Saturday, January 10, 2015


T stayed up all night on Thursday night because she had tons of homework and an essay to do. None of us slept well because when T asked us if she could go to sleep at a decent hour and stay home to finish the assignments the next day, F and I had said that she couldn't. We said that she needed to meet her deadline even if it meant staying up all night. And then we felt guilty. Guilty and yet fairly certain that it was the right thing. The next day we ended up allowing her to stay home because while she had held up her end of the deal, she was still not satisfied with the writing she had produced and she was exhausted. Mostly we let her stay home because while I am favorably impressed with her two most important professors in terms of their competency in their given subjects, there was still the chance that she would have been "humiliated," as she put it, by having to read the essay aloud knowing that it isn't what she really wanted to say and/or receive a grade that doesn't reflect her knowledge of the subject.

Theoretically, a series of bad grades could lead any of the kids in her class to either have to study all summer under the threat of not being allowed back in school next year or failing out at the end of this year. I believe they lost eight classmates this way from the first year to the second. The professors expect a certain about of strategic game playing from what days the students choose to call in sick to when they opt to use their justifications to get out of being interrogated. The chance of T's not passing is very slim, but she is kind of just at the treading at the water mark in terms of sufficiency for certain subjects as are many of her classmates. Nevertheless, T would like to attend a college preparatory course this summer at an English or American University and her grades do have an impact on whether she can get financial aid or scholarships. The gambling and numbers aspect makes the Liceo Classico di Lucca more similar than not to Atlantic City.

Here's where I get angry. It turned out, predictably, that the professor discovered that the majority of the class not only plagarized the essay, but that they had plagarized the same essay and that the majority of the class turned in identical work apart from T. The prof's response was that while copying is okay, they should only plagarize in pieces so that there is some variety to what she has to grade. REALLY?? I mean if T picked up the habits of her classmates and then went on to an American university, she would be expelled without the shadow of a doubt. And rightfully so.

 That's a different kind of cheating. But it is also mega super popular in Italy.
The level of corruption in Italy is so entrenched that nobody blinked an eye at the professor's statement. It is bad enough that one of the girls in her class puts the homework answers online for the rest of the class to copy. Beyond that, they routinely copy off each other's papers in the classroom and ask each other for help during tests. I feel like T should get two to four points higher for every assignment she does, not because Italian is her second language, but because she is one of the few who actually works for it and is trying to learn the material instead of just working the system. Given all that, how am I supposed to face these professors at the next parent teacher conferences? T said she would hate for me to bring it up as it would help her in no way at all, but it is really hard to just sit idly by and watch this happen.

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