The fact that plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty occur everywhere does not invalidate the professor's point that the scope of the problem in China, like the size of its population or the speed of its economic expansion, is staggering. In my own experience as a graduate student instructor at the University of California at Berkeley and as a former student at both Peking University and Tsinghua, the incidence of plagiarism and fraud among Chinese students is disappointing to say the least. True, much of it can be attributed to an academic culture that allows students to quote without attribution or that encourages students to compose their own letters of recommendation when applying to foreign universities. Nevertheless, I generally accept the professor's point that such a culture not only undermines his efforts to educate his students, but diminishes the Chinese educational system and China as a whole. As for the professor's "condescending" tone - all I can say is that the truth sometimes hurts. It's difficult to examine the culture of dishonesty and permissiveness at Chinese universities like Beida without considering the larger social context. Pirated DVDs, western textbooks, and GRE prep materials are only the most obvious examples. Chinese students need to hear this message. China's poverty and status as a developing country are poor excuses for such brazen and pervasive dishonesty. Bravo to the professor for saying so.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
A Reader's Comment on Professor Stearns' Letter
We continue to receive comments to our story of Professor Stearns' letter. Thanks to all who have written. I would like to share one of them, by someone who had studied in Peking University, as below: