Handwringing in the Land of High Dudgeon
These are busy times in the land of High Dudgeon. Skin cream sales have skyrocketed as the handwringing among pundificators has increased faster than the value of a Facebook short.
There is a cheating scandal at Harvard.
More than 100 students took an open-book, take-home, final exam last spring and there was a remarkable similarity among some of the answers.
The Harvard College Administrative Board (a.k.a. the “Ad Board”) is investigating, and hand lotion has been made available on draft during their deliberations.
Athletes and their eligibility have been implicated and all parts of the university are involved (well, other than the Department of Buildings and Grounds).
Despite all the smarty-pants handwringing (do we have smarty-skirts yet?), few thoughtful questions have been asked.
Here’s one. What is the point of an open-book, take-home final exam?
If the goal is to determine whether a student can make a compelling argument with all facts readily at hand on the Internet, why not assign a paper?
If the goal is to determine whether students can memorize facts, sit them down in one those great big rooms that cause all college graduates to wake up screaming in the night ever thereafter and put them through their paces.
But here’s the clincher. What was the course about?
The course was called “Introduction to Congress.”
Harvard could easily retake the high ground by giving all of the cheaters A’s and telling them they had learned their lessons well.