace.

    And thanks to Sophia’s advice I’m a lot more relaxed when I evaluate students’ papers. Now, rather than giving the students a ‘0’, I give the paper back to them and ask them to include the sources.

    Thank you again for your post, Ann. It reaches out to fellow teachers and tells them that they are not alone! Hear hear!

    • In class writing exercises with business students, I take the stance “use your resources”. That’s what people do in the real world. That means conferring with classmates, asking me, looking up online. If there’s a dictionary in the room, I encourage its use.
      As you say Bethany, it’s how we manage in L2 too.
      If I treat me students like adults, they (often) tend to behave as such. Where pre-agreed rules are broken, they have to accept the consequences. (Here I use the term”adult” in the transactional analysis sense).
      That being said, I have minimal experience with academic papers on which students’ final grades are dependent.
      It’s certainly worth reflecting on how I, as teacher, react to a student’s infringement. That moment could have all sorts of repercussions if I’ve responded without consideration of the bigger picture.

      • annloseva says:

        “That’s what people do in the real world.” Yes, very true, and seems also true to teach how to use these resources on a level other than copy&paste.
        Thanks for the comment.

    • annloseva says:

      Thank you, Bethany, for leaving such a great response (which could easily be a blog post itself)) and sorry it took me a while to get back with a comment!

      I have SO often heard the skeptical voice you’re talking about! And still hear. It seems so difficult to just trust students.. sometimes. It also makes me feel guilty, for I know I am skeptical more often than I should be. It’s my ongoing mission, one of many, to keep this work building trust.

      A special thanks for sharing Sophia’s talk! And all of your ideas that followed it. Talking about plagiarism and how you take it in your classes with your own students looks such a great idea. So simple and open, and yet I believe it is effective!
      “It has dramatically professionalized the atmosphere of the classroom and the students enjoy the opportunity to praise or be critical of the works of other writers.” – this really struck me. I think it is an aspect I’ve been overlooking all the time in regards to many points of my teaching (I mean really caring for a professional atmosphere in class). Thanks a lot for bringing it into light for me! It is very important.

      Great to know that students can learn more and better and maybe more willingly with a very simple change in attitude in the way we teachers communicate with them. I like it. Thanks a lot for your comment again! And it is nice to have your comment on my blog in general =))

  7. […] Loseva has just written a great post on the impact the accusation of cheating can have.  This prompted Graham Stanley to reflect on encounters with plagiarism […]

  8. David Petrie says:

    Hi Ann,

    Just to let you know you and Graham inspired a lesson, a brief bit of action research and a blog post on cheating! It’s here if you’re interested: http://teflgeek.net/2014/01/24/the-cheating-art/

    Thanks,
    David

  9. Paul Read says:

    I was a novice teacher, invigilating an end of term test for my intermediate class. After the test, as I was reading the “film reviews” they had written, I came across a suspicious text.

    It had been written by an educated man just a few years younger than me, but very much in the right level of English class. What made me suspicious was the first sentence, which I still remember went something like “This swashbuckling tale of derring-do set on the high seas of the Caribbean…”

    I googled the sentence, and hit upon a Yahoo film review that had been reproduced almost verbatim in the exam.

    I gave him a big fat 0 on his test for plagiarism. He complained and said that he had memorized it especially for the exam, and that doing so had helped him to learn a lot of new words. I was unmoved, appalled at the blatant way he’d seemed to miss the point of a writing test.

    A few years down the line, I wish I could find him again and apologize. While I don’t think that memorizing a Yahoo film review is a particularly useful way to go about preparing for a test, I no longer consider it a moral outrage, and now I recognize the situation for what it was: an opportunity to get to know something useful about this guy, his motivations, his work ethic, his desire to learn. I’m not even sure I would still call this “cheating”. He certainly ended up putting in more effort than some of the others in the class.

    Sorry, Andrey, and thanks Ann for the post 🙂

    • annloseva says:

      Paul, thank you very much for sharing this story. It moved me in a certain way, especially your words about a lost opportunity to learn more about the student. This is such an angle to this whole issue we’re discussing… Indeed. And again, I’m thinking about “rash” teacher decisions.. Just making a pause and thinking for a while could make a whole lot of difference in many situations.

      Thank you again, Paul. This story is on my mind now!

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