It was through clenched teeth that I read Margaret Wente’s August 2012 column “Why kids need to fail to succeed in school“. In it she interviewed Paul Tough, author of “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character” about his book and the research it is based on. Tough’s book is about the importance of character education in learning, something most educators and schools are well aware of, have been for years and make efforts to address in an overcrowded curriculum.
Wente, reactionary as always, latched on to some of Tough’s ideas and through her narrow view turned it into a polemic against children from low-income families. She went on and on about ‘grit’ and how if kids just had more ‘grit’ they could overcome their limited circumstances and learn.
Wente’s take on this was a typical, “if poor kids would just try harder” approach. It was full of the condescension of someone who is far removed from the realities of trying to learn with an empty stomach.
So it it’s been with a certain amount of Schadenfreude (not bad eh?) that I’ve been keeping up with the accusations of plagiarism levelled at Wente and the Globe & Mail’s unsuccessful efforts to handle it.
Fortunately I am kind and compassionate and willing to help. If there’s one thing that 21st Century educators know how to deal with, it is writers that copy and paste their assignments.
I therefore suggest that Wente be dealt with according to the tried and true formula used in the Ontario public school system she berates for being too soft on these sort of miscreants.
Here’s the plan:
- Run Wente’s columns through Turnitin or a similar service to determine the percentage of plagiarism in her writing.
- Have her engage in restorative justice. Meet with those she’s copied from, apologize and explain her actions (I’m willing to video stream this so that students can learn from her mistakes)
- Have her write the columns she has plagiarised again, this time with her own work. She won’t get full credit for it, but some credit is better than none.
Another problem solved by Ontario’s teachers. Ok, now where’s Dalton got to?