The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1894 Friday, 6 October 2000.
Date: Thursday, 5 Oct 2000 19:20:19 EDT
Subject: RE: Student Essays/Topics
>Philip Weller's posting raises a question which has often intrigued me -
>in the UK we customarily set essay topics in the form, say, of a
>quotation from a critic (real or imagined) with the invitation to
>discuss it. I have found, over the years, that students on various JYA
>programmes from the US and Canada almost never answer the question as
>formulated, but rewrite it into something more generalised. So, for
>example, a question on colonialism in the Tempest might quote Paul
>Brown, or Meredith Skura or another influential critic - but the answer
>I get just puts 'Colonialism in the Tempest' at its head, and refuses
>the specific 'take' of the critical quotation.
>Is this just an example of different educational practice? Is this,
>perhaps, why plagiarism from web sites is a bit more difficult to bring
>off in the UK? (Though, of course, plagiarism of various kinds is an
>ever-present and growing problem.)
I'm not sure about our Canadian friends, but I suspect U.S. students who
refuse to answer the question as asked are simply following the lead of
their political leaders. One does not have to tune in long to any
political debate to appreciate how adept our politicos have become at
answering the question they are asked with the answer to the question
they would like to have been asked.