Satia Renee for The Wall Street Journal

Posted on March 5, 2013

As collegiate level online educational courses grow in number and credibility, so does the practice of cheating and plagiarism. Satia Renee, a former teaching assistant who I photographed for the story, cited a 10 percent incidence of cheating on the papers she graded for a class taught by Professor Eric Rabkin of the University of Michigan.  To read more about the counter-measures being taken, check out the WSJ story here.

While such measures may help, it seems to me that cheaters will just find a new way to cheat.  I believe that the problem lies not with the relative security of the courses and tests.  It seems to be more of a fundamental problem with the character and beliefs of the individuals doing the cheating.  Somewhere along the way, they have learned that it is better to lie and steal intellectual property from others rather than put in the hard effort themselves and accept the limit and achievement of those efforts.  Perhaps this problem is routed in the value systems instilled by parents, or the push for grades over growth and understanding in our educational system.  Perhaps the answer is just simply our flawed human nature.  I couldn’t begin to claim any full understanding of the route causes and solutions, but it does seem like we are trying to plug the holes instead of fix the damn.

I am not putting myself on any pedestal.  I have always held authority in low regard, and never accepted it from those who have not earned it in my eyes.  I have never been a big rule follower save for those that make logical, ethical or utilitarian sense in my own opinion.  That said, I have almost never cheated (almost because I do not remember my whole life nor are absolutes often true).  In my eyes, there is just something wrong with taking what you have not earned, and in the process tearing down those that have.

So, that’s my rant for the day, only vaguely related to the story at hand and portraiture below.  On a more positive note, Satia was wonderful and so were her two big awesome Siberian huskies who acted as my furry assistants for the shoot.

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