Education

Thinking Critically about Plagiarists

Plagiarism

(Photo Credit: Elllo)

After learning that students are intentionally plagiarizing my piece, “Malcolm X’s ‘The Ballot or the Bullet’: A Summary,” I immediately thought about my intellectual property rights are being violated. This, of course, arms me with the power to pursue legal actions against those guilty of intellectual property infringement (namely, copyright infringement). The work I produce at Revolutionary Paideia is copyright-protected. To use it, therefore, one must give proper credit when quoting and paraphrasing material on the site—as one must do when using any source. When they stole the content, which that’s what plagiarism is—theft, academic theft, a statement about copyright and citing content on the site was present—as it has always been.

Although I have no intention to take legal action against the students, I urge them to engage in more ethical and responsible conduct in the future. Academic dishonesty can cause you to fail an assignment, fail a course, face expulsion and legal actions, and more unfavorable consequences. Let this incidence of plagiarism serve as a true learning experience. Technology has become so sophisticated that it can help teachers to identify the sources you plagiarize. When you plagiarize, therefore, you’re wasting your time: your teachers will discover your academic theft.

Instead of attempting to deceive your teacher, devote your energies to becoming effective writers. Think of yourselves as writers. While no one is expecting you to compose breathtaking prose like James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates, we do expect you to pen your own ideas in your own voice. When you settle for plagiarism, you settle for being a cheap copy. Don’t be afraid of your own writing and your own voice. The world needs to read and hear your original thoughts; it already has an opportunity to read and hear mine.

In my over 16 years of teaching writing at the middle and high school and undergraduate and graduate levels, I have found that students who plagiarize lack confidence in themselves and their writing. Although those teaching writing, including myself and your instructor, must work harder to assist students in developing into more skilled, more confident writers, this does not excuse you from committing academic fraud. Do you really want to be a fraud? Hopefully not.

Use this period in your academic life to experiment with writing. Write without pressure. Yes, learn the fundamentals of writing, such as the stages of the writing process, grammar, mechanics, and word usage; however, don’t be afraid to complete your assignments honestly. Writing is challenging. Even Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison, author of fictional classics like The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Beloved, posits that attempting to formulate the right language to express one’s thoughts is difficult. If writing is hard for Morrison, then, of course, it’s going to be hard for you.

In Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet,” he encourages his audiences, especially his black and other ethnic minority audiences, to resist fear, including the fear of what others will think of you when you do the right and difficult thing. You had an opportunity to complete your assignment without fear but you surrendered to fear. Why? Because you believed your teacher would reject your own responses to X’s speech. If she would have rejected your responses, so what! Brother Malcolm let us know in the speech that you should stand for truth—even in the face of opposition. If you would have received a less than desirable grade, so what! At least you would have submitted your truth. Unfortunately, you submitted a lie.

Minority students, especially black students, are already expected by many white teachers (and professors) to perform poorly and in dishonorable ways. Don’t prove them right. When you use a source like my summary of X’s speech, let it fill in gaps in your knowledge but don’t submit my work or someone’s else work as your own.

By submitting a plagiarized piece to your teacher, you failed Malcolm X, your teacher, your parents, and, most importantly, yourself. You will never experience genuine success being a cheater. When you cheat, you cheat yourself.

To your teacher, I implore you to give your students another opportunity to engage with this work or another work of Malcolm X, and allow them to express themselves freely, offering them an opportunity to gain more experience and confidence employing their own voices. As educators, we need to explore more deeply the factors that lead our students to plagiarize and work tirelessly to eliminate those factors.

Let’s all commit to do better and truly honor the legacy of Malcolm X, a legacy grounded in truth and justice.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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What You Need to Know When Going Back to School as an Adult

Working Adult College Students

It’s never too late to obtain a degree, but going back to school as an adult can be difficult. As an adult, you may have many other responsibilities that your (much younger) fellow students don’t have, such as a full-time job, career or parenting responsibilities. Even if you can devote yourself entirely to being a full-time student, you may still feel like a duck out of the water. Whether you’re jumping into a four-year degree program, or you think it might be a good idea to take some online classes. Here are three things you need to know when going back to school as an adult.

Talk to an Advisor before Registering or Enrolling

As an adult, your educational needs will most likely be strictly academic rather than both academic and social. While an incoming college first-year student might benefit from living on campus and staying at one school for all four years, your best option might be to take online classes at a community college before enrolling at a four-year institution. Speaking with a college admissions counselor may help.

Also, Collegewise counselors are passionate about “creating customized plans and setting deadlines to ensure that students complete their applications and essays thoughtfully, effectively, and early.” 

You May be Exempt from Some Classes Based on Experience

Adults have the benefit of work experience that most first-year college students do not possess. Another way college admissions counseling can help you is in determining if any of your applicable work experience might exempt you from having to take certain classes. The fewer classes you have to take, the sooner you can obtain your degree and the less that degree will cost you.

It’s Going to be a Big Change

Working adults who become college students must alter the lifestyles. How often do you need to take your work home? If often, then you may find it difficult to set aside time for research and homework after you arrive home from work. Although it may seem unmanageable to work a full-time job and attend college, you can manage both. With careful time management and dedicated preparation, you can do it. Think of the goal at the end to keep yourself in high spirits, and try to enjoy the shift in the atmosphere of the classroom versus the workplace.

Remember, receiving academic advising from an experienced higher education professional is critical to a first-time student’s success. While effective college admissions counseling isn’t the sexiest topic, it can make the difference between satisfying college experience and an unsatisfying one.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Why Demanding Better Education is Paramount for Our Children

Young Children Ready For School

Arming a child with knowledge early in his or her life will position him or her for continued success. Not only does a great educational foundation provide the skills for a child to reach his or her greatest potential, but it also cultivates a better future society. Our children first learn the most from their parents, and they must lead by example to help the next generation. Parents know how significant their jobs are, but they can only do so much.

When deciding on a school for their children to attend, parents must devote serious attention to the quality of teachers and administrators at the institutions they consider for their children. Parents have a right to demand that schools create environments where students can thrive academically. Students will not, unfortunately, thrive academically in schools that don’t have effective teachers and administrators. Here are some phenomena to contemplate as you attempt to prepare your child for academic success.

Education in Early Life

It makes sense that investing in the education of a child builds a more prosperous and peaceful citizen. Those who have some kind of educational foundation are more likely to commit themselves to academic excellence and the notion of the life of the mind. A school system that continually challenges a student will lead him or her to see the value of lifelong learning. With a better education and more efficient ways of assessing our children’s abilities, more of them will feel valued. This will certainly lead to a more productive society. In children’s early learning, assist them in discovering their distinctive beliefs and worldviews. Early learning should be fostered by their own curiosity about the world, with lots of support, validation, and hints offered.

New Ways of Learning

As the saying goes, “Out with the old, in with the new.” We need to focus on alternative means of assessing our children’s academic growth. If you’ve ever taken a standardized test, you know how mind-numbingly painful it is to stay focused and regurgitate all the information you were forced to memorize. Students need new ways of being evaluated, such as oral exams or presentations. Modern schools are becoming better at employing new methods and strategies of imparting new material. Observe the ways in which your own child responds to different methods of learning, such as visual, auditory, and tactile learning, and identify ways you can address his or her needs inside and outside of the classroom.

Online Education

Online schools are increasingly becoming attractive options for parents for their children’s education. Not only are college classes held online, but entire K-12 schools are now online. These types of organizations are especially advantageous for those who don’t have easy access to a school, or children who want to be homeschooled without having their parents as teachers. Online learning also has the benefit of being directed by the student’s own curiosity. Some K-12 online schools offer field trips and community resources that allow for social engagement and community learning, as well as an individualized pace.

Conclusion

Ensuring the next generation is equipped with the tools essential for educational success is our responsibility. With some sweeping educational reforms, we can empower our children to evolve in a society where they are ready to ameliorate it persistently. Parents should lead the effort to advocate for the educational reforms necessary to improving American public schools dramatically.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

How to Make Online Schooling a Smooth Process

Online Universities

Today’s typical college student has changed dramatically in the past few decades. The traditional university student used to be the fresh high school graduate with no obligations to interfere with a full course load, but thanks to the advent of online university and college programs, current college attendees are more likely to work full-time and have family obligations competing with their class time.

Online programs offer flexibility to these students, allowing them to attend classes asynchronously from their homes at whatever time is most convenient. Despite the advances in distance education, new students still need to make adjustments to prepare for the challenges unique to working adult learners. This article strives to help make the process of beginning higher education smoother and more enjoyable.

Prepare for Virtual Interaction and Self-Guided Study

Most online courses are learner-centered, which means that the learner carries more responsibility for meeting course objectives and requirements than the instructor. The instructor is still present in an online university course, but he or she will take more of a mentor or facilitator role, while the learner will rely mostly on assigned readings, research, and interaction with fellow students and the instructor via guided discussion.

Many programs include both synchronous and asynchronous communication to make this work. Discussion boards, shared websites, wikis, and email are forms of asynchronous contact where the individuals can communicate in different places at different times.

A web chat room or video conference enables students and instructors to interact synchronously, where they are all together at the same time despite being in different locations. Learners who are not used to this new environment often adjust readily during the first week of class when the assignments are focused on orienting students and encouraging them to introduce themselves and interact using the discussion methods outlined for the course.

Explore the Classroom Environment

Students in online university programs need to be familiar with the user interfaces for their online classroom environments and virtual tools provided to students by the institution. The best programs offer learners access to vast digital libraries and web resources to use for research instead of brick and mortar libraries accessible to the traditional students. The online classroom environments differ between colleges, but quality programs will provide tutorials for students before the beginning of a term.

The best way to become proficient with the user interfaces is to explore them during one’s free time and begin interacting with other students as soon as possible. Again, most courses are designed with primary activities to aid new students in adjusting to the environment.

Check Hardware, Software, and Internet Capabilities

The online university website and student handbook should provide a list of technology requirements that students are expected to meet before starting the program. This list will include the minimum hardware specifications for computers and mobile devices as well as a minimum speed for the Internet.

Students are responsible for meeting these requirements, and most instructors will expect learners to have alternatives plans in case their home Internet is not working. This could include a local cafe or library that extends access to public Internet service. Students should always obtain email and telephone contact information from their instructors to maintain contact if they do run into problems with these services.

The recent growth of online degree programs has brought unprecedented opportunities to busy working adults and parents. However, one should be prepared for the change from instructor-led to learner-centered curricula. Furthermore, new online students will want to learn how to access and use their virtual school and study tools before starting their programs.

Resources Consulted

WGU

U.S. News

KQED News

eLearning Industry

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Do Teachers’ Unions Contribute to a Decline in Public Education?

classroom-2093744_640

Being a teacher can be an exciting job. For starters, you have an opportunity to work with diverse children and teenagers. You can enjoy summers off. However, you’re also in the public eye. For example, your students and their parents can readily recognize you around town. As a government employee, your salary is a matter of public record. Perhaps, most importantly, everybody seems to think he or she can do your job. Thankfully, teachers’ unions help both teachers and the public manage these realities and keep public education from declining. Learn more below. 

What is a Teachers’ Union?

A teachers’ union is a group of employees with collective bargaining power. Essentially, this means a school district hires the union to run its schools. Through using a contract, the rights of the school district and the rights of the teachers are protected. In other words, you can think of a teachers’ union in the same way you think about your power company or cable company.

How Did Teachers’ Unions Begin?

Many people mistakenly believe teachers’ unions formed out of greed. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. Teachers’ unions allow teachers to be treated as professionals and earn a fair salary. However, teachers’ unions also protect the rights of the community. To put this in proper perspective, remember that teachers are public employees of a town or city. Without a union, a new mayor or school board could fire all teachers upon election. The teachers could then be replaced with friends of the new government and earn generous salaries as political kickbacks. The new mayor or school board could also fire all teachers with a particular political viewpoint and replace them with all conservative or liberal teachers. Teachers’ unions prevent such shenanigans from happening.

Teachers and students from California de

(Photo Credit: Politico)

Tenure and Teachers’ Unions

Many people wonder about tenure and teachers’ unions. For example, people often wonder if tenure from a teachers’ union keeps terrible teachers in the classroom. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. Tenure just means teachers have due process before termination. This prevents teachers from being fired because they supported suspending the mayor’s child or because they obtained their education degree and certification from an online higher education institution instead of an education degree and certification from the mayor’s favorite brick-and-mortar higher education institution. Tenure prevents teachers from being fired for supporting a Republican or Democratic candidate. However, it is possible to fire a tenured teacher. All tenure does is make sure that firing is done correctly to prevent local governments from removing teachers unfairly.

Do Teachers’ Unions Contribute to a Decline in Public Education?

All of the above questions can help us find an answer to this tricky question. After understanding what teachers’ unions do and why they were formed, we can see that they certainly help protect public education. For example, teachers’ unions make sure teachers are treated as professionals. They also supply educational consistency in a community by making sure all teachers aren’t fired and replaced each election. Teachers’ unions keep the schools running smoothly through contracts that set clear expectations. In short, it’s easy to see how teachers’ unions have been elevating public education through budget cuts and difficult political climates.

After people realize teachers’ unions aren’t as terrible as some people say, honest questions do arise regarding how these unions can be ameliorated. For starters, teachers’ unions can make the standards for joining them more rigorous. Improving these standards can strengthen teacher quality and the effectiveness of teachers’ unions. If teachers’ unions improve in these areas, they will be able to aid in serving and protecting students even more than they do today.

Works Consulted 

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/06/11/does-tenure-protect-bad-teachers-or-good-schools/tenure-is-a-guarantee-of-due-process-to-prevent-capricious-firings
https://www.wgu.edu/education/online_teaching_degree
https://lessonplans.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/07/well-paid-teachers-im-on-board/

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Happy 41st Birthday to Tunicker M. Jones

Tunicker M. Jones

(Photo Courtesy of Tunicker M. Jones)

After years of her being envious of my best friend, Dr. Santresa L. Glass, I reluctantly decided to write a brief piece to wish Tunicker M. Jones a Happy 41st Birthday! Each year, I compose a piece, an ode to Dr. Glass on her birthday. Jones has desired the same, with me denying her request each year. She has the privilege of being my sister, which, of course, is the greatest fact of her life, of her existence.

Ms. Tunicker M. Jones earned her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice at Troy University in Troy, Alabama and her master’s degree in Special Education at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. As a certified educator, Jones has over 10 years of professional experience teaching middle grades regular and special education students.

The passion Jones has for ensuring special needs students receive a quality education is commendable. She’s truly committed to helping every child, including our most vulnerable, to be prepared for the future and to experience success.

As I reflect on the vital and challenging work you do each day, I guess you deserve a little recognition on your birthday. Savor this piece, as it’s likely to never happen again.

Although the most important national and international holiday is on March 27th, which, of course, is my birthday, I’ll let you have today.

Happy Birthday!

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Asante Lloyd: A Shining Star for The Why You? Initiative

Asante Lloyd

(Photo Credit: Asante Lloyd)

One of the most important services offered by The Why You? Initiative, a national non-profit organization committed to advancing and empowering young students and young professionals, is mentoring. In Critique of Pure Reason, renowned German philosopher Immanuel Kant posits that “Examples are the go-cart of judgment.” From Kant’s perspective, therefore, if a person desires quality judgment, then he or she needs quality examples. The Why You? Initiative, affectionately known as “[YU?],” is increasingly becoming a national leader in supplying America with the effective examples this perilous and disconcerting epoch necessitates. Under the leadership of Dr. Renaldo C. Blocker and Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels, [YU?] Co-Founders, and their executive leadership team, Marie Beasley, Donald Dantzler, and John Hubbard, the next generation of national and international leaders in sundry fields and spaces are emerging. Asante Lloyd, a native of Augusta, Georgia, is one such future leader the organization is developing.

Mr. Lloyd, a junior Civil Engineering major at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, plans to pursue a master’s and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering after graduating with his undergraduate degree. Over the past three years, Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels has served as Asante’s main mentor. Daniels has known him since he was a toddler. Through an extended discourse with Daniels, Lloyd became inspired to earn a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. His original plan was to begin his career in the field after earning his undergraduate degree. [YU?] motivates young students and young professionals across the nation to reach their highest potential. Dr. Daniels is keenly aware of Asante’s intellectual acumen and does not want him to limit himself to earning just an undergraduate degree. Lloyd appreciates this academic advisement, and he has resolved to expand his career possibilities by embarking on the challenging, yet rewarding journey to a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering.

As a high school student-athlete, Mr. Lloyd excelled academically and athletically, receiving numerous awards for football and track and superior academic achievement. He was even named Scholar-Athlete of the Year during his final year in high school. Asante evinced the reality that black male student-athletes can experience greatness in the classroom and fields and courts of athletic competition. He graduated with honors from a competitive magnate high school in Augusta, Georgia, obtaining a nationally and internationally reputable international baccalaureate (IB) diploma. Although he loves Mathematics and Science, and has always performed really well in those subjects, Asante has made great grades in all subjects. As Lloyd enters his junior year, his academic success persists—he’s still an honor student.

While his academic and athletic prowess and success are noteworthy, they do not even compare to his character. Asante is the type of child any parent desires to have. His parents, Felicia Mack and Roderick Lloyd, have done an excellent job rearing him, and they are quite proud of the accomplished young man he has become. One never hears a credible negative word spoken about him.

[YU?] prides itself on helping young students and young professionals, especially those who emerge from underrepresented backgrounds, to secure meaningful internships, including nationally competitive ones. This is why the organization’s leadership was enthused about Mr. Lloyd being selected last summer as a Scholar-Intern by the United States Department of Energy (DOE).  Impressed by his work last summer, Asante’s supervisors at the DOE invited him to return this summer to work for the agency at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, and he recently completed this summer’s internship experience at the DOE.

As a DOE Scholar-Intern, Mr. Lloyd gained valuable research experience in the field, and he was able to make significant contributions to the DOE, contributions that will benefit all Americans. He was able to gain knowledge and critical insights from national and international experts in his field, and these two years of experience have buttressed his understanding of how to engage in sophisticated research, apply data-driven approaches to solving complex problems, and work collaboratively with novice and experienced engineers.

[YU?] salutes Asante Lloyd for his accomplishments and for operating in a spirit of excellence.

If you would like to learn more about the work The Why You? Initiative does and would like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please visit http://www.whyyou.org. You may also donate to the organization by texting “YU” to 41444.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

Co-Founder

The Why You? Initiative