Found Friday: More Cheating as Literate Practice

While I'm currently out of town giving a paper at the annual meeting of the SSAWW, one of the well-paid members of the research team agreed to post this installment of Found Friday. Thanks research team!

Today, for your reading pleasure, we have this to-do list, a popular genre both on campus and on the metaspencer blogging network®:

(click to make image larger than it appears)

For educators (98.3% of readers, if my focus-group interviews are correct), it may come as a bit of a shock to see the marginal-and-boxed item "copy span from Mark." If you didn't catch it the first time through, here is a close up:

And please don't even think of sending me a postcard arguing that "span" is a common term for a measured distance. I just ain't buyin' it. This list maker is, instead, a cheater. Or, attending more closely to the artifact and the mechanics of crossouts, a planned cheater.

This brings me back to my previous posts on cheating as literate practice. Who among us attends much if at all (in our writing classes) to the critical examination of copying? Clearly it is an academic practice, and clearly it is a technological practice, so why leave it unexamined? Surely there are many graphic intricacies cheaters deploy to mask their duplications, and as many complex social machinations that allow for such textual distribution.

And yet, teaching "Bartleby, the Scrivener" is probably as close as any of us come to talking about copying. In this list we see how copying is one of the ways students write clandestinely and despite our regulatory harangues.


  1. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Is it possibly "copy [S]pan[ish] [notes] from mark?"

  2. That's how I read it! :)

  3. Anonymous9:48 AM

    but copying notes isn't necessarily cheating...I'd get the notes from a companion if I had to miss class, for instance.

  4. maybe I spoke too soon ... the note reads "copy span from mark" -- so we really can't know what was intended to be copied.

    good point.

    my main interest is in copying at all, as it's fallen away as something we teach (about)