Sunday, August 31, 2008

Inferior Essay on Adam Smith's Theory of Exchange Value

I am always suspicious of essay writing Blogs that students may use (for a fee) to build their essay around (some hope!), but more likely simply lift and send in as their own work.

The worse comment I can make on this practice is that their tutors, presumably read the ‘essay’ and grade it, apparently without noticing that it is not their student’s work but an essay writing agency’s. I read one (‘Adam Smith and Theory of Value’) this early morning from a supplier of essays, this one presumably for a university assignment, called Thinking Made Easy (‘ideas, thoughts explanations’), HERE:

You can see why I was drawn to it and why I printed it to read over breakfast at 7 am.

Verdict? Oh, dear!

I was surprised by its truly juvenile English style, wrapped in an apparatus to give it an air of polished maturity. Unfortunately the cracks show in every paragraph.

All references are secondary and not from Wealth Of Nations. Even the references are ‘naked’ – a surname name, a year, occasional page number, no titles, no publishing data (even one reference says simply ‘Princeton University n.d.’) – which restricts reference and a quick judgement as to their quality. Interestingly, most references cite, suspiciously, page numbers between 1-6, with one at p 13.

The final test of the unsatisfactory nature of the author’s views on ‘Adam Smith and Theory of Value’ (note: no definite or indefinite article), is the number of incorrect statements attributed to Smith and the clear evidence that the author does not understand either what Adam Smith was writing or what others have written since.

As an educator, I am all for being encouraging in my comments to new students and examples of their work. I would even be gentle in what I recognise as a bought-in or copied piece of somebody else’s work (on the first occasion only), following a kind but firm exchange of views on presenting something as your own work that belongs to somebody else.

If they proved it was their own work, they would be requested to go away and show from Wealth Of Nations the sources for all their statements, and we would discuss their re-worked essay later that week.

For the authors who write for these sites I have not a great deal of respect – who knows what desperate circumstances they are in that pushes them to participate in such activities?

I blame those educationalists who allow ‘course work’ to count towards a final grading (as well as in-class participation and group work), even more so when the work is ‘out of sight and supervision’ in distance learning programmes.

The victim on this occasion is Adam Smith and his legacy; the students who ‘buy’ this inferior work also lose and not just what they pay for it in cash - they lose their dignity and integrity too.


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