So this story has been around some news circles of late: The Shadow Scholar. Heard of him/her? This person earns decent money working full time as a writer for students’ college papers. That’s right. Paid to help students cheat. Grad courses too, in ALL disciplines.
But why? Because school/college isn’t about learning, it’s about grades. Yes, that old rant of mine. But hey – as long as the evidence keeps piling up… and until the system changes… there’s clearly a need to keep talking about it. Otherwise the silence will die (what does that mean? sounds like a good turn of phrase though).
This person has now written an essay explaining what he/she does, why and how he/she came to this profession. It’s sad, really, but it’s simply another indicator of how massive of a phenomenon this is.
And yes, it’s caused by a system that says “get the grades and everyone’s happy and no one asks questions.” So students chase the grades and move on. Learning? We’re not so much asking about that. What does the author say? “I’ve never had a client complain that he’d been expelled from school, that the originality of his work had been questioned, that some disciplinary action had been taken.”
And he goes on with a hard question “For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis-review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally competent research? How does that student get by you?” Well? Exactly. The SYSTEM is helping these “students’ to get by…. get the grades….. move on.
Solutions? Abandon the grades and start focusing on whether anyone is learning anything. We remember learning, right?