I am not a shadows scholar

An Academic Ghostwriter, the ‘Shadow Scholar,’ Comes Clean

As a teacher, I feel I need to come out and say now that I am not a shadow scholar.  I do not write papers for students.  I have never written a paper for a student.

However, once I did completely re-write a paper for a fellow student when I was in college.  It was the summer, he was taking a marketing course online, he wrote a paper describing a plan to market and sell paper towels that “open easier” because there is an opening tear strip, everyone knew it’s easy to open paper towels by poking the top hole, and he had a lot to work on in terms of grammar and mechanics besides.  So I completely rewrote his paper.  The trade-off: He let me cleaned the lazer tag arena for me while I “edited” the paper.

Am I happy I did it?  No.  But I’m happy I learned from it.

And somehow this guy got away with it for ten years.  Am I jealous?  No.

He knew it was unethical.  So why did he do it?  He stopped believing in the system, and wanted to stick it to the man.  But what really gets me is this:

“Mr. Tomar sometimes strains to rationalize his choices by citing a larger cultural malaise, one in which he says institutions like Wall Street can crash the economy without consequence. It is also one in which students, who have been indulged by their parents and teachers to believe they can reach their dreams despite their shortcomings, will find themselves woefully unprepared for the challenges ahead.”

Tomar has a great point: Students get kicked out of school for cheating on a single test, yet business execs don’t suffer a single penalty for their economic crimes.  But you see, without setting that precedent for students, we give them no reason act honorably.  If we teachers don’t give students penalty for cheating, if we as teachers don’t condone it, and if we teachers don’t refuse to write papers for students, then we should expect them to cheat forever.

See, Tomar hated the system so much he became a part of it.

And he’s right about another thing.  Professors aren’t to blame for the cheating (unless they’re part of it).  It is a system problem.

But Mr. Tomar did a brave thing.  He came out and said he spent the last ten years being trash, doing what he did.  He set an example for people to come clean.  He also published a book out of it.  But they.  Guy’s gotta eat.

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