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.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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2 comments

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  • There were no Open -Book, Take-Home exams in the Princeton engineering department from 1974-1978. Why not just sit the kids down in a room, let them take the exam and move on? Utter nonsense. A witch-hunt will be conducted, followed by a snipe hunt, and then a few suspensions. The affair will conclude with the expungment of all derogatory mentions on each kid’s record. I recommend Nivea to lubricate liberal hand wringing. It’s from Scandinavia, it’s colorless, odorless, and overpriced. Perfect for liberal academics.

  • Guy is right. Wasn’t the whole point that everyone should get an “A?” Isn’t that what liberal/progressivism is all about? Isn’t Harvard run by liberal/progressives? Whoops, I actually studied there…