Right, so, I mentioned that Neddy was unhappy with his grade because he “thought he did better” on his essay than the D he earned, and I didn’t want to discuss it with him pediconference-style on my way to my next class, even though he walked right along and kept asking me to tell him what was wrong with his citation, and I kept saying “I am not discussing this right now”. Eventually, like the next day, he came to see me in my office hour.
Now, the task that Neddy’s class was set was not rocket science. It was “analyse a picture book”. Just to put that out there. We spent 2 classes talking about words and concepts for analysing illustrations, and 2 classes talking about, among other things, MLA, citation, writing paragraphs with supporting evidence in them, and ways to talk about language and vocabulary in literature.
Did Neddy’s essay show evidence of any of this? You know it did not. It was basically a list of all the things that came into his head until he got to the end of the second page, at which point he “constructed” a “works cited”, and that was it.
I spent some time explaining to Neddy that the colour of the pictures in a book is not an example of “sentence structure,” and various things of that ilk. Neddy’s response was basically to dismiss all my comments, rather as he does in class, when he comes out with something really bizarre and then when asked to explain his position, says “well, that’s what I think.” I’ve been banging on in all my classes about how, sure, literature interpretation is subjective to a degree, but that doesn’t mean you get to make shit up. You still need to support your dumbass assertions.
At one point when Neddy was contradicting me, I tried, gently to suggest that part of the problem was that he appeared “resistant to new information”. Which I then had to explain, citing examples from class (yes, the whole “kids” thing came up again, and yes, he said “well, I still don’t think you should say kids are crap”).
15 minutes went by and I was trying to wind it up because there were other students waiting to see me, but we still hadn’t got into the issue of his wildly non-standard citation for the book. The book, I need to inform you, was a SET TEXT. We had been over, in class, how to construct a works cited for this text, so I was rather startled by Neddy’s offering, which had a different publisher and date of publication than the standard, and also the words “Electronic Print” at the end.
I pointed out these flaws to Neddy, asking what “Electronic Print” meant. ”
Well, he explained, he got the book from a collection, rather than a stand alone book. I expressed mild surprise, but agreed it was plausible that such a collection existed. The book is a pretty standard children’s classic, and there are treasuries of Children’s Lit, and similar.
This, however, did not explain the use of “Electronic Print” for the medium.
Well, he explained, the thing was, he had an electronic book, rather than the physical copy. When pressed, he admitted that by “electronic book” he meant “PDF my buddy gave because he scanned the book out of the collection he had.”
Several questions popped into my head, but I asked the first one that occurred to me which was why on earth Neddy had gone to such lengths, rather than purchasing the book, which was a REQUIRED TEXT, from the bookstore. (Said book costs around $10, for those of you who are about to interrupt with a rant about textbook costs.)
Well, he explained, there were no copies of the book in the library, that he could find. Ignoring, the obvious opportunity to remark that I doubted he could find his ass with both hands, I addressed the book-buying issue directly. “This does not answer my question about why you have not bought the set texts for the class!” I said, rather emphatically. Neddy looked at me as if I were mental. Apparently, the idea that you buy required texts is some kind of crazy professorial fantasy. No one does that, dude.
Getting back, then, to the issue at hand, I asked him again to explain exactly what kind of source he had. “My buddy scanned it and sent me the PDF,” he said, and again complained that MLA wasn’t clear on how to cite such an object.
“The MLA is not in the business of supporting your piracy. That’s why.” I explained, rather forcefully (according to Sarcastic Bastard, who was in the room, and offered later colour commentary, I was getting “rather loud”.) “What you did violates copyright, and MLA is about avoiding doing stuff like that.”
Neddy was not prepared to acknowledge that he had pirated the book. “It’s just the same as if my buddy borrowed me the book.” I suggested that since borrowing the book would a) have not created a new copy and b) have not created a problem with determining the medium, as a book would have remained “Print,” that this was not actually the case. (As I am sure you recognise, dear reader, some one a little more savvy would have managed to pretend the PDF WAS the original, thus cunningly fooling me with authentic-looking citation.)
Naturally, Neddy resisted my position, at which point I started waving around the Plagiarism Police’s manifesto on Good Student Behaviour. Neddy allowed that I might have a point, but more in the manner of a person tolerating someone with a medical condition than in a true spirit of concession.
I suspect this is not over. The moral of the story is: “You, sir, are too stupid to be a pirate.”