Deja Vu?

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Remember this post?

Someone on Zillow used my research to write up this house sales pitch.

In April 2017, a gentleman from a real estate office in Pensacola contacted me about this property, telling me it was going on the market in about a year, thought the information I’d gathered on the property useful, and kindly offered to give me a tour of the property. Although I was interested in seeing the house where Emmett lived, I had no plans to travel to Pensacola, and so had to decline.

The gentleman mentioned he had found the information I’d written about 211 West Cervantes Street on my blog and thought it useful. The initial report was not correct (Minnie Kehoe did not live there), and I shared that with the realtor. (UPDATE 1/9: The gentleman has since corrected the information on the page.)

J. Walter Kehoe (like Emmett, a U.S. Congressman), lived at the house along with his wife Jennie and their children). Walter had a daughter, Minnie Evelyn Kehoe, but she was about six or seven at the time — the female lawyer mentioned in the real estate listing is Minnie Eloise Kehoe, who was in her late 30s-early 40s. Big difference. But it is easy to get the names mixed up. Minnie Eloise often went by “Minnie E.”

I sent a comment via their contact page. It will be interesting to see if their office responds.

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UPDATE: 

Wow. That was fast.

Only five minutes after I posted this and sent the contact info to the realtor’s office, someone sent me a polite reply. The gist of the message was that the person who was responding was not responsible for the listing, but asked if I wanted information re the original listing’s contact agent. The reply was really nice. Professional. I appreciated the quick response.

Oh — and I mentioned the Minnie Kehoe error.  I mentioned that Walter — another U.S. Congressman — was the resident, not Minnie, and that Minnie actually lived down the street from Walter in another house also on West Cervantes, owned by the Kehoe family.

Frankly, I only wanted to see a proper credit for the information, and that the information is correct. That’s all.

UPDATE #2:

Wow. Photos of the inside of Emmett’s former home are at this link, courtesy of the Zillow page. The inside doesn’t have much of the original house to it — it looks like the staircases are the same — but you can see the lovely bones of the place.

I can imagine Emmett looking out of the windows onto West Cervantes Street from the second story porch.

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Two Years!

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Can you believe it? It has been two years in the blogosphere!

The second anniversary snuck up on me. It has been Spring Break here in Maryland; the kids have been home for 10 days, good for them, good for family activities. Bad for writing on the manuscript, but everything has its season.

I spent most of today filing plagiarism sanctions on student papers. It was the first time in about six months since this happened in one of my classes. I really don’t enjoy these things at all. Each sanction takes about an hour and a half to put together, then, you have to deal with the student responses.

One student told me today that he

‘really didn’t want to flank my class. He’d never flanked anything before in his life.’

Gah.

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Maybe Emmett would have sent me this cake if we knew each other in real life. Source: Pinterest

Maybe Emmett would have sent me this cake if we knew each other in real life. Source: Pinterest

I’ll be back in my regular writing routine tomorrow. I’ve missed Emmett, and the research, and writing.

It has been a great two years with the blog, so far! I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring!

 

Emmett’s Alma Mater & Grammar Woes

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You’ve seen me rant in earlier posts about the decline in general student performance, both in my own classes and in higher ed in general. Here’s an interesting story about collegiate football fans.

Given the fact that I see — and catch — more instances of plagiarism and poor grammar in student papers today than I did 10 years ago, today’s story from The Orlando Sentinel doesn’t come as a huge surprise:

FSU_fans_orlando

Emmett was a student at FSU — before it was FSU, that is. When Emmett was enrolled there, it was called West Florida Seminary, or, the Seminary West of the Suwannee. It also had a reputation for being notoriously rigid in terms of educational quality. If you wanted to be there, then by damn, you had to show up and suit up.

You couldn’t just take up space in a classroom, and then complain to the dean that your professor didn’t give you any ‘credit’ for just taking up academic real estate. Like you can nowadays.

Basic requirements to pass your Freshman year: Proficiency in BOTH Greek and Latin. Source: FSU Archive

Basic requirements to pass your Freshman year: Proficiency in BOTH Greek and Latin. That’s not the case in 21st century higher ed. Source: FSU Archive

The entrance exams are what separated the folks who knew how to proofread and cite sources properly, and those who did not — among other things. Emmett, unfortunately, was one of the victims of the rigorous entrance exams — he didn’t make it to finish his sophomore year. It was just as well, because WFS didn’t have a law school at the time, and Emmett later decided he wanted to be a lawyer.

Were fans back in Emmett’s day who attended college more likely to proofread and avoid plagiarism? I’m unsure.

I think with all the tech at our fingertips, it certainly is easier to avoid doing the ‘work’ of reading a document for accuracy. Spell check programs will not catch a wrong word if that wrong word is spelled correctly, and most of my students will run their papers through the program, but not actually read the paper for clarity.

And it certainly is easier to attempt plagiarism, anyway — that is, unless you are in my class at the University of Maryland.

Doc Cop, one of the free plagiarism checking programs available (and one that my students use to check their work). Source: www.doccop.com

Doc Cop, one of the free plagiarism checking programs available (and one that my students use to check their work). Source: http://www.doccop.com

I believe that the teachers at WFS had the same problems I do, but on a lesser scale. The enrollments were smaller, compared to the typical classroom size today. Also, I think the students had more respect for education and the effort it took to earn a degree. Less than 1 percent of the population in Emmett’s day could even afford college. Higher ed was a privilege and treated as such, compared to today.

I don’t know. I wish people valued their educational opportunities more, and treasured the chances just to interact with others, in the hopes of expanding their world views. This may be just a matter of maturity, you know.

The Dean Will See You Now

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Well, that didn’t take long.

Whatever happened to dunce caps in class anyway? Wish I could give a few students a virtual dunce cap, but I can tell you that can't happen. Image source: The Media Speaks.

Whatever happened to dunce caps in class anyway? Wish I could give a few students a virtual dunce cap, but I can tell you that can’t happen. Image source: The Media Speaks.

My class is only 10 days old, and already, I have a plagiarism sanction, and not for a paper, either.

It is for someone’s post in a discussion forum, folks. The Adult Student couldn’t be troubled to THINK for more than five minutes about a discussion question, and give his OWN thoughts back in the two brief paragraphs I required.

The Adult Student couldn’t give a few original thoughts to the question, and had to go to some random website (actually, one called directutor.com) for ‘a thought’?

Really, Adult Student? REALLY?

Sheesh.

In case anyone else has the same smartass idea, I’ve scotched it for the remaining six weeks of class.

Because the student plagiarized in public class forum, I had to manage it in the same public class forum. I got to tell the student about it, tactfully and professionally, mind you, IN THE FORUM. Great teachable moment for everyone in one fell swoop, really.

So, now, everyone can see my displeasure (and the warning), and oh yeah, faculty are now required to turn plagiarism cases over to the Dean for processing. I don’t have to manage them anymore. That’s a good thing. I can focus on teaching instead of being a classroom cop.

The Dean will see you now.


 

Plagiarism is nothing new under the sun. In Emmett’s day, I’m sure there were cases here and there. Out of curiosity, I looked through Emmett’s college catalog at Stetson University for their statement on academic dishonesty.

Guess what? There isn’t one.

Here’s what they did have, though:

Emmett had to write a thesis prior to graduation from law school. This only gives minor specifications; nothing about it having to be 'original work.' Perhaps that was more understood back in the day. Source: www.stetson.edu

Emmett had to write a thesis prior to graduation from law school. This only gives minor specifications; nothing about it having to be ‘original work.’ Perhaps that was more understood back in the day. Source: http://www.stetson.edu

See paragraph four, referencing an honor code. That was enough to safeguard against academic dishonesty for the most part? Souce: www.stetson.edu

See paragraph four, referencing an honor code. That was enough to safeguard against academic dishonesty for the most part? Souce: http://www.stetson.edu

See item number 12. Plagiarism may have been considered a misdemeanor; still, such a misdemeanor could have serious ramifications: Expulsion, for instance. Source: www.stetson.edu

See item number 12. Plagiarism may have been considered a misdemeanor; still, such a misdemeanor could have serious ramifications: Expulsion, for instance. Source: http://www.stetson.edu

At the University of Maryland, plagiarism is viewed seriously. Cases are treated on an individual basis; most of the time, the problem is not significant (i.e., it is not a case of taking the majority of a document verbatim and claiming authorship). So, for most cases, the student receives a warning and a written sanction in their file.

A second instance, though, can result in automatic failure of the class. Or, expulsion from the university, depending on how significant it is. The thing is: All students entering the University of Maryland are given extensive information about plagiarism, and most taking classes in the writing program are required to take a short workshop (which generates a certificate of completion). The point is (to adult learners): They have been told what plagiarism is, and that it is unacceptable, and it will handled a certain way. To claim ignorance isn’t going to work.

In Emmett’s time, I’m sure there were cases of academic dishonesty, but the lack of the formal statement of it in the 1905 Stetson University catalog makes me wonder: Have we really come down in terms of respect for using another researcher’s information in academic work?

Emmett Wilson, Analog Man

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Folks, as some you already know, I teach for the University of Maryland in between research and writing Emmett’s book.

The Fall academic session started on Monday, so we are on Day Four of an eight-week mini-semester. Already, I’ve had to do the following:

  • On the second day of class, file a plagiarism sanction against a student who thought he could answer a simple discussion question by taking text from other websites, without paraphrasing, proper citation usage, or even including the original text source.
  • On the fourth day of class, break up an online fight (an intense verbal altercation) that arose from a very innocent question asked by one student to another.
  • Also, on the fourth day (that’s today, by the way), I had a student in the online fight class ask me why would anyone bother to spend months researching an ‘analog’ subject, as opposed to the wealth of time-saving, already-etherized research sources available, such as what you can find on Wikipedia?
Emmett is more analog than Joe, I think. (With apologies to Joe Walsh. Source: http://www.atlinernotes.com/2013/03/joe-walsh-analog-man-review.html)

Emmett is more analog than Joe, I think. (With apologies to Joe Walsh.) Source: http://www.atlinernotes.com/2013/03/joe-walsh-analog-man-review.html

Emmett Wilson, Analog Man?

The plagiarism incident resolved quickly. Nothing like newfangled auto-sanction forms that go out simultaneously (to the Dean and to the student) to get a fast resolution. The plagiarizing student gave me a litany of reasons why he did it, but in the end, admitted he was being lazy.

The online fight incident was a bit less troublesome than it could have been; to the credit of the student who was attacked, that person was unruffled, saying things like this happen in the online world.

When I talked to the aggressor, that student’s response to me was a sort-of apology; he/she admitted responsibility, but added that the other student ‘started it’ by using the ‘wrong words’ in asking the question. Whatever. Both students apologized to each other sincerely in the forum, and we’ve moved on.

It is important to be careful with our words, and how we use them to present ourselves to the world (and to each other). I can neither take advantage of the sources I find, nor the people who are kind enough to help me. None of us truly work alone, you know. Emmett’s story is not coming together in a wacky vacuum, although it does feel that way sometimes after hours of toiling alone in front of a microfilm reader.

Before I go, here’s what I said to the student who suggested a less-analog subject than Emmett:

The research journey one undertakes for obscure, rare information has been much more valuable than the actual data at times.

I’ve met wonderful people, met new family members I had never known before, learned a lot of great information about the Progressive Era and turn of the century issues, for instance — and all of it I find applicable to my everyday life. I haven’t even begun drafting Emmett’s story yet — I can only imagine what I’m going to learn next!

I don’t know if he understood what I meant. Maybe he will, one day, when he finds his own “analog” subject.