"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Book Review: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

"I wish...to set some investigations...afloat...; and should they lead to a confirmation of my principles...the Rights of Women may be respected, it it be fully proved that reason calls for this respect, and loudly demands JUSTICE for one half of the human race."

200 hundred years ago, Mary Wollstonecraft, the English women's rights pionner, published her immortal work: "A Vindication of the rights of Women." In it she placed much of the blame for women's inferior political, intellectual, and social status on "faulty education."

Mary Wollstonecraft
(1759-1797) lived during and participated in at least two revolutions. The revolutions and reformations of the 16th and 17th centuries created a situation unparalleled in medieval times. Reason became the preferred method for settling matters.

Wollstonecraft is considered to be the first feminist philosopher. She rejects the "constraints of unquestioned tradition and spurious authority." She challenges the traditional ethical and social understanding of women.

The inferior treatment of women provides the background to Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).

Vindication is about the rights of women. She thinks that women are endowed with the natural rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For all the ENLIGHTENMENT's promise, women continued to be oppressed members of society. Enlightenment thinkers believed that only men were capable of reason. Women were considered irrational. Women were degraded as persons, their liberties were restricted, and they were oppressed members of the Society.

Wollstonecraft asserts that women are fully rational but they are not helped by the system of education. Women are disadvantaged by a poor system of education that prevents women from succeding in the society.

Clark & Poortenga wrote in The Story of Ethics (2003) that Western philosophy is littered with thinkers who view women as deficient.

Wollstonecraft reminds us that "prejudicial views of persons can, under the guise of virtue, be used by those in power to reinforce and perpetuate injustice" (Groenhout & Goi).

Wollstonecraft wrote:
Reason and experience convince me that the only method of leading women to fulfil their peculiar duties, is to free them from all restraint by allowing them to participate in the inherent rights of mankind. Make them free, and they will quickly become wise and virtuous." (Vindication, 175)

This passage should be applied to all human beings!

I perceive that education is what we need in Africa, Middle East, and Asia in order to improve the social order. The emancipation of women is based on the right to education. Boys and girls should be schooled together and share a curriculum rich in experiential learning particularly in scientific studies and Critical thinking literature.

Wollstonecraft perceived education as improvement of the individual and improvement of the social order. The new educational paradigm which she envisioned was one based on
reason and education.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

An unexamined life was not worth living

Socrates said that an unexamined life was not worth living.

I believe that the key mission of every human being is to develop reflective and critical thinking skills.

Nawal el-Saadawi, in her book The Hidden Face of Eve (1980), has battled against the injustices of religious fundamentalism and a male-dominated society, even enduring imprisonment for promoting her cause.

The old maxim that "Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, and Baghdad reads" is no longer true!

In Egypt, where even the Tales from the 1001 Nights is banned, the government censors most new fiction.

Censorship has followed the free expressions of men and women in Algeria, China, Iran, South Africa.

In her novel Women of Algiers in their Apartment, Assia Djebar takes the first steps towards reconciling the effects of the postcolonial world with the history of women’s participation in the struggle for Algerian independence

She said that , "Women of Algiers are indeed in their apartment but the apartment that they are in is one that is erected with social boundaries, the concrete of mental asylums, compulsory veiling, and reinvention of Maghreb Islam."

Leila said it only yesterday: I was a voiceless prisoner. A little
like certain women of Algiers today, you see them going around
outside without the ancestral veil, out of fear of the new and
unexpected situations, they become entangled in other veils,
invisible but very noticeable ones… Me too: for years after
Barberousse I was still carrying my own prison inside of me. (48)

Women of Algiers in their Apartment by Assia Djebar

Amos Oz

Duiker wrote the following in World History: From 1500

The internationally renowned novelist Amos Oz is a vocal supporter of peace with the Palestinians. Oz is a member of Peace Now and the author of political tract titled Israel, Palestine, and Peace.

In a 2002 interview, Oz accused both Ariel Sharon and Yasir Arafat of being "immovable, handcuffed to the past and to each other." With the Arabs feeling victimized by colonialism and the Jews by Nazi Germany, each side believes that it alone is the rightful proprietor of ancient Palestine.

Oz has refused to serve as standard-bearers for Zionism and is speaking out on sensitive national issues. He denounces the following:

Israel continues to violate international law, by failing to:

1) end its occupation of all Arab lands and to dismantle the Apartheid wall;

2) grant full equality to Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and

3) respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

For Oz, the only solution is compromise, which, however unsatisfactory for both sides, is preferrable to mutual self-destruction.

I believe like Amos Oz on the necessity of two nation states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace. He believes and I believe that Israel must cede land and give support to Palestinian refugees.

Amos Oz said, 'If every last Palestinian refugee was settled in the West Bank and Gaza, it would still be less crowded than Belgium'

Aida Edemariam wrote on the Guardian (2009),

"Over the years, Amos Oz has developed a formulation that he repeats like a refrain: the situation in the Middle East is "a clash between right and right - the Palestinians are in Palestine because they have no other place in the world. The Israeli Jews are in Israel for the same reason - they have no other place in the world. This provides for a perfect understanding and a terrible tragedy."

Adept of the world of reading

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote

I dreamed that I floated at will in the great Ether, and I saw this world floating also not far off, but diminished to the size of an apple. Then an angel took it in his hand and brought it to me and said, "This must thou eat." And I ate the world.

Hirsch asserted that poetry and stories are a way of knowing, of acknowledging the world,...for honoring our solitudes, and for recognizing our interdependencies.

The reader of poetry is a kind of pilgrim setting out, setting forth. Reading poetry, reading books is an "adventure in renewal, a creative act, a perpetual beginning, a rebirth of wonder."

Poetry is a way of inscribing that feeling of awe.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Lyrics and Critical Thinking

According to Heather Coffey, "Critical literacy is the ability to read texts in an active, reflective manner in order to better understand power, inequality, and injustice in human relationships. For the purposes of critical literacy, text is defined as a “vehicle through which individuals communicate with one another using the codes and conventions of society."

Accordingly, songs, novels, conversations, pictures, movies, etc. are all considered texts.

Buffalo Soldiers

Nearly sixteen months after the end of the Civil War, Section 3 of an Act of Congress entitled "An Act to increase and fix the Military Peace Establishment of the United States" authorized the formation of two regiments of cavalry composed of "colored" men.

For over two decades, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments conducted campaigns against American Indian tribes on a Western Frontier that extended from Montana in the Northwest to Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in the Southwest.

"The 1983 song, Buffalo Soldier is another human rights and social justice song by Bob Marley that was inspired by actual events.

Bob Marley's song, Buffalo Soldier pays tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of these heroic soldiers but is also critical of the American government's policies and practices with respect to slavery, Manifest Destiny and the genocide of Native Americans.

He sings, "...There was a Buffalo Soldier In the heart of America Stolen from Africa, brought to America Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival..."

Sadly, Bob Marley's life was cut short by cancer and he died on May 11, 1981 at the age of 36. A prolific song writer, Marley's music has influenced numerous artists while his message of love, equality, and empowerment has inspired people and movements around the world.

As he said, "...Music gonna teach dem a lesson..."


Armenia: Europe or Asia?

The Armenian Genocide was carried out by the "Young Turk" government of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916 (with subsidiaries to 1922-23).

One and a half million Armenians were killed, out of a total of two and a half million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

The Turkish government today denies that there was an Armenian genocide and claims that Armenians were only removed from the eastern "war zone."

Historically Armenia and Azerbaijan have been long associated with Asia and the Middle East.

In recent years some sources now consider them to be more closely aligned with Europe based on their modern economic and political trends.

Both are similar to the former CIS country of Georgia, now included as part of Europe.

Armenia is a mountainous, landlocked country, on the southeastern edge of Europe, and at the gateway to the Middle East, and all of Asia.

That valuable geographical position for potential trade between continents became a curse of sorts. Over the centuries it was invaded and controlled by various empires, including the Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian, and Ottoman.

Incorporated into the former Soviet Union in 1920, it finally, along with Azerbaijan, gained independence in 1991.

Regional fighting with its neighbor (Azerbaijan) over land control bloodied both countrys, and a cease-fire agreement was finally reached in 1994.

The local economy still suffers from the long-term ramifications of war, an Azerbaijan fuel blockade, and a very severe 1988 earthquake that destroyed much of its infrastructure, and killed over 55,000 of its citizens.


The Kurds Subjugated by Neighboring People

A largely Sunni Muslim people with their own language and culture, most Kurds live in the generally contiguous areas of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Syria – a mountainous region of southwest Asia generally known as Kurdistan ("Land of the Kurds").

Before World War I, traditional Kurdish life was nomadic, revolving around sheep and goat herding throughout the Mesopotamian plains and highlands of Turkey and Iran. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire after the war created a number of new nation-states, but not a separate Kurdistan. Kurds, no longer free to roam, were forced to abandon their seasonal migrations and traditional ways.

The 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which created the modern states of Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, was to have included the possibility of a Kurdish state in the region.

After the overthrow of the Turkish monarchy by Kemal Ataturk, Turkey, Iran and Iraq each agreed not to recognize an independent Kurdish state.

Turkey continues its policy of not recognizing the Kurds as a minority group.

After the Kurds supported Iran in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein retaliated, razing villages and attacking peasants with chemical weapons.

Despite a common goal of independent statehood, the 20 million or so Kurds in the various countries are hardly unified.

From 1994-98, two Iraqi Kurd factions – the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Jalal Talabani – fought a bloody war for power over northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, currently waging a guerrilla insurgency in southeastern Turkey, has rejected the Iraqi Kurds' decision to seek local self-government within a federal Iraq.

The PKK believes any independent Kurdish state should be a homeland for all Kurds.

The Washington Post Company (1999)

Who are the Kurds?

15 million to 20 million Kurds live in a mountainous area straddling the borders of Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. About 8 million live in southeastern Turkey.

The Kurds are a non-Arabic people who speak a language related to Persian. Most adhere to the Sunni Muslim faith.

1920: After World War I, when the Ottoman Empire is carved up, the Kurds are promised independence by the Treaty of Sevres.

1923: Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk rejects the treaty, and Turkish forces put down Kurdish uprisings in the 1920s and 1930s. The Kurdish struggle lies dormant for decades.

1978: Abdullah Ocalan, one of seven children of a poor farming family, establishes the Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, which advocates independence.

1946: Kurds succeed in establishing the republic of Mahabad, with Soviet backing. But a year later, the Iranian monarch crushes the embryonic state.

1999: Two rival Iraqi Kurdish factions, one led by Mustafa Barzani's son Massoud, the other by Jalal Talabani, broker a peace deal; goal is for Kurdish area to become part of a democratic Iraq.

SOURCES: Reuters, World Almanac, staff reports

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Fiction, Fiction, & Fiction...

Fiction is nothing less than the subtlest instrument for self-examination and self-display that mankind has invented yet. Psychology and x-rays bring up the portentous shadows, and demographics and stroboscopic photography do some fine breakdowns, but for the full parfum and effluvia of being human, for feathery ambiguity and rank facticity, for the air and iron, fire and spit of our daily mortal adventure there is nothing like fiction: it makes sociology look priggish, history problematical, the film media two-dimensional, and the National Enquirer as silly as last week’s cereal box.

---John Updike from “The Importance of Fiction” in Esquire

Fiction is about life, and life is messy.

It is important to read and critically think about a myriad of issues.

“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.” ---Virginia Woolf

Amnesty Class Circle Justice

One finger cannot lift a pebble

“Everybody is part of the healing, including people from the community-anybody who cares.

But healing is much harder than standard punishment. Healing requires taking responsibility for your actions.”

“If we can’t find solutions, we all fail, we all share the guilt, and we all pay a terrible price.”

We have learned about our role in the community. We have learned how our choices impact others around us. And we have learned about the importance of making positive choices.

From The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities

Native American Ten Commandments

1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect

2. Remain close to the Great Spirit

3. Show great respect for your fellow beings

4. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind

5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed

6. Do what you know to be right

7. Look after the well-being of Mind and Body

8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good

9. Be truthful and honest at all times

10. Take full responsibility for your actions

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Gifts of Poetry

Edward Hirsh uses the metaphor of a message in a bottle to describe poetry's relationship to its readers. The poet "crafts it, sends it out on unknown waters of time and place, and hopes that it will find readers and generate a response."

Hirsch takes the analogy further by claiming, "The reader completes the poem, in the process bringing to it his or her own past experiences."

Frost claimed that a poem "begins in delight and ends in wisdom." Frost's poems are indeed transformative. The poet's ultimate goal is expression and communication.

Frost's poems offer this gift of fresh knowledge. "Nothing Gold Can Stay" (Frost, 1995, p. 206) consists of an eight-line stanza (an octet) and written in aphoristic language. He gives us astute insights about nature, humanity, and the universe.

"Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay."

Some adolescent readers think that poetry provides them knowledge, clarity, comfort, and truth. We had a poetry slam in our middle and high school and we have witnessed how imaginative and creative they are! Poetry helps teacher develop imaginative and creative students and educators know how difficult is the task to raise these qualities into students.

Jay Parini writes, "Poets articulate thoughts and feelings in ways that clarify both; they hold a mirror of sorts up to the mind if not the world, and their poems reflect our deepest imaginings."

Jay Parini suggests that poetry finds words "that connect past to present, thereby transforming the present reality from something intolerable to something one can live with, even love."

Do Microfinance really alleviate poverty?

Microfinance institutions exists to help the world's poor afford basic human services, such as education and health care, as well as to start their own business.

But do microfinance really alleviate poverty?

I think that high-interest microloans create unfair debt burdens that exploit the poor while doing little to help them achieve self-sufficiency. Incredible levels of debt are accrued by impoverished individuals when they accept high-interest loans from microlenders.

I have read many stories about women who receive microloans sometimes must repay the debt even when family members have robbed them of the money.
Critics of microcredit assert that large numbers of microfinance "borrowers never get out of debt, or that they misuse loans to buy consumer goods.

Thomas Dichter, a 20-year industry veteran, became disillusioned with microfinance and wrote that poverty lending is not good for investors or borrowers. "Classical microcredit start-ups are not working," says Dichter. "There's a feel-good factor for lenders, but no solid evidence that [microcredit] makes a difference, either in developing the economy or reducing poverty."

The poorest people face high payments but experience few-quality-of life improvements. For example, Anita Edward, a Nigerian salon owner who has borrowed money from LAPO three times, has said that, although LAPO charges less interest than other MFIs, and will help her when banks cannot (or will not), she resents the loans' forced savings component. In one instance, she had to keep $100 of a $666 loan in a savings account while paying interest on the full amount. She told the New York Times, "That is not O.K. by me. It is not fair. They should give you the full money."

I think that microfinance should be regulated and reformed. It needs oversight and transparency. Data are most of the time not currently availaible to the public. More reliable data are needed about the number of microfinance institutions worldwide, how much money they lend to borrowers and how well their borrowers do.

The debt burden placed on the poor by microloans causes a great social and economic suffering.

Microfinance." Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 14 June 2010. Web. 19 June 2010. .

Friday, 18 June 2010

My book review: Beloved by Toni Morrison

I have enjoyed reading Morrison's book called Beloved.

In Beloved, the remarkable novel for which Toni Morrison won the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature, “we three” represent Sethe, Denver, and Beloved and they make up an inverse Trinity in the book. The three women become a trinity of Mother, Daughter, and Daughter-Divinity. So, the triangle of the mother, the daughter, and the ghost is an inversion of the religious Trinity of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.
In contrast to the religious trinity which represents the symbol of perfect love, the trio in the book represents an unstable trinity. “We three” make up an unhealthy trio for the living characters.

Denver thinks: “You are my sister”. Sethe thinks: “You are my daughter”. Beloved thinking of Sethe says, “You are my face; you are me." According to John Limon, “Morrison is drawing out the implications of a female trinitarianism: mother, daughter, holy ghost."

Sethe is living with her daughter Denver after her two sons “Howard and Buglar had run away by the time they were thirteen years old." The two sons have fled because the house was haunted. Therefore, Sethe and her reclusive eighteen years old daughter Denver were living by themselves in the haunted two-story house at 124 Bluestone Road outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Futhermore, this powerful unhealthy trio which consists of Sethe Suggs, Denver Suggs, and Beloved forms a trinity that drives Paul D Garner away. He was persuaded that Beloved was somehow preventing him from being able to sleep in Sethe’s bed. One night, Beloved seeks Paul D out and she asks him “to touch” her “on the inside part” and “to call her name."

Although she promises to leave after he calls her name, she instead forces herself on him. Paul D “trembled like Lot’s wife” and he realized the immorality of his act. He has not been able to resist to the temptation. He has betrayed Sethe and he has dissolved the bond between himself, Sethe, and Denver. Paul D who was trying to ease the tension by taking the two women to the carnival has coupled with Sethe’s unstable daughter. Thus, Toni Morrison reveals the ‘ghost strength’ by proving her ability to overpower a reluctant adult male.

The trinity is once more broken because Beloved is demanding constant attention from Sethe. Denver remarks that “it became clear that they were only interested in each other." But when “Sethe spit up something she had not eaten and it rocked Denver like gunshot”, now it was obvious for Denver “that her mother could die”. “Whatever was happening, it only worked with three-not two-…she knew she had to ask somebody for help". Beloved claimed to have come out of a yearning to reunite with her mother. But Sethe became obsessed with Beloved to the point that she looses her job. As a result, the healthiest character of the “we three” will leave the trio to seek for help. Finally, the ghost ‘has disintegrated into nothingness’ and “they forgot her like a bad dream."

Toni Morrison “experiments to voice the voiceless” ghost, giving “flesh to the long dead in the pages of her work."

According to Fultz, “in Beloved, slavery and its effects are too complex to render a linear, mimetic narrative, and so Morrison moves between past and present, between consciousness and unconsciousness” (Fultz 2003).

Middle School Pledge

The Middle school students and I have read this pledge every morning before the start of our lessons.

This pledge has promoted our social and emotional learning. I think that people cannot succeed without social and emotional skills.

Social and emotional skills will help students become more resistant to the lure of drugs, teen pregnancy, violent gangs, and dropping out of school.

This pledge has helped us create a learning community which fosters acceptance, generosity, and mutual respect.

Pledge to Myself and to the Universe

This day has been given to me fresh and clear

I can either use it or throw it away

I promise myself I shall use this day to its fullest

Realizing it can never come back again

I realize this is my life to use or throw away

I make myself what I am

I pledge allegiance to the world

To cherish every living thing

To care for Earth, Sea, and Air

With Peace and Freedom everywhere!

by Steve VandeGrind, Teacher

Basic or Primal religions

Basic or primal religions assert that the world is both spiritual and material. The rites, and rituals of Native American religions and African religions demonstrate the unity of the spiritual and material world.

The Native American practices, rites, and rituals are “a means of renewing the partnership between humans and the spirit world” and “they are performed through dancing, singing, fasting, ordeals, and bathing.” (Hopfe 2007, p.35)

Young persons before puberty start a period of fasting and meditating in order to have a vision. They are separated from the tribe and the main goal is to seek a vision. The vision can be a person or an animal and it will guide them for their whole life. If the vision is an animal, it is called totemism. The Sun Dance is a renewal celebration. This dance is used to communicate with the divine. They fast and dance in a lodge.

Another important ritual is the hunting ceremony. Native American will perform a dance before hunting. The tribes will act out a hunt in a hope that the real hunt will be successful in reality.

Native American religions will use tobacco and the sacred pipe to perform some religious ceremonies. Tobacco is the incense which will help them reach the spirit world. This tobacco called Peyote is a strong drug which causes hallucinations and visions.

African religions have animistic faiths. They believe in nature spirits and they worship ancestors. They make sacrifices and offerings to the dead because the ancestors are the link with the spiritual world and they can help their descendants to gain prosperity, health, and fecundity.

Sacrifices are a way to “establish a communion between the living and the spirits.” (Hopfe 2007, p.57) African people offer prayers and sacrifices through ceremonies to the spirit of the sky, the earth, and the waters.

The human cycle of birth, growing up, marriage and death is marked with religious practices. When the baby is born, the naming ceremony is followed by the exposure of the child to the moon (Hopfe 2007, p.58). The passage from childhood to adulthood is accompanied with many rituals. They have to go through physical ordeals, fasting, and circumcision.

The traditional healers heal the bodies and they cast out demons. The spiritual curer will use his or her spiritual powers to fight the evil spirits. Ceremonies which include songs and sacrifices will help the curer to drive away the evil spirit.

Basic religions have “an animistic understanding of life." They use amulets, charms, magic, and superstitions to chase the evil spirits and to protect themselves from enemies. Through rituals, ceremonies, and practices the African religions and Native American religions want to restore and maintain the natural balance of the world.


Emotions have physical aspects and psychological aspects. All human beings have emotions and according to Eric Jansen “emotions are cross cultural-the same all over the world.”

Every time I set a foot in the learning center where I teach adults to read and write I always have the same feeling, the feeling of being the longed-for. I feel comfortable within these eager learners. I feel happy and glad to be with them. I feel like they are a part of my family. After my departure I still think about their laughter which they especially have when they are very amused or happy about my miming. Most of the time, I need the use of movements and gestures in order to explain a new word or tell a story.

The girls and the women are honest and frank. Indeed I feel serene and peaceful among them.

I do feel their love and enthusiasm and the most important of all is their cheerfulness. I forget about all the tension of the day and every time I feel more joy and happiness in my heart.

On Thursday, they were fifteen women waiting for me under the main tree. They were all sitting very patiently, cross legged and with a big smile on their face. The look of their blistered feet which had to walk few miles before reaching the center made me feel really ashamed of the easy life I live.

Usually they will not enter the classroom without me. Therefore I was not surprised about their presence outside and I did not suspect anything.

They took me by the hand and we entered the classroom. The warmth of their hands communicates trust and tenderness at the same time. Just looking at their eyes was telling more than what was hidden in their heart. The women were standing with their hands on their hips, feet apart, and their head tilted. All these nonverbal cues show me that there are ready to cooperate and work hard. I meet them once a week and every time the younger one welcomes me by holding my hands to show me their acceptance and love.

You could tell by the tone of their voices that something was going on. Their voices sounded happy and excited and their faces were enlightened with pure joy.

After looking at the blackboard, I understood what all the excitement was about. All of them have written a poem with their most beautiful handwriting on the blackboard. At this moment, I felt a deep kinship with these students who find joy in reading and writing. If a woman answers correctly, they will encourage her with a round of applause. Once a week after our session, we clap hands, we dance, and we sing.

I must admit that I am not used to sit down and write about emotions. Before I sleep at night I do think about the day but I never sit and write about the feelings and emotions I have. Emotions and feelings are inside us but they need a trigger to be sparked.

I am happy that the one-day record feelings helped me to analyze and express my emotions.

(I encourage all the middle school and high school students to do that ;)

Classroom Debate about PLAGIARISM

The Oxford English Dictionary defines plagiarism as “the wrongful appropriation or purloining, and publication as one’s own, of the ideas, or the expression of the ideas...of another”.

The word plagiarism is derived from Latin and means “one who abducts the child or slave of another”. Plagiarism is a wrong act. It involves both stealing someone else’s ideas and neglecting to include references for sources in our paper.

In my classroom, we have used examples of plagiarism that helped us understand what plagiarism is really about.

If a student copy sentences from textbooks or journal articles without putting the passage in quotes, he or she will be accused of plagiarism. Students must enclose their words inside quotation marks or they can put their words in a block of indented, single-spaced text.

In January 1982, Gabrielle Napolitano, a senior student at Princeton University, plagiarized the majority of her 12-page term paper in a Spanish class from a book in the library. She did not include the quotations for many verbatim quotations and she did not include citations in the text for some paraphrased material. The Princeton University Committee on Discipline in February 1982 recognized the plagiarism and the recommended punishment was to delay her bachelor’s degree for one year. (Napolitano v. Princeton University)

Students must acknowledge any sentence or phrase which is not their original work. And any material which is paraphrased or summarized must also be acknowledged in a footnote or in the text.

The College Judiciary Committee considered a case of academic dishonesty in a course taken last year. A student was found guilty of plagiarism in a final paper for a seminar. The paper contained verbatim passages not put in quotations marks and improper citations of paraphrases. The committee recommended that the student receive no credit for the seminar.

Students should read the material several times to make sure that they understand it. Then, they close the author’s work and they should try to explain the passage with their own words. After they have finished paraphrasing the passage, they should make sure to cite the original.

Students who buy a paper from a research service or a term paper mill will be accused of fraud. These papers form a research service are too good and it is easy for the teacher to compare the student’s writing and the paper which has been bought or downloaded. The mill sites will make their paper available on the web and it is easy for any student to copy it. Teachers should visit some of the sites (Termpapers.com or “Internet Paper Mills” at http://www.coastal.edu./library/mills2.htm and show the students that these sites are known by all the educational staff.

The license of a physician to practice medicine in Massachusetts was revoked. When this physician was a student in 1978, two years before earning his M.D. degree, he submitted four plagiarized articles for publication. The Board of Registration in Medicine found in 1998 that this plagiarism showed a “lack of good moral character which is required to practice medicine”. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts affirmed this revocation. (Alsabti v. Board of Registration in Medicine)
Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else’s work as your own. Works means any intellectual output, and typically includes text, data, images, sound or performance. (Office of Academic Appeals & Regulation 2005).

Therefore, students must learn how to avoid plagiarism. They have to present their own work and use their own words. They have to allow themselves enough time to research the assignment. They should keep careful track of their sources, quote accurately, paraphrase carefully, and do not buy paper-mill papers. To follow these suggestions will keep the student out of trouble. A successful student who wants to graduate from college with all the honors should be aware of the rules and the laws in order not to “fail a class for cheating or plagiarizing by mistake.”