Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My PSC Made Me Plagiarize

In my email this morning was a message from Hewlett-Packard with the header, “4 Ways to Help with Homework using an HP All-in-One.”

Why would they send this message to a childless sexageneration? Because I gave them my email when I registered my Hp PSC 1510, that’s why. They probably spammed everybody who’d registered online. That many of us aren’t helping kids with homework is immaterial.

I wouldn’t mind the spam so much, if HP didn’t suggest using the PSC to plagiarize. They didn’t actually use the word “plagiarize,” but the message was clear:

English - beyond book reports. Create stunning, full color book reports, scan entire passages or use specialty papers to create striking report covers with your HP All-in-One Printer.

As a retired middle school English teacher, former adjunct college instructor of freshman grammar and comp, occasional judge of writing contests, and co-chair of an annual student essay contest that had over 175 entries last year, I’d like to explain why HP’s suggestion (“Scanning features allow kids to scan in eye-catching images, photos, and book jackets.”) is a bad idea.

  1. It’s plagiarism. Those scanned “images, photos, and book jackets” are copyrighted material. Students who appropriate them for their own use are stealing.
  2. It’s unnecessary. Teachers aren’t impressed with extra pages of non-student generated work. We’re interested in content—specifically what the student actually thought. All those pages of “eye-catching images” are just more weight for an already overburdened teacher to lug home to grade. Teachers don’t care about “full color.” We want to see a nicely formatted document in Times New Roman 12. Hewlett-Packard, however, cares about full-color so it can $ell more color cartridge$ and $pecialty paper$.
  3. It stifles creativity. Gotta do a report and don’t have much to say? Pad it out with some images grabbed from the web. Why stop at images? Search one of the free essay websites for the whole book report! If you’re gonna plagiarize, go all the way. Why scan an entire passage when you can scan the whole thing? Sheesh! Every semester, I‘d have a freshman or two actually try to pass off a plagiarized essay. Finding the original material was a simple matter of Googling key phrases.
The PSC is great for basic printing, making copies of original work, scanning family photos, and even printing photos right from the camera. It doesn’t deserve to be an accomplice in literary crime.

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