I have been in academia for some time. Long enough to know that telling anyone about the bad things about plagiarizing is counterproductive. We all know why plagiarizing is bad, but not many know what they are missing out when they do. I had the privilege of finding out with a student of mine, Lina.
Lina was no ordinary student. Not ordinary by my standards at least. You see, Lina was
forced strongly encouraged to study by the government. She has been a teacher for 15 years, but due to new policies, she was asked to return to university to complete her Bachelor's in education.
The problem however was that Lina was a mother of two. As such, amidst the pressures of completing her studies, she had to teach in school and care for her children. The pressure was immense which was why one day, I caught her plagiarizing her work. I wondered what prompted me to run her work through a plagiarism checker, but I did and was shocked to find that over 80% of her work was plagiarized.
It was rather awkward for me to confront Lina. I was 10 years younger than she was and there I was, someone with no children back then confronting someone who had too much on her plate. She explained that it was too difficult for her to cope but she did not want to fail as well. Failing in her opinion would make her a bad role model for her students. Thus, her only option, she thought, was to plagiarize. I explained to her that passing was not the only goal and spoke of what completing her work without plagiarizing meant. Thus, begun our long journey of learning to not plagiarize.
The first lesson in our journey was to enjoy the journey. This was easier said than done. Man, was it difficult. I remember guiding Lina once through her research project when she stopped me and asked to leave. I asked what was more important than her work? She replied, "To breastfeed my child." I learnt that the journey was difficult and not easy for her. For some who chose to plagiarize, they would rather not do it, but circumstances sometimes do not work in their favor.
As her lecturer, I tried my best to walk with her, guide her and made sure that she earned her certification. In return, I would take her call and emails anytime of the day. As much as I have learnt how difficult it is to be a parent and study, Lina found out and learnt much about different teaching skills. Teaching skills that made her class more interesting and fun.
I believe that if anyone chooses to not plagiarize and put in the hard work to create something, they will learn new things. Things that help them break free from the stagnation in their career and even creativity. However, learning to better oneself is nothing compared to what comes next.
The Finish Line
On graduation day, you can tell between those who earned their degree and those who do not. To those who have put in the hard work, you will see them strolling proudly on stage to receive their scroll. Some would even shed tears of joy as they see the fruits of their labor.
For those who manage to easily get a degree, you will see them strolling onto stage as if it was just another day. Some even would choose not to turn up on graduation day, claiming that 'it was nothing'. Not all of those who care little for their graduation are bad. In fact, some are just blessed with the intellect to earn a pass, and may not have necessarily plagiarized. However, I would choose to be the one who happily stroll on stage to claim the prize which I have put so much effort into.
Lina was one of those who strolled proudly on stage to claim that scroll which she worked so hard for. It may not have meant much for some of her friends, but it certainly meant a lot to her. The lesson that we both have learnt from this is that, when anyone plagiarizes, they rob from two people. The first is the one who created the work which they plagiarize. The second is from themselves as they have robbed themselves off the joy of savoring the fruits of their labor. A feeling that is akin to victoriously crossing the finishing line.
I was inspired to write this not as a lecture but to any teacher or Steemian dealing with people who plagiarize. I understand that some of us do have difficult situations like Lina, but if you can, do take some time to enjoy that journey of completing something. It could be a project or an article that you are working on. This is because I am sure that it won't be long before you are rewarded for your hard work. Strive, hustle and Steem on.