Ethical Question Fer Ya

OK, so, Bryan was telling us this story over lunch the other day. One where he was back in high school, and working with his chem lab partner. One where the normal M.O. of the class was for the partners to work together on the project and then one of them would write up the notes, and then the other would copy the notes, verbatim – and then they both would hand them in. Keep in mind that Bryan had a massive A in this class all semester, doing all the projects the same exact way, every single time.

Then, for one project, Bryan got bored with this scenario, and simply xeroxed his partner’s notes. His partner that happened to be the Vice Principal’s son, in fact.

Apparently, this method was now cheating according to their teacher, and both were brought before the Principal and given a choice. Either one of them takes a zero for the project, or they split the grade.

What do you think Bryan did?

Do you think the punishment was fair?

Update: You all know Bryan far too well, he indeed did take the zero and let his friend have the A on the paper. Which apparently shocked the teacher. Whatever, he still got a B+ in the class. And personally, I think the whole thing is bogus from beginning to end. If they can copy by hand, they should be able to copy by machine. But they shouldn’t have been able to copy at all.

This article has 12 comments

  1. Mandy

    Wow. Sounds like something that would happen when I went to high school in the 80s.

    As a former high school teacher myself, I’d love to hear the admin’s logic on how rewriting is not cheating, but xeroxing is. Presumably something along the lines of, you learn when you copy it by hand, but you don’t when you just photocopy.

    To me, the punishment seems ridiculous, but I can’t imagine what Bryan did. I’d love to hear that he laughed in the principal’s face while he tore the paper in half, but I’m imagining it was something less dramatic.

  2. Autumn

    Wow, OK I’ll take a shot that Brian took the zero. Because he felt responsible as it was his idea.
    I in no way think that the punishment was fair. In fact I don’t think any punishment was in order. He didn’t lie and say he had written it, that would be considered cheating. I think the teacher should have said “No that doesn’t work, you need to write it in your own handwriting at least”

  3. Rhiannon

    I’m guessing Bryan took the zero. And, the punishment seems ridiculous. It reminds me of in my stats class how there were answers in the back of the book, which most people used, and it was fine as long as they “showed their work”

    Also, if this makes zero sense, it’s the vicodin, I promise 🙂

  4. James

    I was there for the story, so I know what he did. I won’t divulge that. But, I do know that when Bryan Xerox’d the paper, the last page was indeed a copy of his ass.

  5. The Casual Perfectionist

    Hmmm…this is interesting. At least when you write it out (even if you are copying, since copying was apparently allowed), you are retaining some of it. Photocopying is just photocopying and doesn’t facilitate the learning process.

    That being said, if I were the teacher, I would have told Brian to re-write it in his own hand, or it wouldn’t count.

    I think the punishment is weird, and I’m not sure what he would have done. If he had a “massive A” in the class a 50% grade or a 0 probably won’t have hurt his over all grade much.

    That’s what he gets for being lazy! 😉 (Just kidding!!)

    I’m curious to see how this turned out!

  6. WiredMonkey

    Okay, first of all I’ll start by saying that is a huge, steaming pile of B.S. from the school. If copying the notes verbatim is acceptable, why is a facsimile of said notes somehow “verboten”?

    Brian seems like a standup guy, from what I can guess…but I’m guessing he took the zero to make a statement. Not that institutions like that HEAR said statements all that often…but I know I’d do that in the same spot. I think it goes without saying whether or not I feel the punishment was just. I don’t. For a first time infraction such as that, it should have been a warning, and an explanation as to why the photocopy was somehow not good enough, but copying verbatim was acceptable. Again…what a load of BS. 😛

  7. painted maypole

    obviously from the get go there should only have to have been one set of notes from each pairing – the teacher clearly didn’t like being called on his or her nonsensicle rule, and of course, the punishment was not fair

    except now that I see that the last page was a copy of his ass. that is taking it a tad bit too far. 😉

  8. mothergoosemouse

    Knowing Bryan, he took the zero.

    I suppose the punishment’s fair, but I’m not sure there’s a crime here.

  9. Anonymous

    A load of crap either way. Was the assignment pennenship or what???

  10. Anonymous

    I think he should have had the opportunity to re-copy them by hand instead of taking a Zero. Copying by hand is a better learning process than photocopying because you are having to read, process and re copy each word individually. It forces one to read something. Photocopying does not. But yeah, the punishment seems too harsh.

  11. CaraBee

    This punishment seems awfully harsh. I suspect Brian took the 0, although I don’t know him so it’s difficult to make a call like that. I wonder if the original intent was that both partners write up their own notes but that it became accepted practice for one partner to simply copy the other’s because it doesn’t really make sense that they turn in identical hand copied notes.

  12. Kimberly

    Life is full of these ridiculous technicalities. I agree with you – copying is copying regardless, but your husband certainly did the admirable thing.

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